Thursday, August 30, 2007

Not Everything That Comes From Idaho Sucks

So Senator Larry Craig(R - Hedaho) made my life worse, which, as one could imagine, makes me like Idaho that much less, on account of his being a native of that state. So, in an effort to balance the scales a bit, here's an interesting story, in which "Mrs. Idaho", of the "Mrs. America" pageant, saves the life of a rattlesnake-bitten "Mrs. Tennessee". Idaho, you're off my list now. Way to go! It was touch-and-go there for a while, but now I can enjoy potatoes guilt-free.


The Shame Won't Wash Off

I feel so... ugh... I really don't want to talk about it. I actually find myself vehemently agreeing with none other than "Wonkette" blogger-turned Time editor Ana Marie Cox, against her conservative detractors at both NewsBusters and The Corner... and to make matters worse, the statement I agree with was said on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, and to which he apparently gave his tacit agreement as well!

That comment? That, unequivocally, "Mitt Romney is not himself Christian".

So maybe Ms. Cox is not a theologian. Do I need a physicist to tell me that the sky is blue?

It really saddens me that political Christians, who may mean well, are watering down our Faith so much in their attempts to boost the fortunes of Mitt Romney in the 2008 Presidential campaign. We are called, as Christians, to "contend earnestly for the faith". The Apostle Paul himself constantly attempts to set his audience straight on theological matters in all his letters, clearly emphasizing that good theology a close second only to faith in Jesus Christ.

And yet "The Mormon Question" -- that is, are Mormons in spiritual fellowship with orthodox Christians? -- seems only to be an item of debate among two strikingly disparate groups -- liberal, largely apostate mainline theologians, and ostensibly "strong-conservative" Christian Mitt Romney supporters. Notice that Mormons themselves do not fit into either group -- to the best of my knowledge, the LDS Church views itself as "right" and genuine, orthodox Christianity as "wrong" and thus not have "disfellowshipped" themselves. But answering that Question is not my point here, so I will not attempt to do so.

The Left wants us to believe that we cannot dare to question someone's Patriotism, even when certain acts are blatantly aimed at hurting our country. Do Romney's supporters on the right now insist that we cannot dare question someone's Christianity?

No amount of scrubbing will help me feel clean over this sad state of affairs.

Labels: , ,

The Real Fallout of the Larry Craig Scandal

So the GOP loses another guy to a sex-related scandal; big whoop. There is another major fallout from this whole thing that has me truly worried: I am now terrified to use the bathroom at an airport.

Why? Let me assure my readers that it is not out of homophobia (I may not like or approve of the lifestyle, but I'm certainly not afraid of them!). I'm not scared that some creepy old Senator is going to accost me in the bathroom in the quest for gay sex. Rather, I'm terrified that I myself will accidentally give off whatever these mystery "signals" are that apparently let one gay man (or undercover police officer) know that the man next to him is interested in a liaison of dubious nature. From what I can glean from the various reports, such things as "tapping one's foot" (which I do compulsively), positioning one's carry-on luggage "just so" (am I to forever obsess over accidentally putting my luggage in the "wrong" place now???), having a "wide stance" (at the urinal? in the stall? help!), or just "standing still" inappropriately can lead to arrest while in a restroom. And I'm not about to go do a Google search for "how to solicit gay sex in an airport bathroom", even if it IS so I can specifically avoid those behaviors -- I suspect Mrs. Red Shirt already worries enough with my strange fixation on "The Princess Bride" and an almost complete lack of interest in traditional "manly-man" areas such as sports, hunting, and tools, without piling it on with a suspect Google search list!

Stupid gay senator. Way to screw up my life, pal!


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Old Gods

Here is an interesting article at The American Thinker, by Timothy Birdnow, establishing a clear link between ancient paganism and the modern Environmentalism movement. While I think he goes a little too far in marking out the "sins" of the Christian Evangelical environmentalist movement (e.g., just being in the same movement as a pagan idolater does not make one an idolater as well), he does make some very interesting points. What piqued my interest most, however, was his take on the "old gods" of nature and how they are (metaphorically, I presume, as well as literally) resurgent in the false idols of Spiritism, Wicca, new-age Druidism, Secular Humanism, Materialism, Modernism, etc. He also interestingly ties this into the casting out of Legion by Jesus Christ, as though "Legion" either stood for, or quite literally was the collective essence of all these old gods.

Of course, being a big sci-fi/fantasy nerd myself, this immediately grabbed my attention as a very interesting prospect within the modern fantasy genre: what if the "old gods" were indeed real entities, only lying dormant due to lack of belief or the conquering power of Christ, but newly resurgent with the rise of secularism and the "return" to ancient pseudo-religions? The concept of a return of existence of old gods is hardly original; Neil Gaiman's American Gods was an excellent, entertaining yarn about that very concept (with a twist, in which "gods" were simply the "magical" product of collective faith, rather than pre-existent beings); similarly, Raymond Feist's Faerie Tale followed the same tack with respect to the "faerie folk" and its assorted pantheon. But what about attacking the subject matter from a Christian perspective? I think there is considerable potential on which to draw here. Frank Peretti's This Present Darkness and its sequel come close, wherein there is a very real, constant spiritual battle going on invisibly all around us, in which angels and demons quite literally war over our souls, wreaking real-world consequences which only seem natural in interpretation; however, in his books there is a distinct and impenetrable barrier between the spiritual world and the physical world.

There is certainly a Biblical basis for the assumption that the "old gods" did indeed correspond to real beings: 1 Corinthians 10 talks about food sacrificed to idols, and Paul makes this point in verse 20: "No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons." If you believe on faith that demons truly do exist (and I do, because my Bible says so, and gives me no indication that "demon" is always a metaphor for something else), then this verse indicates that, indeed, the false idols worshipped (at least in the first century AD, by the pagan Greeks in Corinth) do indeed have underlying them a demonic influence.

But back to the idea of a story: suppose these ancient spiritual entities were resurgent in their power. If they truly did have power over the earth (and we have every reason to believe this scripturally -- repeatedly the "ruler of this world" is mentioned in a supernatural context, as in John 12:21, as is, for example, in Ephesians 2:2, the "prince of the power of the air"), and this power could be used to the detriment of believers or of virtuous pagans who have never heard the Word of God, then what recourse could/would God take to empower His followers to combat this?

I don't have a fully-formed vision of that scenario, but it's definitely thought-provoking to me.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Real Enemy

So apparently Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) pleaded guilty a couple of months ago to seeking out gay sex in an airport bathroom, even though it is only just now coming to light. His excuses for this are flimsier than Mitt Romney's theology (oh, zing!), and he should resign right now, regardless of the consequences to the GOP. But that's not what I want to talk about. Both Dean Barnett over at Hugh Hewitt's blog and David Freddoso over at the Corner raise the more important question: why do these things seem to "happen" to supposedly conservative politicians with greater frequency than to their Democratic counterparts?

Freddoso raises and then handily dismisses the possibility that liberal pols and their supporters are just "less repressed" and thus not discombobulated by such scandals of a prurient nature. I agree with him there. Barnett raises the spectre of self-loathing and a desire to be caught and "outed", but I don't think that comes close to answering the Why-the-GOP question. And of course there's always the "liberal media gives a free pass to non-GOP offenders" tack. While some of these notions have merit, I don't think they tell the full story.

The real answer, as is quite often the case, lies in looking at it from a spiritual perspective. As a Christian, I firmly believe not only in a Good and Perfect Creator who loves me and wants the best for me, but in an Enemy, whose primary goal, whatever its motivation may be, is to separate me from the Creator, with as much "collateral damage" as possible to those over whom I have influence. (Aside: far from taking the Manichaean point of view, I understand that the war is already over, for I have been irrevocably bought with Christ's blood. Too bad the Enemy isn't in on that little secret.)

So why then do "family values" politicians tend to be the "victims" of the worst, most depraved scandals of all? Is it because they're all secretly amoral hypocrites who are only using their stance to further their lust for power? No, that would be a silly thing to say. Rather, it is because of their stance that they become primary targets of the Enemy. Under the assumption that there is such a tempter, it only follows logically that it would focus its efforts on those through whom the most damage could be done -- namely, advocates of moral living. An old illustration that I've heard several preachers use is as follows: "if you don't cross paths with the Devil every day, you're probably heading in the wrong direction." If you're already focusing on an agenda that is anathema to the Creator's Divine Will, why would the Enemy divert its focus onto you? You're doing its job already!

This is not to say that I believe that all ostensibly socially-conservative politicians are 100% legitimate, honest, and forthright -- many people are already fallen before they rise to power. Many may already be struggling with private sins, and believe they have overcome them prior to their political careers, only to fall again. But in general, who is the juicier target? The advocate of sinful lifestyles, or the opponent of sinful lifestyles? Bring down the former, and no one is likely to be surprised or discouraged (umm, Barney Frank, anyone? Teddy Kennedy?). Bring down the latter, and you can destroy or diminish the faith of thousands.

So public advocates for moral living are the greatest targets of the Enemy. What, then, is to be done? Constant prayer is sometimes the only recourse, I believe. We as civilians cannot do much to hold them personally accountable at all times, but we can bathe them in prayer. When was the last time you prayed for your congressman, or your senators, or your pastor (assuming they are described by "advocates of moral living" -- never guaranteed to be the case)? If what I am saying is correct, and I believe it is, they are in need of more constant prayer than anyone else, for they are the closest to the edge of the Pit.

Labels: ,

Friday, August 24, 2007

Void Where Prohibited

So apparently scientists have discovered a void in space that is considerably larger than any void they would expect (presumably based on statistical models for the distribution of matter throughout the universe?) -- on the scale of "a billion trillion miles" . But is it really a void after all?

A common theme in science fiction is interstellar war. Often, some upstart, newly advanced race will set out to conquer the universe with fearsome weapons of war, rolling over older, more mature races in its path (Kevin Anderson's "Empire of the Sun" series concerns this theme, as does Peter Hamilton's excellent "Night's Dawn" trilogy -- if you consider the souls of deceased human beings possessing the living to be an "upstart race"). Similarly, new races may face ancient perils in the form of leftover "doomsday" technology -- Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space is a prime example of this, as are a handful of old Star Trek episodes. Under the very reasonable assumption that we are not the first in this universe, then, it becomes very reasonable to assume that, throughout the existence of our universe, many races have existed, and have reached a point in their technological development that they are able to interact with other races. And if you'll allow me to anthropomorphize a bit here, I think we may also assume that belligerence could have erupted, on occasion, among those races. If not, at least the expectation of belligerence could be very real.

Back to the void: if it is indeed a statistical anomaly as the article indicates, then it may be a "man"-made phenomenon. This could be the result of one of at least two (presumably very many, though) root causes. First, that some sort of weapon of destruction on a scale unimaginable by human beings had been unleashed at some point in the past, completely annihilating all matter within a certain, very large region. For example, nanotechnology could be exploited to cause this without any remaining trace if the underlying "nano-intelligence" were pre-programmed to be self-terminating after a certain amount of time and operated in such a manner as to remove all matter in an radially increasing fashion from some central point, yielding an area completely devoid of all matter and energy.

Second, though -- perhaps the expectation of belligerence has caused some large civilization simply to hide itself. I don't think it would be particularly daunting for a sufficiently advanced civilization to accomplish this, either: some sort of sustained field or effect surrounding one's entire interstellar civilization with would cause all electromagnetic energy passing through this barrier to return to its source in such a way as to indicate nothing was contained therein. On vastly smaller scales, we already do this ourselves (stealth technology for flying vehicles, echo-repeating technology underwater, etc.). With hyper-advanced automation and access virtually unlimited construction materials, what's to stop a paranoid race from hiding themselves in a similar manner?

I think this has considerable merit, if we look at it from our own humanistic point of view. Our current approach has been one of (very) limited manned, physical exploration combined with lots of remote sensing (think Hubble). Consider then our own reaction, as a species, if this remote sensing discovered irrefutable proof of other intelligent life "out there" -- would not our own insatiable curiously compel us to somehow establish contact with this race by expending great materiel and effort (think the Space Race on steroids)? Suppose, then, that our alien counterparts developed, a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away, in an analogous manner. If we impute to them the same qualities we humans have, along with a healthy dose of paranoia, the end result might be a race determined to proactively hide itself from the prying eyes and ears of fledgling civilizations. And what could be less interesting to our curious sense of exploration than a vast expanse of nothing?

Maybe our statistical models are wrong. Maybe our assumptions of what constitutes "nothing" are also wrong (we can't detect "dark matter", after all, even though scientists believe the bulk of the universe is composed of it, so what's to say that dark matter isn't exactly what we think it is, and this void is actually quite full?). But maybe this void really is anomalous, and anomalies are always worth inspecting a bit closer -- particularly anomalies on the scale of quintillions of miles.



I just discovered today over at Instapundit that Brian May just passed the British equivalent of his PhD dissertation defense in Astrophysics. Who is Brian May, you may ask? Apparently, he was the lead guitarist and backup vocalist for Queen. Crazy. But hey, at least this proves that there is indeed life after Rock & Roll.

...or maybe he just threw a few groupies at his doctoral committee...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Why do women refer to their friends as "girlfriends"? To men, that term has very specific meaning: a man's girlfriend is strictly of a romantic nature. Even now, every time I hear a woman say "One of my girlfriends did blah blah blah...", I immediately, instinctively begin to wonder to myself whether said woman "swings that way". What's wrong with just saying "friend"? I naturally assume that most friends of most women tend to be -- well, women. And if there's any doubt, pronouns will tell me everything I need to know. STOP THE INEFFICIENCY, LADIES!!!

Ron Paul. Ron Paul? Ron Paul!

Godless math-nerd John Derbyshire, over at The Corner, posts an extremely long-winded email from a Ron Paul supporter, on the basis of earlier comments by himself about secretly wanting to support Ron Paul for President. At any rate, after skimming through the rant, it becomes clear: Ron Paul is not an Antecedent. Ron Paul's name is, was, and always will be Ron Paul. Ron Paul is not a Mister or a Doctor or a Last Name or a First Name. Ron Paul is Ron Paul. Cogito; ergo, Ron Paul. Sic semper Ron Paul! I'm beginning to wonder of Ron Paul can serve as not only a predicate nominative, but other, more diverse parts of speech as well. Can Ron Paul be Ron Pauled? Note that it would never be ronpauled, as Ron Paul may only be expressed as Ron Paul. Can I perform a task Ron Paully, in its adverbial sense, and can, indeed, Ron Paul himself be adjectivally Ron Paully? Perhaps Ron Paul can be used as a preposition: I threw the ball Ron Paul the basket. Perhaps not, but the power of Ron Paul is otherwise illimitable. The Ron Paul, I mean.