Sunday, January 30, 2005
KERRY WAFFLES AGAIN
In the face of amazing courage on the part of 8 million Iraqis, what did the Junior Senator from Massachusettes have to say?
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who lost the November presidential election against Republican President George W. Bush, described the Iraqi elections as "significant" and "important" but said they should not be "overhyped."
"It is significant that there is a vote in Iraq," Kerry said in an interview with NBC television's Meet the Press. "But ... no one in the United States should try to overhype this election.
"This election is a sort of demarcation point, and what really counts now is the effort to have a legitimate political reconciliation," Kerry said. "And it's going to take a massive diplomatic effort and a much more significant outreach to the international community than this administration has been willing to engage in.
"Absent that, we will not be successful in Iraq," he said.
Kerry also said he did not support fellow Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy's call last week for the immediate pullout of at least 12,000 US troops from Iraq following the elections.
"I wouldn't do a specific timetable, but I certainly agree with (Kennedy) in principle, that the goal must be to withdraw American troops," Kerry said.
In his grand tradition know as "Blame America First," Kerry can't help himself: the election should not be "overhyped"; we need a "political reconcilation" (so the Sunnis who oppressed their countrymen don't feel too bad, I guess); we need a "massive diplomatic effort" (what? the French and the UN again? who the heck do we or anyone else need to engage in diplomacy with? Is the objection to apologize to thugs and tyrants about the advance of freedom?).
What is with this "international community" broken record on the part of Kerry? What is this instinct about the "Global Test"?
PM Blair said it best: "The exit strategy for Iraq is a democratic Iraq." Is Blair the only liberal who understands this?
Memo to Kerry: this, in large measure is why you lost.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
The first Vox Blogoli of 2005 deals with a Jonathan Rauch piece from the new Atlantic (subscription required.) Jonathan is a Yalie, a National Journal columnist, and the author of Gay Marriage. A more complete bio is here.
Rauch writes in his piece the following:
“On balance it is probably healthier if religious conservatives are inside the political system than if they operate as insurgents and provocateurs on the outside. Better they should write anti-abortion planks into the Republican platform than bomb abortion clinics. The same is true of the left. The clashes over civil rights and Vietnam turned into street warfare partly because activists were locked out of their own party establishments and had to fight, literally, to be heard. When Michael Moore receives a hero’s welcome at the Democratic National Convention, we moderates grumble; but if the parties engage fierce activists while marginalizing tame centrists, that is probably better for the social peace than the other way around.”
Hugh's invited a Blogswarm on Mr. Rauch's comments. As a pastor, long-time pro-lifer, conservative and an evangelical theologian, some thoughts:
Rauch (and the editors at The Atlantic) have made the common error of the false center, viz, we all tend to think we are stand at the dead center. Even if you're Dennis Kucinich, you think you are at the thoughtful center of political discourse, and that opinion is evenly divided to your right and left.
Rauch IDs himself as a "moderate." Take that with a whole bag, not a grain, of salt. It's not that he doesn't believe it; he does. That's why he cites Michael Shut-Out-Of-the-Oscars Moore is a fair representative of the nutty left, and religious conservatives/prolifers as representative of the nutty left. Voila, we have restored balance to the Force!
But I submit: which is closer to the center: the pro-life conservatives or the Moore-Ons? Now I realize I might suffer from error of the false center, but I don't think so. I think some recent elections, polls, etc., indicate that the I'm closer to dead center that Moore et al.
Notice I said closer. I'm no fool; I'm not at dead-center; I'm center-right. If the political spectrum was a chalk line ten feet long, I'm not at the five-foot mark. I'm at about the three-feet, six inch mark. I know I'm not at the center point.
Rauch thinks he's at the five foot mark. Well, maybe five foot six. He isn't. His position on same-sex marriage plants him firmly at the seven-foot mark, at least. But he and the Upper West Side compadres at Atlantic don't see it. They practically can't.
Oh, by the way, this pajamahadeen has a BA and MA in political science and two advanced degrees in theology.
(Dr.) Glenn Layne
Monday, January 24, 2005
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why Jesus Had to Die…
…Because of His Enemies
First in the Series: Why Jesus Had to Die
February 20, 2005
About this time last year, you would have thought, based on what you read or heard from certain elements of the press, that Hitler himself had made a propaganda movie that was a horrible anti-Jewish slander. That movie was “The Passion of the Christ” and the latter day Hitler was the devout Catholic, Mel Gibson.
“The Passion” was a controversial movie on several fronts. It’s true that the Jewish leaders of the time don’t come off looking too good. They don’t in the New Testament either. As a student of Scripture, I think the “bad Jew/good Roman” way of telling the story that you find in “The Passion” does overplay things a bit. I was surprised when in the film when the Romans are depicted as being caught off guard by the arrest of Jesus. I think that the long delay between the time Judas left the Last Supper and the time Jesus was arrested in the garden was because the Temple authorities also obtained the cooperation of Pilate in those tense hours, and I’m far from alone in that conclusion.
But that’s a detail. Over the next four weeks, as we prepare for Easter, we’re going to examine the question that “The Passion” forced to the front covers of Time and Newsweek: “Why did Jesus have to die?” I want to suggest to you that Jesus died for four reasons:
1. Because of His enemies
2. Because of human decision
3. Because it was His decision
4. And because it was the will of His Father
Now in a study like this, we have to bring out a full array of approaches. We need to think like an historian, a student of the Bible and a student of God and His ways. Do you know what that last one is called? It’s called being a theologian: someone who studies God and His ways. Sure there are paid, professional theologians, but whenever we study God and what He does, we’re theologians too. And the general movement of the study will be to start with history and then Biblical doctrine, but we wind up with the eternal plans of the eternal God. It’s quite a journey.
By the way, I want to recommend the book, The Weekend That Changed the World by Peter Walker as the best thing you can read on the events that occurred on that spring weekend 1,925 years ago. Peter Walker is a British Bible scholar who also leads groups to Israel several time a year, and a lot of his book deals with the question of the correct location of Jesus’ resurrection tomb. (As a matter of fact, I bought my copy at the bookshop at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem.).
Let’s think about those four reasons, one at a time. Obviously, Jesus didn’t die because everybody adored Him. He had enemies. As a matter of fact, He still has enemies. Let’s think about the enemies who conspired to kill Jesus.
According to John’s gospel, the simmering dislike of Jesus went to a full-blown hatred of Him after a very special incident: when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.
Now—this can’t be a surprise—Jesus’ act of raising Lazarus from the dead encouraged faith on the part of some. We read in John 11:45:
Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in Him.
According to John 11:42 that was His intent in raising Him from the dead: “that they may believe that You [the Father] sent Me.”
That’s wonderful, but it’s not the whole story. Ironically, this gift of life for Lazarus was the kiss of death for Jesus, at least in the plans of the powerful in Jerusalem.
There is a whole lot more here! And it’s not a passive rejection, but an active, angry rejection of Jesus that hardened into a determination:
JESUS MUST DIE
That’s the bottom line here…when they were all done, that was the finding: “Jesus must die.”
Why must He die? And who killed Jesus?
What John tells us here is that human pettiness on one level was the reason---
But that God Himself—His plan—was the ultimate reason. That’s what we’ll get into in the coming weeks.
After the raising of Lazarus, some people decided to “rat” on Jesus (v. 46):
But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.
Having seen, you would think they would believe. But so stubborn is the human heart that we will sometimes reject the most obvious evidence.
After all, remember that the time was not far off when Jesus Himself would rise from the dead, and while many would believe—most would not.
Jesus had something to say about this in Luke 16:31: “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
So some came to the Temple authorities with a report. The report should have read, Jesus must be the Messiah, because He can raise people from the dead.
Instead it read: This guy is more dangerous than our worst nightmare. He can raise people from the dead!
So the Sanhedrin calls a special session. What do we know about the Sanhedrin?
· It was the Supreme Council of Israel
· It had powers over religion and public order
· It answered to Rome, in the person of the Roman governor, which was then Pontius Pilate
· About evenly divided between Sadducees (who controlled the temple, had the money and the real power) and the Pharisees
The Sanhedrin was driven by two passions:
· The temple (both for religious and economic reasons)
· Placating Rome by keeping order
John describes a meeting and a debate on the “Jesus problem.” His sources were almost certainly two powerful men who were on the Sanhedrin at the time: Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. Nicodemus was the man who came to Jesus by night (in John 3), and Joseph came forward as a follower of Jesus by providing his own tomb for His burial.
So they meet (47a):
Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
The wording indicates that a formal meeting of the body was called. There was really only one item on the agenda: what to do about Jesus.
Now you have to know: this “Jesus problem” had been brewing almost from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.
There were four main areas where Jesus and the religious leaders clashed:
1. The leaders said the way to please God was through the law and the temple. Jesus said that that wasn’t enough. In the Sermon on the Mount, He focused on the heart, not the commandment, and not the temple, as the arena God really wants to work in people’s lives.
2. The leaders said that the common people would and could never amount to anything in God’s eyes. Jesus said that God loves “sinners” and wants them to be part of His family. He was the one who went to the parties of the so-called sinners and welcomed in shifty business men and prostitutes—much to the dismay of the religious leaders.
3. The leaders said that observing the smallest commands in the law were as important as the biggest. Jesus said that fixes your heart on things in such a way that you can’t even see much less do the really important things. For example, the gospels record a number of healings Jesus did on the Sabbath. And the leaders were more upset that Jesus did “work” on the Sabbath than there were impressed by the power of God demonstrated by that healing.
4. Finally, for the leaders the Temple was all-important. But Jesus said that the temple was in the process of being set aside by God and that it would soon be destroyed—as it was 40 years after Jesus death and resurrection.
They debate the problem (47b-48)
"What are we accomplishing?" they asked. "Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation."
· We’re getting nowhere with “the Jesus problem”
· He’s doing miracles (really big ones these days!)
· He’s going to stir up the people
· They’ll be a rebellion
· The Romans will quash the rebellion
· Our “place” (the temple) will be destroyed (and we’ll be out of business, literally and figuratively)
· Our nation will be quashed
See any problems here?
· They never ask—doesn’t the fact that He does miracles point to us that God sent Him?
· Interesting fact: the Talmudic writings that refer to Jesus call Him a “deceiver” hanged (on the cross) on the eve of Passover. It says He led the people in heresy by doing sorcery.
They put order and the temple way ahead of the people—and with any concern for what the truth may be.
Caiaphas speaks (49-50)
49Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, "You know nothing at all! 50You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish."
· High Priest from 18-36 AD
· “That year”, not because the priesthood changed annually, but because in John’s memory, “that year” was “that fateful year”, the year of the cross
· Well-connected (father-in-law Annas was High Priest 6-15 AD)
· Side note: his bones discovered several years ago in an ossuary outside Jerusalem
· “You know nothing at all!”
· “It’s better that one man (Jesus) to die for the people (laos) than the whole nation (ethnos) perish.”
· What he means is that if this “Jesus movement” takes off, that will mean rebellion against Rome, the Romans will crush us all, destroy the temple, depose everybody and kill a lot of people. So, to stop all that, Jesus must die!
John tells us what it really means (51-53)
John, writing his gospel comments on what it all means:
51He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
But John says, Caiaphas said more than he knew:
· Honors Caiaphas as High Priest. Even though he didn’t realize it, God spoke through him.
· Are the gospels anti-Semitic? That’s one of the constant criticisms of the gospels—especially the gospel of John, and it’s the same criticism leveled against “The Passion.” Then why say that one of the key figures in seeking Jesus’ death spoke a prophecy of God?
But the conclusion stands: Jesus must die!
Jesus must die. But John says that the “on the ground” reason that Caiaphas has—to keep the Romans off our backs—isn’t enough.
John says that Jesus isn’t just dying for the Jewish nation, but for “the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.”
Why must Jesus die?
He is dying for a people.
He is dying to make a new creation.
He is dying as a substitute.
I love what Jesus says in John 12:32:
But I, if I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men [people] to myself.
In the context: being “lifted up” is up on the cross; “all men”: all sorts of people from all over the world. The same idea as in John 11: not just dying for Israel, but for “the scattered children of God” all over the world.
What’s we’re going to see is that beyond and above the reasons given here, and the fact that the Romans were willing and eager to go along with the concerns of the religious authorities for the same reason: to keep order—that there are three “beyond and above” reasons why Jesus had to die:
· Because of human sin
· Because it was His choice
· Because it was the Father’s will and even pleasure to have His Son die
God has His purposes, which are far more relevant to why Jesus had to die than any political calculation on the part of Caiaphas or the Sanhedrin.
In John 10:17-18, Jesus says,
17The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life--only to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."
He says that He’s laying down His life. No one, he says, takes it from me.
This speaks to one of the big items of controversy about the movie, The Passion of the Christ. Many claim that it is anti-Semitic. That it makes out “the Jews” as Christ-killers.
On one level, it’s clear that the Jewish religious authorities, led by Caiaphas and his father-in-law Annas, were the prime movers in seeking Jesus’ death.
And again, it’s also true that a weak and cruel Roman governor named Pilate gave the order to execute him.
But Jesus says, ultimately, it was not Jewish leaders or Roman rulers who took His life. You cannot take the life of the Son of God.
He lays down His life. He voluntarily surrenders it.
“The reason that my Father loves me,” says Jesus, “is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down again and authority to take it up again.” (10:17-18a)
Jesus is dying
To make a people
A people not just of Israel, but from all the peoples of the world
In terms we can all understand, Jesus died to bring YOU into His family; to embrace YOU in His arms.
How? What does His death do?
What does Jesus accomplish on that cross?
For hundreds of Israel, at Passover time, the people of Israel brought a lamb to the temple to be sacrificed. This commemorated the time of the first Passover, when the blood of that lamb was smeared on the doorframes of their slave-dwellings in Egypt. Every blood-covered home was spared God’s judgment and was set on the road to freedom.
And when Jesus appears, how does John, the Baptizer, refer to Him?
Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)
Here He is: not the lamb offered by an Israelite in faithful obedience on Passover year after year, but “the Lamb of God (that means, supplied by God) who takes away the sin of the world.”
There’s something wonderful and terrible about that.
He’s God’s lamb
God provided the lamb—not you or me
And He’s the decisive offering—He “takes away the sin of the world”
Won’t have to be done again and again, year after year
A lamb to be slaughtered
His blood shed
His life poured out
Jesus is the Lamb of God—supplied by God to pay off the debt of sin that you and I owe. He’s the Lamb of God, who takes the punishment who brings us peace.
It wasn’t the severity of His death that paid the price—it was the One who died that made that death worth enough to pay the price. That was His mission.
John writes this in John 3:17, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”
Caiaphas had just a little fragment of the truth: He thought Jesus would die as a substitute, so that many Israelites would not die at Roman hands.
Jesus would die as a substitute, but for the all the peoples of the earth. Not to save them from an oppressive empire, but from the eternal oppression of sin and slavery to Satan himself.
And in the process, He was making a new people, the gathered children of God from all nations. He was making a place, a home, a reception, for you.
So the plot to kill Jesus went forward. It was not the first time, and certainly not the last time, that cowardly rulers planned to kill a good man because He disrupted the status quo.
And Jesus just bides His time (54)
Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead he withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim, where He stayed with His disciples.
But this is just a pause.
The hour has almost come.
The hour of the cross is almost here.
Jesus must die.
And He dies for you.
© Glenn Layne, 2005
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Saturday, January 22, 2005
See the post at http://www.anklebitingpundits.com/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=915&mode=nocomments&order=1&thold=0
I maintain that she is literally mentally incapable of spelling the word electoral, as in Electoral College. If I wrote her a letter about the same, she would probably ask me where Electoral College is located...
Seriously, she's as (to borrow a line from "O Brother, Where Art Thou") as "dumb as a bag of hammers."
Email me at email@example.com.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Opening Statement of Senator Barbara Boxer at the Confirmation Hearing of Dr. Condoleezza Rice
January 18, 2005
I’d like to begin by welcoming Dr. Rice to this committee hearing.
It is my hope that today, we will have a candid discussion, Dr. Rice, because I believe it is crucial that a Secretary of State speak openly and honestly with the American people and with Congress. Frankly, this issue of candor is where my concern lies.
Translation: Condi, I think you're a liar.
Since 9/11, we have been engaged in a just fight against terrorism. I voted to use force against Osama bin Laden and the terrorists in Afghanistan, and I assumed that we would focus on that challenge, not stopping until we got bin Laden, dead or alive, and broke the back of al Qaeda.
Translation: I am incapable of remembering my own comments on the danger of Hussein. Instead, my little nose smells blood. My, my fellow nitwits in San Fran will approve.
However, instead, with you in a lead role Dr. Rice, we went into Iraq. I want to read you one paragraph that best expresses my views, and the views of millions of Californians, on the impact of the Iraqi war on the war against terrorism. It was written by one of the world’s experts on terrorism and foreign policy, Peter Bergen, five months ago.
Who is Peter Bergen?
Peter Bergen is a print and television journalist and author of Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden. A documentary based on Holy War, Inc. was nominated for an Emmy in 2002 in the research category. Mr. Bergen is CNN's terrorism analyst and an Adjunct Professor at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He has written for The New York Times, The New Republic, Vanity Fair, Foreign Affairs, The Washington Post, The Washington Times and The Washington Monthly. He is on the editorial board of Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. From 1985 to 1990 he worked for ABC News in New York. Mr. Bergen received a B.A. in Modern History from New College, Oxford University.
For an example of his tripe, see http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2003/0312.bergen.html
What we have done in Iraq is what bin Laden could not have hoped for in his wildest dreams: We invaded an oil-rich Muslim nation in the heart of the Middle East, the very type of imperial adventure that bin Laden has long predicted was the United States' long-term goal in the region. We deposed the secular socialist Saddam, whom bin Laden has long despised, ignited Sunni and Shia fundamentalist fervor in Iraq, and have now provoked a “defensive” jihad that has galvanized jihad-minded Muslims around the world. It's hard to imagine a set of policies better designed to sabotage the war on terrorism.
This conclusion was reiterated last Thursday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA Director’s think tank, which released a report saying that Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of “professionalized” terrorists. NIC Chairman Robert L. Hutchings said that Iraq is “a magnet for international terrorist activity.” These quotations are significant to this hearing, Dr. Rice, because as a major proponent and spokesperson for the war in Iraq, and as someone who was asked by the President to make the case for this war to the American people, and as the person in charge of the reconstruction effort– you have many questions to answer to the American people.
This war was sold to the American people– as Chief of Staff to President Bush, Andy Card said– like a “new product.” You rolled out the idea and then you had to convince the people, and as you made your case, I personally believe that your loyalty to the mission you were given overwhelmed your respect for the truth.
That was a great disservice to the American people. But worse than that, our young men and women are dying. So far, 1,366 American troops have been killed in Iraq. More than 25 percent of those troops were from California. More than 10,372 have been wounded.
I don’t want their families to think for a minute that their lives and bodies were given in vain.
OK, it's my turn. Babs, you do want them to think exactly that, for extraordinarily short-term political gain. What a liar.
Because when your commander in chief asks you to sacrifice yourself for your country, it is noble to answer the call. I am giving their families all the support that they want and need, but I will also not shrink from questioning a war that was not built on the truth.
Perhaps the most well known statement you have made was the one about Saddam Hussein launching a nuclear weapon on America, with the image of a “mushroom cloud.” That image had to frighten every American into believing that Saddam Hussein was on the verge of annihilating them if he was not stopped.
I will be placing into the record a number of other such statements which have not been consistent with the facts nor the truth.
As the nominee for Secretary of State, you now must answer to the American people through the confirmation process.
Translation: you must answer to my SF social circle of leftist kooks and loons.
I continue to stand in awe of our founders, who understood that ultimately, those of us in the highest positions of our government, must be accountable to the people we serve.
The founders? Give her a minute and she'll also denounce them as slave-owning, Native American-killing religious fanatic gun owers...
Between the challenge of the votes of the people of Ohio, and the behavior displayed at the Rice hearings today, you have surely cemented your place in history.
No doubt your actions will be studied in future generations.
Of course, you will studied as the biggest buffoon in the history of the United States Senate.
I'm ashamed to be a Californian today.
Dr. Glenn LayneTemple City, CA
A red-state soul trapped in blue-state foolishness.
Franklin Pierce is widely regarded as the worst US President. Now the Senate has Babs Boxer. In the words of George Clooney in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", she's as "dumb as a bag of hammers."
Monday, January 17, 2005
Contact me at glennlayne@ pastors.com. DURABLE DATA
Friday, January 14, 2005
The other day you said that people should know about the pastors who blog--that said blogging is indicative of a pastor who is plugged in to the culture and that their churches deserved a shout-out.
So let me introduce myself. I'm Glenn Layne, Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Temple City, CA. For the benefit of the Pittsburgh Steelers fans, Temple City is adjacent to Pasadena. Like you, I am an expatriate Buckeye here doing ministry here on the Left Coast. (Native Californians don't like to admit it, but this place would fall apart if it we're for us Midwesterners bringing Red State sensibility to the place. And yes, I thanked friends and relatives in Ohio for saving us all from Kerry.)
About me: BA in Poltical Science from Alderson-Broaddus College in WV; MA in Political Science from Ohio U; MDiv and DMin from Gordon-Conwell Theological Semiary in Massachusetts. Married for 24 1/2 years to Lynann, two almost grown children.
Politics: center right. Long ago, a considered myself a conservative Democrat, but like Reagan said, I didn't move--the party did.
My blog can be found at www.durabledata.blogspot.com. No, I don't blog every day. Pastoral life makes that hard. I like to publish here columns I've written for the church newsletter, or I'll take an article from Drudge or maybe something you've linked, and I'll scatter my comments within it. I, like most of the Blogosphere, obsessed the 2004 election, and in my final call did very well: a week before projected a 51-47 win for Bush and only got one state wrong (WI).
I'll keep listening, you keep talking and we'll both keep it going.
PS. My church website is www.templecitybaptist.org.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
THREE STEPS OF FAITH
January 23, 2005
We continue looking at faith this week, in this series on faith. What is faith? How do we grow in faith?
Part of the answer lies in the subtitle of this series: “Trusting God in the details of life.” Biblical faith bridges the expanse from trusting God for salvation—for being made right with Him—all the way to trusting God to stretch your paycheck to cover your needs.
What I want to do with you today is to explore how faith grows. There are things you can do to feed your faith. And we are going to start from ground level and build our way up.
First, an observation. Nobody lives without faith. If you remember the basic definition that faith always involves the unseen (2 Corinthians 5:7—“we live by faith, not by sight”), then we all exercise faith all the time by the fact that we trust things we can’t see. At the risk of making you kind of paranoid, how do you know that that roof up there isn’t about to crash in on you any minute now? Well, you could inspect it I guess, but most of us don’t go around inspecting the roofs of every building we enter. Instead, we trust that since it’s held up as long as it has, it will keep up holding up—at least while I’m in it. (And as we’ll see, trust is the same thing as faith; as a matter of fact, it may be a better word than “faith”.)
There are three things that are the necessary ingredients to real faith. Any one by itself would not be real faith. And as you grow in each of these, more and more real faith is operating in your life.
Those three are:
Let’s take these one at a time.
Faith requires understanding. And it thrives on understanding. That is, the real kind of faith we find in the Bible. There are some frauds running around pretending to be real faith that say that your brain is your problem, that your mind gets in the way—that real faith involves emptying your head. Not so, not at all.
Let’s look at this from the standpoint of saving faith. The Bible says that you have to know some basic information in order to have faith. Look to Romans 10:14:
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
The Bible assumes that no real faith can take place without a basic understanding of God and His love. Words have to be shared that tell what God is like and how He’s acted in sending His Son. In the context of Romans 10, Paul is writing that that faith must be directed toward the person of Jesus Christ and what He has done. In verse 9, he says,
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Here are the basics, things you have to know to exercise saving faith:
1. Jesus is Lord. He is unique and no one else is like Him.
2. He died on the cross to pay the price of my sins.
3. God raised Him from the dead.
Nobody can be made right with God without knowing these things. Now there is a widespread mood, a concept that many have fallen for, that says faith doesn’t have to have content. People say, “Just have faith.” And I answer, “In what?” Faith always has an object. If you have faith that your car will start, then the object of your faith is your car. That’s a reasonable kind of faith.
But what if I told you that I have faith that if I put an olive pit in my left ear, it will bring me joy, prosperity and eternal life? You would either (A) conclude that I’m insane or (B) say, “That’s some olive pit!” (PS, the right answer is A!)
No we don’t teach the idea of “having faith in faith.” Our faith has content. And the more we know, the stronger our faith can become. Christians don’t believe that knowledge is at odds with faith. As a matter of fact, we believe the opposite. Knowledge feeds and strengthens faith. Faith involves the unseen, not the unknown!
Let me give you some examples. If I read a book like Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ, and see all the hard historical evidence for the reality and claims of Jesus, then that’s a faith-builder. My faith isn’t built on that evidence, but it is strengthened by that evidence. If I go to a seminar like the one I did a few summers ago on Biblical archaeology, that’s a faith-builder too. If I read what many modern physicists are saying about design in creation, that strengthens my faith.
But there’s a source of faith building much closer to you: the Bible itself. In that same chapter, Romans 10, verse 17, Paul reminds us that, “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Time spent in the pages of Scripture, as we learn the great stories of the Bible, as we meditate on the great passages, expand our faith. God’s word is powerful, and it’s powerful in growing our faith. As we know it better, we are changed by that exposure to the light of God’s word, the same way exposing film changes it and puts a new image on the film. Again, let’s be clear: understanding is not a barrier to real faith; it’s an ally of real faith.
But understanding alone does not produce faith. For example, in the fall of 2003, we showed a video of a debate between the Christian, Jay Smith, and the Muslim, Sabir Ally, on the topic “Who is the real Jesus?” (This video is now available in our church library.) Most of my experience with Muslims is that they are very ill informed about what Christians believe. But not Sabir. I was impressed with how sharp his knowledge of the New Testament was and how well he knew what Christians believe. His understanding was excellent, but that didn’t mean he had real faith.
So we start with understanding. You also need…
By that I mean, you have to say, “Not only do I understand, I agree. This message about Jesus being God’s Son, the Lord, dying on the cross for me and risen from the dead, I confess to be true.”
It is possible to understand but not to agree that it’s true—like Sabir Ally or like the early 20th century Bible scholar Rudolf Bultmann. I remember reading Bultmann’s NT commentaries when I was in seminary. It was often technically excellent, but it was also soulless—there was no joy in the Lord there. You see, Bultmann may have been a scholar, but he was not a believer. He scoffed at the very idea of a God that does miracles. Although he knew the Bible very well, he didn’t agree with it, he didn’t confess it as truth.
He wasn’t the first scholar in that boat. Remember Nicodemus? In John 3, we read that he came visit Jesus by night (so as to keep the meeting secret, and not tarnish his reputation).
In John 3:1-3 we read,
1Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."
3In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
Nicodemus is well beyond where Sabir and Bultmann were. The interesting thing for me is that Nicodemus doesn’t just understand what Jesus teaches (at least, he thought he did)—He also approves of His teaching. “We know you are a teacher who has come from God.” That’s sounds pretty approving!
But then Jesus cuts him off. “Whoa right there, Nick. I appreciate the kind words, but you are spiritually blind. You can’t see God’s kingdom unless you have something more that kind words for my teaching. You need a brand new birth to get it.”
Millions of North Americans and Latin Americans and Europeans are classified as Christians, but would not meet the criteria as laid out by Jesus. There are just about where Nicodemus was. As a matter of fact, they would go a lot further. They would say that they believe that Jesus is God’s Son. They would say that they believe He rose from the dead. There is all the approval or agreement in the world, but there is not the kind of connection and transformation that Jesus is talking about here.
That brings us to the element that ties it all together:
3. Personal Trust
Remember what I said about real Biblical faith last week:
In the Bible, faith is not a leap in the dark, or just an agreement that something is true. In the Bible, faith is immediate, consistent and relational trust in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ. In the Bible, you don’t have faith in a church or in certain doctrines; you have faith in God Himself.
This kind of faith moves a person from being an outside observer to an inside participant. This means moving from approving or agreeing with the teachings of the Bible to engaging in a life-transforming encounter with God that changes me, in which I trust in the living Jesus Christ to forgive me and to ensure that I will spend eternity with Him.
The Bible uses a number of dramatic symbols to represent this kind of faith-encounter with God’s grace. Probably none are as dramatic as the one Jesus used with Nicodemus: being born again, or (you can translate it either way) being born from above. In computorese, to be born again is to reboot your life with a new operating system that comes straight from God. All the old viruses in your system are wiped away, and a no further upgrades are needed. You are new, and the new you will last forever.
Millions of people around the world who call themselves Christians don’t get this idea. They have a basic understanding, and they agree with or approve the message, but there is no element of personal trust involved.
Canberra is the capital of Australia. I know, I looked it up. I understand that, and I agree that it’s true. But I’ve never been to Canberra. There is no “trust” involved in me saying that Canberra is the capital of Australia. It’s a passionless, soulless confession of faith for me to say, “I believe that Canberra is the capital of Australia.” That’s not what the Bible means when it speaks about faith. There is passion, personal experience and personal transformation in Biblical faith.
As theologian Wayne Grudem says, “Because saving faith in Scripture involves this personal trust, the word ‘trust’ is a better word to use in contemporary culture than the word ‘faith’ or ‘believe.’”
As a matter of fact, the word “faith” is often used to express a groundless hope, like when your favorite football team has a 6-10 record, and someone says, “Just have faith!”
Now I’ve mostly applied this to saving faith—the fact that you need to have a personal, passionate trust in Jesus Christ and what He did for you on the cross to be made right with God and to be part of His family forever. But there’s more.
That same kind of passionate trust is what fuels the whole Christian life. Again, to follow Jesus Christ is not a one-time decision—although it starts with a decision. To follow Him means a life of following in His example of love of the Father and love of doing the Father’s will. It means a life of continuous growth as we face trial and challenge with a trusting heart. And that happens when God gets into the details of our lives.
One way we symbolize this is giving thanks before meals. Do you know why that’s the Christian habit? The idea is to teach us to trust God for every bite we take. We live in such plenty we get in the habit of taking for granted that there’s always food. Giving thanks is something we do to remind ourselves that food is a gift of God to sustain our lives.
Let me suggest to you that there are four areas in which we really see our faith grow:
1. When we need to make a decision
2. When we are tempted
3. When we go trough a crisis and
4. When we need provision.
I’m going to say more about all these in the weeks to come. But let me finish with a few thoughts about how important personal trust in the Lord is in the first case: when we face a decision.
I’ve mentioned Steve Robbins before. Steve is a pastor (at First Baptist of Pico) and also runs Robbins’ Nest Ministries, which focuses on advancing the spiritual formation of pastors and churches. The slogan of the ministry is “Stop. Look. Listen.” That’s not only a good warning for kids when they cross the street, it’s good spiritual advice.
STOP. We run around doing our own thing, and hope that it’s OK with God. That’s backwards. If you want to make sure that God’s in something that you do, make sure it’s His idea. It’s good to sit at Jesus’ feet and just stop. God designed us to take regular Sabbath breaks.
So stop, and come before Jesus. Stop and recognize Him as Lord of your life. Stop and seek His will. Don’t expect that God’s job is to bless the mess that you plan. God’s plans are so much better. Paul says in Romans 12:2 that God’s will is “his good, pleasing and perfect will.” That’s always better than my plans.
LOOK. Look around, now that you’ve stopped. Look at God’s word, look at circumstances, and look at God’s work in your life thus far.
Above all else, look to Jesus. Hebrews 12:2a says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” Listen carefully: The primary pattern of God’s will being worked out in a person’s life will always be found in the example of Jesus Himself.
James Dobson has some great advice. He says when he needs God’s guidance, “I get down on my knees and say, ‘Lord, I need to know what you want me to do, and I am listening. Please speak to me through my friends, books, magazines I pick up and read, and through circumstances.” Jesus had the same pattern: He prayed, and He listened, and He allowed the so-called interruptions show Him what His Father wanted done.
This isn’t a formula; it’s a matter of personal trust. One thing I have noticed is that the believers I know who consistently make bad decisions are people who would never even cross their mind to take to someone else about their decision. Cut off from other believers, they are cut off from Jesus’ own voice. There’s a reason the church is called the body of Christ. He speaks through His people.
LISTEN. Listen to God’s word, to God’s Spirit, and to God’s people. All three of those—the word, the Spirit, and God’s people—because God’s guidance will never contradict His word, and God will speak through His people.
Listen to God especially in those quiet times of prayer and meditation on God’s word. (And if you don’t have such times, don’t expect to hear much! It’s like saying, “Lord speak to me, if you can just yell over all the noise I’m making!)
God promises to answer and to guide. Jeremiah 33:3 says,
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.
That’s the kind of fruit real faith produces: knowing that God hears and answers, having Jesus go before us to guide us and to show us what He has in mind for us. That’s the fruit of a life of personal trust in the Lord who loves you and watches out for you. He wants to restore the closeness we were designed to have with Him. And that happens as we have real faith in Him, real trust.
Lord Jesus, help us pursue You with all our hearts. Teach us the value of growing in understanding, in agreement with you and especially in personal trust. Then we will live the life you intended for us—as we see your guiding hand on all parts of our lives.
Thank you for the adventure you created us to enjoy.
In Jesus, Amen.
© Glenn Layne 2005
DOWN MY LAYNE
From the Desk of Pastor Glenn Layne
Every year at about this time I begin to consider what I will teach for our annual Summer Bible Institute. A column by Charles Colson gave me my title: “Worldview Boot Camp.” The way people approach reality is based on something called our worldview. We all have a worldview, and many of us are inconsistent in our worldview. Worldviews need to be evaluated, and they have to be. Some of us actually flit from one worldview to another. How do we think “Christianly”? What is the Christian worldview?
I often tell the story of finding an old poster in my office in New Hampshire that had these words:
There are two fundamental facts of the universe:
1. There is a God
2. You are not God
I had this illustrated recently. Last spring, I was on a panel discussion of same-sex marriage at USC. I was there as an advocate of “traditional” marriage from a faith point of view. At one point, I shared the above and a distinguished-looking gentleman said, “I find that statement very disturbing.” If we human beings aren’t the final authority, he asked, then who is? Doesn’t that mean that I supposed a theocracy—the rule of a religious elite over all people?
I’m always amazed at intelligent, educated people who are so incredibly ignorant of the Christian faith. But there is a reason he found this disturbing apart from ignorance: it was outside of his worldview. He had a humanistic worldview, which either regards God as a myth or as irrelevant.
What is the Christian worldview? Well, that poster is a good start. Let me give you eight characteristics (these are adapted from the excellent book, The Universe Next Door by James Sire):
1. God exists. He is infinite and personal; He is triune and one; He is sovereign and good.
The personality of God is a conviction held fully only by Christians and devout Jews, and God’s tri-unity is distinctly Christian.
2. God created the universe from nothing; the universe gets its order from Him.
This idea would be foreign to the man at USC. Christians all believe that the world gets its significance from its creator, even if we don’t agree on exactly how God created the universe.
3. Human beings are created in the image of God, and thus have personality, creativity and a value that is derived from God.
This is the fundamental reason that the main body of Christians object to abortion. We don’t see humans as just the cleverest animal on the planet, but as distinctly different from all other creatures in that we bear God’s image.
4. Human beings can know both the world around them and God; He desires to have fellowship with us.
Here’s where Christian belief is radically different from the deism held by men like Jefferson and Franklin: we believe that God is active in our world, and interested in human affairs.
5. Human beings were created good, but choose sin and rebellion against God, defacing that original goodness. Now, in Christ, God offers a way of restoration to that original goodness, and is in the process of making that happen.
Are people basically good? Well, we were created good, but we didn’t stay that way. Look at human history for proof of the depravity of the human heart. This is another place were our faith is radically at odds with our culture.
6. Death is not the end; either it leads to eternity with God, or eternal separation from God (hell).
Most moderns consider death the absolute end, or that we become part of God (kind of like Hinduism) or that certainly there can be no such place as hell.
7. Morality is universal and absolute, based on the holy character of God.
This is a howler for modern secularists. “How can you say that morality is universal and absolute? Look how much cultures vary from one another!”
But what we mean by this is that God has a morality that is absolute and unchanging, regardless of what people do. Further, it’s amazing how much the people of earth agree on basic morality. (See the appendix in C.S. Lewis’ The Abolition of Man, entitled “Illustrations of the Tao.”
8. History has a purpose: a linear sequence of events leading to the fulfillment of God’s purposes for creation.
Finally, we believe that the world has a destination. We are not caught in an endless loop (as in Hinduism) and life does have a purpose outside of ourselves (something most moderns would not want to agree with).
Next month I want to address the problem of Christians with confused worldviews. The problem is not that 21st century Christians don’t have a worldview—it’s that we have too many at the same time! That’s what we’ll grapple with in this space next month.
PS: you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Kennedy: Democrats Need Progressive Agenda
Wed Jan 12, 9:56 PM ET
By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - Sen. Edward Kennedy offered a mild dig at fellow Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign Wednesday, saying Democrats should have done a better job talking about values.
Kennedy said relatively small swings in several states — including a shift of 60,000 votes in Ohio — could have triggered a different outcome or given Democrats more seats in the House and Senate. He also rejected suggestions that Bush's win was "somehow a sweeping or a modest or even a miniature mandate for reactionary measures like privatizing Social Security."
While Kennedy said it is too easy to blame the loss on a particular issue or tactic, Democrats do need to "do a better job of looking within ourselves and speaking out for the principles we believe in."
"We were remiss in not talking more directly about them — about the fundamental ideals that guide our progressive policies," he said. [Notice he couldn't bring himself to use the "L" word.] He added that Kerry's loss also showed that Democrats must communicate better with voters on issues of deep conscience, including abortion, without yielding the party's support for a woman's right to choose.
[In other words, don't change a thing, just shout louder. What a paleo-liberal.]
In a speech punctuated with broad liberal proposals [is the media actually allowed to use that word?] to expand federal support for education and Medicare, Kennedy outlined a progressive agenda for Congress and the party.
"We cannot move our party or our nation forward under pale colors and timid voices," said Kennedy, who has served 42 years in the Senate. "We cannot become Republican clones. If we do, we will lose again, and deserve to lose."
[Translation: Joe Lieberman can go jump in a lake...oh maybe that's not the best term to use around Teddy...]
He said Medicare should be gradually expanded to cover all citizens, and the cost would be funded through payroll taxes and general revenues and offset by savings through advances in technology.
[Translation: we need to raise your taxes.]
Kennedy also called for greater federal support for college costs, saying every student who is admitted to college should be guaranteed the cost of earning a degree.
[Translation: we really need to raise your taxes.]
Danny Diaz, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said that while the GOP is working on health care and other issues, Kennedy's remarks "offered anger, but lacked an agenda for the future."
Kennedy's speech came as Democrats — divided and battered by the second bitter presidential defeat in a row — continue to wrangle over their party's direction.
But Kennedy declined to say who should lead the party as the next Democratic National Committee chairman. The contest is wide open and all of the candidates — including former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean — would bring a different experience and talent to the job, he said.
Ever since Kerry's loss — and GOP's gains in both the House and Senate — Democrats have been chewing over their inability to connect with enough voters to wrest the Oval Office from a president weakened by a faltering economy and an increasingly unpopular war.
And they have debated how to compete with Republicans for the support
of social conservatives whose votes may have been swayed by hot-button values issues like abortion, religion and gay marriage.
On Wednesday, Kennedy also laid down markers for the coming congressional session, vowing to defeat President Bush's efforts to revamp Social Security and to reject policies that send jobs overseas.
[My take: just let the Dems twist in the wind.]
In other comments, Kennedy deftly dodged a question about whether foreign-born citizens should be allowed to become president.
"I didn't know David Ortiz was planning to run," said Kennedy, referring to the Boston Red Sox slugger who is Dominican.
He then looked out at his sister Eunice Shriver, who was in the audience, and said, "Did you hear that, Eunice?"
Shriver's daughter Maria is married to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has been talked about as a potential presidential contender but was born in Austria.
Kennedy also mangled the name of the Democrats' new star, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, calling him "Osama bin ... Osama ... Obama."
Is this guy an embarrasment or what?
Ohio Court Dismisses Election Challenges
U.S. National - AP
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a challenge from voters to the presidential election in light of last week's certification of the electoral vote and the upcoming inauguration.
A lawyer for the plaintiffs, a group of 37 voters, had moved Tuesday to drop the lawsuit, saying it is now moot. The high court agreed without comment to dismiss it.
Citing fraud, the suit had asked the court to examine several problems with voting procedures in the hopes of overturning President Bush's victory in the state.
The election turned on Ohio's 20 electoral college votes, and not until preliminary results were available early Nov. 3 did Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry concede.
Attorney Cliff Arnebeck, who represented the voters, wanted the court to examine several Election Day problems such as long lines, a shortage of voting machines in predominantly minority neighborhoods and problems with computer equipment.
[Since when are long lines a indication of fraud? Sue the nearest Starbucks!]Arnebeck said Tuesday the voters couldn't expect to win the suit given the congressional certification of the electoral votes last week and the inauguration next week.
But Arnebeck pledged that he was not quitting. Without giving specifics, he said he would still pursue challenges in either state or federal courts.
Comments: Arnebeck, get a life.
Top Stories - Los Angeles Times
Republican Sues for Washington Revote
Sat Jan 8, 7:55 AM ET
Top Stories - Los Angeles Times
By Sam Howe Verhovek Times Staff Writer
SEATTLE — Brandishing allegations that dead people, felons and other ineligible voters cast ballots in Washington state's close election for governor, the Republican candidate filed a lawsuit Friday, seeking the extraordinary remedy of a new election.
Christine Gregoire, the Democratic state attorney general, last week was declared the winner by just 129 votes of the nearly 2.9 million cast. She will be sworn in Wednesday.
The candidate on the losing end of that certification, former state Sen. Dino Rossi, said he would petition a court for an unprecedented statewide revote, which he called the only way to fix the "certified mess" of the one conducted Nov. 2.
"Most Washingtonians don't believe this has been a valid election," Rossi said at a news conference, where he was joined by former Republican U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton in the call for a new vote. "They want a revote to make sure our state has a legitimate governor," Rossi said.
In the initial count of the results and a mandatory recount, both conducted with machine readers, Rossi was declared the winner — in the latter case by 42 votes. That margin, 0.0015%, made the race one of the closest statewide contests in U.S. history.
But Gregoire, taking advantage of a Washington election-law provision for a statewide hand recount of all the ballots, prevailed in the third round, as roughly 2,000 ballots that were not read by the machines helped her gain her own razor-thin margin of victory. Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the election Dec. 30, but it did not bring legal maneuvering to a close.
In recent days, some Republican poll watchers have emerged to say they saw so-called provisional voters being allowed to cast their ballots directly into the election machines, rather than into special envelopes that should have gone to county election boards to certify the voters' eligibility.
And the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in stories Friday, reported at least 25 instances of people who died before their absentee ballots were mailed being listed as voting in the election.
[Where do they think this is? Chicago?]
Gregoire said Friday that the election and the recounts had been conducted in a "consummate professional way" and that she saw no evidence of the sort of massive fraud or malfeasance that would be necessary to challenge her victory.
Regarding Rossi's lawsuit, which was filed in conservative-friendly Chelan County, Gregoire said: "I respect the rights of others to file an action in court. That's their right. I have to respect that; I'm the attorney general."
The bizarre race has taken so many twists and turns that nobody seems to know how it will wind up.
Some political experts here said it was striking how the two sides had reversed their roles — when Rossi was ahead, Republicans called on Democrats to accept the results and "move on." Gregoire and her supporters, planning for an inauguration ceremony in Olympia that Republicans may boycott, are now essentially saying the same thing to the Rossi camp.
Lance T. LeLoup, a political science professor at Washington State University, said that Gregoire seemed to hold the upper hand both legally and politically and that the Republican idea of a revote could set a dangerous precedent.
"They're doing more to undermine public confidence in the election system than the election did itself," LeLoup said of the Republicans and their lawsuit. "No matter what they say now, the fact is it is coming across as totally contrary to what the Republicans said about Bush in 2000 and what they said when Rossi was ahead in the count. There's an element of sore-loserism to it."
But former Sen. Gorton aid there was an element of fair play at issue: "The number of votes cast — questionably, illegally or mistakenly — is vastly in excess of 129 votes, the margin by which this election was certified."
The thicket of issues raised in the lawsuit could take weeks to untangle, but it might lead a judge in Chelan County to issue an injunction blocking the inauguration, which is what some Republicans seem to be hoping for. If an injunction were in effect, it is not clear who would serve as the state's governor.
But for now, Gregoire remains scheduled to take the oath of office. She also dismisses the revote proposal as "absolutely ludicrous."
The Seattle newspapers found explanations for some of the dead voters.
In one case, a man, who could now be subject to prosecution, told the Post-Intelligencer that he had followed his dying wife's wishes on how she would have wanted her ballot cast, even though she died Sept. 29. She voted — or rather he voted, twice — for Rossi.
"At the time, I really thought, honestly, it wasn't going to make a difference — this one vote — but it was going to make a difference for her," Robert Holmgren told the paper. "Who would ever guess the vote was going to be that close?"
OK. My thoughts:
1. Memo to Dino: They stole it, but it's time to act more like John Thune than Al Gore.
2. No revotes/do-overs. This is not a playground, or the UN (often indistinguishable from one another).
3. See my earlier post from January 1; there's no doubt this is a stolen election.
Monday, January 10, 2005
1. I made the big time in a little way, with my pathetic Moses Blogger (hey that'd be great name for a Blog!) submitted past deadline to www.radioblogger.com (see http://www.radioblogger.com/archives/whereintheblog.html).
2. I did scoop the 911/People's Choice thing...sort of. I was unaware the the PC awards had a separte category for "Best Drama" and the Passion won that. Now they can say two kooks were honored: Mel on the right and Mike on the left, a sad case of moral equivalence.
3. The Blogosphere was abuzz today with the CBS Rathergate Report, and Hewitt is right, it's a soft pillow torture for Rather (Monty Python fans will know of what I speak). HH says what I think: "Some bloggers are bending over to find good in the CBS report. Why they should be in a hurry to dress up this sow is beyond me, but to each this or her own. The Panel failed in its central tasks, and there is no avoiding that conclusion --unless you are Les Moonves or Andrew Heyward."
IMHO: I don't mind Rather being let down gently. He's out the door anyway, and those rare times I see the 6:30 MSM news, it's Williams on NBC. What I think is critical is CBS's willingness to do something bold. That would mean--
--coming to grips with the new media news world, driven as it is by the net and bloggers in specific;
--altaring the format of the news broadcast with that in mind;
--identifying commentary as such, and being balanced Lib/Cons;
--not being afraid of a personality-driven news broadcast.
But hey, that sounds too much like Fox News...
Sunday, January 09, 2005
How'd that happen? See the secret inside the story?
January 9, 2005 -- Lefty filmmaker Michael Moore has been tipped he's going to win the People's Choice Award tonight, Tom O'Neil reports at goldderby.com.
This is the first year these awards - which insiders have long suspected notifies winners in advance - resorted to online voting instead of a Gallup poll.
[Aha, that's the secret! Use a skewed on-line poll, which always is well left of center! I smell a conspiracy!]
Tinseltown has been buzzing about organized campaigns on behalf of Moore's Bush-bashing "Fahrenheit 9/11," which goes up against the likes of "Spider-Man 2" and "The Incredibles" for favorite movie, as well as for Mel Gibson's equally controversial "The Passion of the Christ," which is up for best drama.
Moore's flacks didn't return Post movie critic Lou Lumenick's calls, but sources confirmed he is snubbing tonight's New York Film Critics Circle awards to attend the Hollywood ceremony, where polar opposite Gibson is also expected to make an appearance.
This is a transperant fraud. The real people's choice was The Passion of the Christ, which I didn't expect to get selected, and now I know why.
Friday, January 07, 2005
Sane Democrats In Dire Need Of A ''Juicy Fruit'' Moment
Yesterday was one of those times that I had to pinch myself and wonder when I was going to wake up from the dream. I realized while watching the dual spectacles taking place on my TV (OK, my computer screen) that I was witnessing the unraveling of a once proud political party.
Believe it or not I did so with a mixture of glee and pity.
The glee of course was realizing that despite the continual trouncing at the polls year after year the Democratic leadership still doesn't get it. It's almost as if they're purposely going further and further out of the mainstream of America, which will assure them of nothing but a permanent residence in the minority.
But there was also a twinge of sadness. No, I'm not kidding. Anyone who is a student of history knows that at one time Democrats were not the terrorist appeasing panty-waists and moon bat conspiracy theorists they showed themselves to be today.
Roosevelt was the catalyst in defeating the world's greatest evil. Truman dropped the bomb on Japan. JFK went to the right of Nixon in 1960 on anti-Communism and proved in his short time as President that it wasn't an empty campaign rhetoric. Scoop Jackson proudly carried the flag of American military might and the ideals of our country. Even recently, Zell Miller and Joe Lieberman have shown themselves to be men of honor and wisdom when it came to defending America. But today they are the exceptions rather than the rule.
As I watched the Democrats performing political suicide I could not help but think that if they were doing the equivalent harm to their bodies as they were to their political future as a party they would be in an insane asylum. And then it hit me. What the Democrats need now, before it is too late, is a "Juicy Fruit" moment. What's a "Juicy Fruit" moment you ask? Click READ MORE to find out. Remember the scene in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest where Jack Nicholson's character, Randall Patrick McMurphy, offers a piece of gum to the silent giant known as "Chief"? Theretofore everyone thought the Chief was simply a patient who was a deaf mute that did nothing but wander around aimlessly sweeping the floor (except of course when he stood still and held a basketball above his head at the urging of McMurphy, and raised a hand to watch the World Series).
But a funny thing happened when Chief took the stick of gum. He put it in his mouth and very quietly said, "Ah, Juicy Fruit". It was at that moment that McMurphy realized that Chief was sane, in retrospect probably the most sane one in the whole asylum, staff included.
That's what the Democrats need now - a "Chief" to speak up and let everyone know they're not a bunch of raving nut jobs, especially after the abominations that took place yesterday.
The first sign of meltdown yesterday was expected in advance, but still amazing to watch. The setting was the confirmation hearing of Alberto Gonzales.
This great man, who worked his way up from nothing to become one of the most powerful men in the country was treated by Senate Democrats on the Committee as if he were a criminal for trying to protect the citizens of the United States. At issue is the now infamous, and wrongly tabbed "torture memos" in which Gonzales, doing his DUTY as White House counsel reviewed and opined on the legalities of certain interrogation techniques to be used on those who want to kill us en masse.
Pat Leahy of Vermont opened the Bush bashing session, er, confirmation hearing. If a Martial landed yesterday, knowing nothing about politics, he would think that Leahy represented a group of people called "Al Queda" from places called "Guantonamo" and "Abu Ghraib".
We'll be blunt. Even though we saw Leahy's mouth moving yesterday, we wonder if Ramsey Clark or Osama Bin Laden was pulling the strings to make it move. Even more shockingly, he opined that the Geneva Conventions protections apply to Al Queda terrorists even though they are not POW's. Leahy would rather these animals get "3 hots and a cot" and be as comfortable as possible during their stay. Leahy constantly references "abuses" to and "torture" of terrorists, but not once did he mention the 3,000 Americans killed on 9/11.
Next followed an almost surreal moment when Ted Kennedy expressed outrage that terrorists were subjected to water "torture" and the fear that they might drown. Certainly that's an area in which the Senator is well versed.
Soon after Joe Biden was on display for 10 minutes, during which time he and Gonzalez spoke a total of 1,519 words until Biden's red light mercifully came on. Gonzales's contribution was "Yes sir". Biden used his 1,517 words to engage in a childish display in which he demeaned Gonzales's judgment. The rest of the "questioning" by Democratic Senators on the panel was no different.
We were next treated to the embarrassing spectacle of Maxine Waters and Barbara Boxer, among others challenging the counting of Ohio's Electoral votes, when even John Kerry himself admitted there was no proof of fraud. It was damn near comical hearing Maxine Waters say she was ashamed that Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell was a black man, and to hear John Conyers praise Michael Moore as a truth teller.
Memo to these brain dead dopes. People who choose not to wait in line to vote does not constitute vote fraud - it's a choice they make. Further, you may want to have a conversation with the election officials who run the show in the counties at issue - since they are all Democrats we're pretty sure they'll take your call.
In the case of Gonzales hearings are the Democrats too blind, too arrogant, or both, in failing to realize that sympathizing with the plight of those poor terrorists who mean us harm is not the way to win back the White House or Congress? Do they really think the majority of Americans lie awake at night concerning themselves with whether or not an Al Queda member gets his sleep interrupted, is forced to stand for long periods of time, or even gets a smack in the mouth or kick in the nuts every now and then? Well, judging by today's questioning you would think so. (Also evident from today's hearings is that Democrats could care less about torture - how else to explain subjecting the nation to a stammering Ted Kennedy for 10 minutes?)
And let's be honest here for a second, does anyone really care if, in the process of an interrogation, an Al Queda terrorist dies? Speaking for myself my only lament would be if he didn't give us all the information he may have had before assuming room temperature.
And in reality it appears the Democrats may be making a big deal over an interrogation tactic that might not even be used anymore because they don't produce results, and despite what the Dems think that's the goal here for professional interrogators (we can't speak for the Lynndie England's of the world who have no excuse for their behavior).
One wonders what must be going through mind of someone like a Joe Lieberman, an Evan Bayh, or a Ben Nelson, when they see when they see their party disgrace itself in such a way. It's not often though, that you get to see a train wreck as it's occurring. And make no mistake, today was a train wreck for the Democratic party.
Since nearly every conservative or moderate Democrat tried to keep a low profile today we hope they were in the office planning the "Juicy Fruit" moment. Because as much as we like to criticize the Democrats our country is far better served to have two strong political parties who can debate about issues in a sane manner and have honest disagreements. But so long as the only faces they show voters is that of terrorist appeasers and raving lunatics wearing tin foil hats that day is a long way off.
There's an axiomatic truth in politics that you can't win without securing your base. Sadly, the people we all saw on TV today speaking for the empty shell known as the Democratic party are now the "base", and their outlandish actions today were to assure their fellow travelers that they wouldn't abandoned them.
As my colleague Pat Hynes reported today, Joe Trippi told John Fund that today's antics were done under threat from the lefty fringe inhabited by outfits like Democratic Underground, who claimed that unless the votes were challenged donations would dry up. Well, we hope the pennies and nickels from those unemployed granola-eating leeches on society keep the Democratic leadership warm in the wilderness they're leading the party into, because that's about all they're going to have with them.
For the sake of the Democratic party somebody has got to do what Bill Buckley did 50 years ago - which is to stand athwart history and yell STOP!
Or in the alternative simply say "Ah, Juicy Fruit".
But is there any chance of that? From whom? Obama? Hilary? Reid? Give me a break. Dems, here's hoping you enjoy your exile from the mainstream and hope you you time in X-Files Politics is long and lonely.
Saturday, January 01, 2005
This is from yesterday's www.powerline.com (31 Dec 04):
There is a new wrinkle in the Washington gubernatorial election, and it happens to bear directly on the question of how important bloggers are or can be. The Seattle Times reports that Democrat Christine Gregoire was officially certified the winner of the election yesterday. But the Times also reports that a serious problem has arisen in King County, the Democratic bastion that gave Gregoire her margin of "victory":
The latest questions about King County came after the elections office released on Wednesday a list of all registered voters in the county, broken down by those who voted and those who didn't. The Republican Party, among other groups, had requested the information as part of its investigation of voting irregularities.
Conservative blogger Stefan Sharkansky pointed out the discrepancy Wednesday, and by yesterday it was Topic A among Rossi backers and Republican Party officials.
Party Chairman Chris Vance said it could be the "smoking gun" needed to overturn the election.
The number of King County ballots counted in the final tally was 899,199 — 3,539 more than the number of participating voters reported in the county's list.
County officials are trying to reconcile the discrepancy--yes, I'll bet they are!--and an updated voter list will be released late next week.
UPDATE Stefan Sharkansy emailed us [at Powerline] as follows:
Today I did even more extensive analysis based on the precinct vote count that was released by the county late yesterday. Now we can compare ballots counted per precinct with the count of voters who voted in each precinct. There are 600+ precincts with more voters than ballots, a total of about 1,500 ballotless voters. To get to the net discrepancy of about 3,500 more ballots than voters, there must also be about 5,000 voterless ballots...
Noted on my latest post:
Stefan also says: "Some of our comment posters are now calling Sound
Politics the 'Powerline of the Northwest'. I take that as an enormous compliment even if it's a bit of a stretch." Actually, if Stefan's investigations show that Gregoire's victory was fraudulent, his work will dwarf anything that we or, I think, any other blogger has done. Of course, it's much too early to speculate about the ultimate outcome.
FURTHER UPDATE: A Seattle reader writes:
I offer one example of how dorked up King County Elections is - the bluest of the blue counties in the state. I've lived at my current address for the last 4 and a half years. My family purchased this home from the estate of the deceased owner; I assume she passed away about five years ago. This election we received from KC an absentee ballot for the long departed. Not only that, she is still listed on the voter rolls as an "inactive" voter (found that out from Stefan Sharkansky of soundpolitics.com). In other words, I could have voted her ballot if I could have forged her signature, and it would have been counted because she still hasn't been removed form the county's list of eligible voters!!! There are many more examples of the county's incompetence being documented by the Shark, that collectively exceed the margin of victory in the Gov's race. And naturally, the local press has washed their hands of the entire episode. Unbelievable. I am confident that this could happen anywhere in the nation if the election is close enough.
Actually, I'm pretty sure that's right. I think most cities make no serious effort to keep their voter rolls up to date, with the result that many deceased people, and many others who have moved away, "vote" in each election. I'm not sure what it will take to cause the public to get serious about election integrity. The pols won't touch it unless they have to, for fear of being dubbed "racist."