Monday, April 30, 2007

If You Don't Want tha Answer, You Shouldn't Have Asked the Question

From The Daily Mail (UK):
Leading scientists are today expected to back a major expansion of nuclear power as a way of saving the world from global warming.

Other measures in a United Nations report include the use of GM (GM = Genetically Modified – ed.) crops to produce biofuels and the "capture and storage" underground of harmful CO2 gases.

More than 2,000 scientists have contributed to the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) report and 400 of them met today in Bangkok to finalise it before publication on Friday. The report is the biggest to study the practical actions that could reduce emissions and its findings will play a key role in Kyoto negotiations which will take place in December.

[…] The report has also angered environmentalists. Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth said: "Nuclear reactors are dangerous and land clearance and chemical pesticides and fertilisers used to grow fuel crops can cause huge environmental damage."

This is hilarious. The people who walk around with signs protesting global warming are, in general, the very same people who walk around with signs protesting nuclear power, corporate farming, and the use of genetically engineered plants in agriculture (frequently referred to by them as “frankenfood”).

Not being a climatologist, I do not know whether human-influenced global warming really is or is not a problem. My scientific instincts tell me it probably is, but the hysterical leftie nut cases of the world who are trying to use it as an excuse for global government are clueless. So are the Luddites, who are far more committed to locking people into a detechnologized “paradise” where life will be nasty, brutish, and short, than they are to realistic ameliorations.

Whatever the truth is about “global warming,” people want to live. “The simple life” may have some appeal to rich American libs as they look out the picture windows of their vacation homes; it is never going to fly with the people of Asia, Africa, and South America who want a better lifestyle that includes microwave ovens, automobiles, and air conditioning. China, after all, not the USA, will very soon be the number one contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

Any real solutions have to address the question of how to produce more power more efficiently – and that’s something we need to figure out whether climate change is our fault or not. There are 9 billion souls to feed, clothe, and house in this world, and neither Walden Pond nor the Marxist utopia are going to take care of that requirement. I suspect, however, that the same economic systems that gave us electric lights, telephones, and automobiles will be able to pull it off. Given the economic incentives resulting from three-bucks-a-gallon gasoline, who knows? Al-Qaeda just might (inadvertently) save the world! In the meantime, bring on both the reactors and some engineered tomatoes that don't taste like cardboard!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Trilling in the Darkness

As you know from a previous post, my company is unwinding the project I’m on. One effect of that has been that people are being reassigned to various other places, and my staff has been decreasing far faster than our workload. This is the primary reason I’ve been so remiss in posting, but that’s not my point at the moment.

Friday night, I kept getting paged in the wee hours of the morning. After a fairly lengthy session at 3:00 AM, I crawled back into bed to try to get some sleep. As I lay there in the pitch black, I heard a mockingbird outside my window singing his guts out in the darkness. I was trying (vainly) to appreciate the natural beauty of the world while I wondered just what the heck this idiot bird thought it was doing.

There wasn’t anything wrong with the bird’s singing – it was quite lovely trilling away out there, not far from my bedroom window. The problem is that it was just out of place. Birds (mockingbirds, at least) are supposed to sing in the daytime; I’d have been a lot more appreciative of its talents at 3 PM than at 3 AM.

On the other hand, I thought (strange thoughts being common at three in the morning), isn’t that bird a lot like me? God made humans to be beautiful - our reason, our emotions, our physical and sexual natures were built to make us good, beautiful, and pleasing in the sight of God. The problem isn’t that I ceased to have those qualities; the problem is that I exercise them them out of their proper place. I wonder if that’s how we appear to God – lovely creatures who have ceased to function in our proper context, like mockingbirds singing in the darkness.

I confess that my first impulse was to find the psycho bird and and put it out of my misery; I am glad that He Who made the bird and my own out-of-order self takes a different approach to the both of us.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Protecting Which Children?

Excerpted fromrom an essay, Protecting Our Children, by TEC Presiding Heresiarch Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori at Episcopal Life Online:

I had a remarkable encounter recently with a young woman who still bears the scars from abuse she experienced as a child. She has a deep and abiding faith in God, but not much use for religion. She asked me a hard question: "How can your church help to prevent the same thing from happening to other children?"

It's a haunting question, but it is one that many, many Episcopalians and their congregations are engaged in addressing. How do we answer her question, and the same question that is asked on behalf of those who have not yet found their voices?

Our baptismal vocation includes helping those voiceless ones find the ability to speak, and it includes speaking on behalf of those who have no helper. As a church, we have learned a great deal in recent years about protecting children in our congregations from sexual abuse. We have perhaps learned less about the often greater need to respond to all kinds of abuse in our communities…

Wow! Terrific! Does that mean ++Katherine and TEC are therefore going to speak out boldly on behalf of all those voiceless ones who are slaughtered every day, right here in the USA, before they’ve even had a chance to be born?

I’m listening…


Still listening…



Wednesday, April 04, 2007

April 4: St. Isidore of Seville, Patron of the Internet

Isidore was born at Cartagena in Spain in the year 560. His two brothers, Leander and Fulgentius, both bishops, and his sister Florentina, are saints. As a boy Isidore was discouraged because he failed in his studies, and he ran away from school. Later he decided to go back and try again. With the help of God, he became one of the most learned men of his time.

Isidore helped in converting the leader of the Arian party, and delivered Spain from this heresy. Following a call from God, he became a hermit even though his friends pleaded with him. After his brother's death he became the Archbishop of Seville. As a teacher, ruler, founder, and reformer, he labored not only in his own diocese, but throughout Spain, and even in foreign countries. He presided at the Fourth Council of Toledo.
Isidore wrote many books. He governed his diocese about thirty-seven years.

In 633, three years before his death, he presided over the Fourth National Council of Toledo, which enacted a decree commanding all bishops in Spain to establish seminaries in their Cathedral Cities, along the lines of the school already existing at Seville.

He died in Seville on April 4, 636, and within sixteen years of his death was declared a Doctor of the Church.

St. Isidore is the patron saint of computer programmers and of the Internet. He was so named because he produced one of the world's first databases in the form of a twenty-volume encyclopedia called the Etymologies. He was the first Christian writer to attempt to compile all the knowledge in the world at the time. His encyclopedia preserved many fragments of classical learning which otherwise would have been lost to the world.

The following prayers are courtesy of Fr. John Zuhlsdorf:
A prayer before logging onto the internet:
Almighty and eternal God,
who created us in Thine image
and bade us to seek after all that is good, true and beautiful,
especially in the divine person of Thine Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
grant, we beseech Thee,
that, through the intercession of Saint Isidore, Bishop and Doctor,
during our journeys through the internet
we will direct our hands and eyes only to that which is pleasing to Thee
and treat with charity and patience all those souls whom we encounter.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

In Latin:
Orátio ante colligatiónem in interrete:

Omnípotens aetérne Deus,
qui secúndum imáginem Tuam nos plasmásti
et ómnia bona, vera, et pulchra,
praesértim in divína persóna Unigéniti Fílii Tui
Dómini nostri Iesu Christi, quáerere iussísti,
praesta, quaésumus,
ut, per intercessiónem Sancti Isidóri, Epíscopi et Doctóris,
in peregrinatiónibus per interrete,
et manus oculósque ad quae Tibi sunt plácita intendámus
et omnes quos convenímus cum caritáte ac patiéntia accipiámus.
Per Christum Dóminum nostrum. Amen.

Cracks in the Foundation

A post from The Curt Jester, entitled April Fool’s for Anglicans, followed by my comment:
Concerned churchgoers have been flooding the Christ Church Cathedral with "upset and angry" phone calls after an April Fool's Day joke claimed the landmark building was going to be demolished.

The article, which said bulldozers would move in this week after huge cracks in the foundations were found, was published in Sunday's edition of the Star's Community News.

In fact the Cathedral is undergoing a $1.2 million upgrade and its future is secure.

The Dean of the Cathedral, the Very Rev Peter Beck, said the phones had been "running hot" since the article went to print.

"Clearly some people were really upset and angry and we did our best to reassure them," he said. "From our point of view, we knew nothing about it so we were innocent victims of this scam."

I can't blame them for falling for this plank. If your (sic) an Anglican you have to have a pretty low threshold about what is not believable anymore.

My comment:
It will take a lot more than a contractor to fix the crack in OUR foundation, especially since the Anglican "Church's One Foundation" has been replaced with sand, poured by a bunch of bishops who seem to smoke crack.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Let Us Pray: To Whom It May Concern...

No, this is not a late April Fool’s gag. This is an actual “prayer” from the Non-Theistic Liturgy Resources Working Group at St. Stephen’s College at the University of Alberta. St. Stephen’s as associated with the United Church of Canada, an organization which makes The Episcopal Church look (almost) orthodox.

My Creator (soul's Source, spirit's Destination, Ground of Our Being, etc.)
in whom/which is heaven, or within which we can find heaven (as co-creators)
we revere/respect you
We will work to see your divine intent become a reality where we live.
We will work to see that everyone has the food they need to live and have health and energy to contribute to the welfare of Earth and its life systems.
We sense that we are forgiven for our admitted shortcomings to the extent that we art able to forgive others their failures.
We recognize the presence of evil in our world and strive to avoid being a part of it as well as pointing it out whenever we are aware of it.
We work for these changes in our lives and in the lives of others in the spirit of Jesus who cared for all those who were unjustly treated or oppressed.
May we make these things so.

Note that at no time does this indicate a petition to an external force to intervene and do the work which only we can do.

Well, I’m glad they threw in that last sentence, lest I get the idea that there might be an actual god - let alone The God – associated with all this. I am curious, however. The prayer claims to recognize the presence of evil in the world. That’s nice, but how? Or better, perhaps, sez who?

People who abandon the traditional notion of God, yet persist in advocating good behavior, are really living on the inherited capital of the theistic worldview they are getting rid of. If there is no God, if there is nothing eternal, then there is no reason for me to be “good” other than expedience. In the absence of anything permanent, the logical course of action is to seek to maximize my enjoyment. This may place some limits on my actions to avoid wrecking my health, but the only restrictions on how I treat you depend on our relative power. If I can get away with improving my lot by impoverishing yours, why not?

This goes way beyond Pascal’s wager or the simple notion that “if there is no God, then all things are permitted.” It means that a non-theistic universe logically calls for an entirely different response than a theistic universe. What is right in one is merely dumb in the second. A real God implies a real standard; no God implies no universally valid standard. If there is no universal standard of right and wrong, then I really am the ultimate arbiter of good and evil, and the only sensible definition of evil becomes “what hurts me.” “What hurts you” drops clean off the plate.

There are lots of decent, moral atheists; I only maintain that there is no intrinsic reason for an atheist to be decent and moral.

By the way, there are some other good prayers on this site:

One: In the beginning was diversity:
All: Puddle and pond, mountain and meadow, dandelion and daisy, raven and robin, cougar and cow, you and me.
One: And it was good!
All: From the beginning, diversity confused us.
One: We created categories: race, rank and religion; colour, class and creed; language, looks and learning.
All: And divisions came to be!
One: We gather to honour diversity:
All: To love creation, to celebrate difference, to embrace all within God's unending circle of love.

Cougar and cow… One thing they seem to have forgotten about the glorious diversity of nature is that diversity will eat you.

One: In the beginning was diversity:
All: Swamp and desert, virus and spirochete, fluke and louse, Guinea worm and tsetse fly, rat and cockroach, lion and crocodile, you and me – oops, one of them got you. Bummer!
One: And you tasted good!

Another Good Man Leaves the Episcopal Church

From The Living Church:
Concerned that his presentment trial would be a financial and public relations disaster for The Episcopal Church, retired Bishop William J. Cox informed Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on March 29 that he had left The Episcopal Church and had been received into the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone.

“I don’t want a fight amongst Christians,” Bishop Cox told The Living Church. “I don’t hold a grudge against [Oklahoma] Bishop [Robert] Moody or [Kansas] Bishop [Dean] Wolfe for bringing charges against me.

For those unfamiliar with the matter at hand, Bishop Cox was to be tried in Ecclesiastical Court for the perceived sin of having ordained a couple of priests and a deacon in Kansas in 2005, as a favor to the Primate of Uganda. The church at which said ordinations took place is now affiliated with the Anglican Province of Uganda. The Episcopal Church apparently considers this good cause to remove Bishop Cox from the ordained ministry.

I have had the privilege to meet Bishop Cox during a retreat several years ago. He is a decent man and a class act – definitely one of the “good guys,” whatever one’s views on the current goings on in TEC.

If I have ever questioned my decision to leave the Episcopal Church, this certainly puts an end to it. The Episcopal Church never found reason to do more than slap the wrist of Bishop James Pike in 1966 for dismissing such “primitive” notions as the Trinity and the virginity of the Blessed Mother. It has never shown any interest in dealing with the comments of Bishop John Shelby Spong, whose 1998 “Twelve Theses” include:
  • Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.
  • Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.
  • The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ's divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.
  • The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.
  • The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.

In 2003, the Episcopal Church approved as Bishop of New Hampshire a man who had divorced his wife and family in order to pursue a relationship with his gay lover. Yet that same Episcopal Church was prepared to defrock Bishop Cox for the Unforgivable Sin of crossing into the supposed territory of another diocese. Pah!

My prayers are with Bishop Cox and his family; he is a far more gracious man than I am. The best I can do for TEC at the moment is to not wish a plague of anthrax on them.