Wednesday, December 31, 2008

'Disproportionate' Response II

What is 'Disproportionate' is the News Coverage

"Undoubtedly, a powerful impression has been created by large Western newspaper headlines that describe massive Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, without any up-front explanation for their cause." -- Dore Gold

If you watched the evening news last night, you got the distinct impression that big bad Israel is using bear mace on a mosquito again while it goes after pesky old Hamas. Those of us who know of the Seven Year Siege of Sderot can only wish for 'fair and balanced.' This is a nasty war and about 4000 missles have been fired at Israeli population centers from Gaza. Somehow the major news outlets don't find that newsworthy.

Read This Piece by Dore Gold before you cast any judgement in this situation. Like most situations in the Middle-East you need to do your homework before you can even hope to understand.

Dr. Dore Gold was Israel's ambassador
to the United Nations from 1997 to 1999.
He is the Author of 'Hatred's Kingdom'
which describes Saudi Arabia's ties to
global terrorism.


Here's a Reality Check from Joel Rosenberg

A really good graphic map of the Gaza missle threat is included in Joel Rosenberg's report.

Breaking Point -- The Real Story of Israel's Gaza Operation

Here is a Site where the people of Sderot tell their story. You can send them a word of encouragement. I did.

Sderot Children
Sderot children have fifteen seconds to reach this pipe when the missles start coming in. Photo courtesy of

In Sderot, they protect their children by providing these concrete 'caterpillars' in the playground. When the siren sounds the children know they have fifteen seconds to take cover.

Sadly Hamas Has Used Children as Human Shields to deter attacks on missle assembly plants. Any clear thinking Middle-East policy should demand that children's lives be respected.

"Hamas's brazen use of human shields is directly facilitated by the international community's reluctance to address the issue and denounce the premeditated endangerment of ordinary people. According to all rules of warfare, including the Geneva Convention, this is nothing short of a war crime. When the crimes of Gaza's terrorists against their own people are consistently overlooked around the world, it can only encourage the Islamists' immorality."--The Jerusalem Post

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

'Disproportionate' Response

When meeting that enemy, be proportionate

Many years ago the Western cities of Virginia had good reason to fear an attack from West Virginia. The American Civil War had some ugly chapters where seige warfare became 'modernized' and that should be interpreted as shelling the cities [as was done along the Mississippi] into submission. No reasonable historian would fault the defenders of Vicksburg, Memphis, or the brave men who built Fort Johnson on the Western border of Augusta County to protect the towns of the Valley of Virginia.

If we could but remember the threat of close destruction, we would not fault the defenders of Sderot either. In fact, we would likely agree with Jonathan Mark's Observation that Israel's Response is Disproportionate. Put yourself in their shoes and you will see the problem in a different light.

A child's drawing from Sderot shows
the horror of war.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

'Reason' for the Season

The Christmas Story is Worth Serious Investigation


The original list below came from an article by Chuck Norris and I've added a few more of my own. What's noteable is that some of these apologists for the Christian faith began as skeptics seeking to discredit it. Their honest investigation led them to the conclusion they had never sought to reach -- that the birth of Christ is solidly rooted in History and that Christianity itself has had a profound effect on the lives of men and women through the ages.

History has a remarkable way of connecting its own dots, so to speak. Remember the Wise Men? They came from the East. Wasn't the prophet Daniel carried off to Persia during the captivity? Didn't he become one of the wise men of Darius? Daniel predicted the return to Jerusalem and also pointed to the coming Messiah. It is quite likely that the wise men [or Magi, if you prefer] were familiar with Daniel's prophecies. I don't think I'd undertake such a long journey as these men did on a whim.

So here is Chuck's list [with some additions]. If you are brave enough to underrtake this journey, you may find that real Treasure awaits you:

N.T. Wright's "Who Was Jesus?"

F.F. Bruce's "The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?"

Lee Strobel's "The Case for Christ"

Lee Strobel's Website:

Ravi Zacharias' "Jesus Among Other Gods."

Josh McDowell's "Evidence that Demands a Verdict"

C. S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity."

"And, of course, the Bible."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

A Season Worth Celebrating

Dickens Village
This little ceramic village celebrates the time of Charles Dickens.

Most of us remember the little story 'A Christmas Carol' by Charles Dickens. What we forget is that it was written in a time of great social upheaval during the Industrial Revolution. Then, as now, the spectre of want and fear cast shadows on the human condition. Dickens wrote his little story in part to address such things.

Here is a Radio Drama Presentation of A Christmas Carol by Focus on the Family. The presentation begins with some really good historical background.

The Treasure of Our Heritage

Our Ancestors Faced Amazing Difficulties with Amazing Courage

It may seem strange to tell a Civil War story at Christmas, but I suppose the greatest gift we have been given by our parents is the wealth of our ancestors' life experiences. Such reservoirs will refresh us as we face many a difficult day. It was Christmas of 1776 when George Washington took his men across the Delaware. In many people's minds the revolution was all but lost. Washington's army was ragged and undersupplied. The odds were against any hope of succeeding. Still these men crossed the river, won the battle and the tide turned. The rest is, well, history.

Most of us have some amazing stories that come from our own ancestors. They are, I am convinced, signposts for our own journey. We need to tell them, especially at holidays.

My Great Grandfather Tolbert Saunders Dalton was born in Robertson County, Tennessee, close to Nashville. He was seventeen When the War between the States started. He joined the 49th Regiment of Tennessee Volunteers and had a long and distinguished career as a soldier. He saw many battles, some of them quite fierce, and the sight and sound of men dying around him led him to preach the Gospel. By the light of many a campfire, my Great Grandfather shared the simple message of redemption in Christ.

He served under General Nathan B. Forrest and saw action in some of the battles for control of the Mississippi. When Union troops advanced on Memphis, preparing to attack at dawn the next day, General Forrest was outnumbered ten to one. He did not have the artillery to protect the city, but he did have at his disposal a fair number of farm wagons and many willing workers like young Dalton. All night long, the boys hollowed out the ends of tree trunks and blacked them to look like cannon. Then each ‘cannon’ was positioned on a set of wagon wheels. The faux cannon were positioned for maximum effect along the banks of the river and then General Forrest demanded surrender! In a dangerous bluff Forrest’s 300 men captured 3,000 would-be attackers.

Tolbert Dalton was later assigned to spy duty. He once carried a message to General Forrest through enemy lines by pretending to be a deaf and dumb farm boy. Seeing an unexpected checkpoint, he quickly stuffed the message in his mouth and made signs to the soldiers. He was quick-minded enough to sign for clarification when one of the soldiers said “go ahead.”

Wounded in action, Dalton spent several months out of action and then joined the Seventh Kentucky Volunteers. In one battle the flag was shot down and young Tolbert rose to replant it in the breastworks. When it was shot down again, Dalton rallied the troops by standing to hold the flag in place. Enemy fire ripped his shirt but miraculously he was unscathed. His courage under fire earned him the rank of Major. The experience affirmed G-d’s calling in the young soldier’s heart.When the war was over, Dalton went to Medical School and became a doctor but the needs of mens’ souls called him to the work that had begun around the campfires of his regiment. Preaching became Dalton’s sole vocation and he eventually settled in the town of Stanley in Page County, Virginia. One of my most treasured possessions is a copy of Wilmore’s New Analytical Reference Bible that my Grandfather once used.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Time to Bury 'Fossle Fuel?'

It's Time for a Hydrogen 'Model T'

It was a hundred years ago when Henry Ford introduced his Model T automobile. Ford did not invent the automobile but he made it universally available. His manufacturing method was what put cars on the streets of Middle America. Now it is time for a similar revolution. This Piece on Hydrogen Cars shows hydrogen technology to be in a prototype stage similar to that of the automobile before 1908.

Remember your history and old movies. Cars were a novelty [for rich people]and scared the horses. Then Ford built the assembly line and the American transportation system of today was born. Ford also created a market for his cars by paying his workers a wage that allowed them to become car buyers.

If indeed there is a viable hydrogen car that can be built for the cost of a suburban house, then all that remains is for it to be refined and mass produced. As the large automobile manufacturers come to the American people for another operating loan, its time to ask them to create a revolution.

An energy independent United States has to be a national security priority. This is true from both a defense and economic perspective. We can't wait ten years to implement this technology.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Solstice Sunset

Solstice Sunset
The Sun sets on the Winter Solstice marking the beginning of Winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Short Film Captures the Personal Implications of Imagio Dei


Here is a Film that you must see! It is just fifteen minutes in length but I saw it at Randy Alcorn's Blog and it was pretty powerful. Recently an editor at one of our local weeklies editorialized that Abortion is Not Murder because kids from 'religious' homes are having them and abortion foes are not resisting as they would if someone were gunning down a busload of elementary school children. His argument fails to see that throughout history other great evils have been accepted by even good people in a society.

Just because a course of action is popularly accepted and most follow it does not make it less of an evil. Many Christians owned slaves and I'm sure there were fine principled people serving in the German government. Can we legitimately argue that the holocaust was not murder because church members were working in the camps? Volition does a great job of showing how the right choice has often been the road less travelled in historical perspective.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Forgotten Family

Our Brothers and Sisters Forgotten by Our Media

"Unremarked upon by the Western media, a systematic campaign of persecution is taking place in the Gaza Strip, and to a lesser extent in the West Bank. the general silence surrounding this campaign aids its perpetrators. The victims are Palestinian Christians, in particular the small Christian community of Gaza." -- The Jerusalem Post

The prevailing perscription for peace in the Middle East seems to be that the Palestinians will be good citizens of the world once we just give them a homeland of their own. Unfortunately they show their hand too visibly in their treatment of their own Christian minority. This Article at Voice of the Martyrs shows how badly Christians are treated in Palestinian controlled areas.

Our Next President should demand no less than the fair and humane treatment of these Palestinian Christians as a precondition for negotiations. We need to make it clear that we consider them family.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Science's Lesson

What Do We Really Learn from Observing the Cosmos?

"In its purest form, the human spirit of inquiry is a holy thing. According to the renowned 12th century Jewish thinker Maimonides, nothing less than the Biblical commandment to love G-d is fulfilled when a person investigates nature and, struck by its intricacy and beauty, is filled with awe and gratitude to the Divine."

Saturn's Rings
The rings of Saturn.

Photographs of galaxies and microscopic worlds have always fascinated me. There is sublime order in the extreme places of our investigation. Here is an Article About a Supercollider by Rabbi Avi Shafran in Jewish World Review. He calls the project an $8 Billion, Modern Day Tower of Babel."

If you remember the Bible story, the Tower of Babel represents mankind trying to assert their independence from the Divine. It ended in a confusion of tongues. You'd think we would learn. I remember when John Lennon proclaimed the Beatles "Bigger than Jesus" -- right before the group dissolved! A similar attitude seems to have gripped some scientists hoping to find a "G-d Particle" and thus reducing the cosmos to naturally explainable.

When the Cosmic Background Explorer read the background spectrum of the universe, scientists were looking for the bang in the "Big Bang." The clear spectrum they found was not exactly what they expected. It doesn't exactly negate the possibility of a moment of Creation. In fact, those who seek to do so may find G-d very difficult to dethrone.

"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:" -- Romans 1:20

Friday, December 12, 2008

Faith Triumphs Over Persecution

Christianity's Greatest Growth Has Often Been in the Face of Opposition

This Article in New American underscores many of Alvin Schmidt's observations. It goes on to show that much of its great influence came into being as the decadent Roman Empire attempted to snuff it out.

"It is of course true that an observer today looking at lands where Christianity is persecuted could conclude that the persecutions are diminishing if not destroying Christianity because of the small numbers of Christians in many of those lands. But history teaches us otherwise. As already mentioned, an observer of the persecution of Christians under the Roman Empire during the third century A.D. would likely have concluded that Christianity would have been stamped out. Yet a few years later a Roman emperor converted to Christianity. Throughout 20 centuries, the faith of Christians has proven to be unconquerable, and there is no telling the extent to which today's Islamic lands might someday be fully open to the spreading of Christianity."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Resisting the Influence

Christianity's Persecution in So Many Places Tells You Something

Alvin Schmidt's book Under the Influence lays out historic evidence that Christianity changes individual hearts first but then has the power to remake whole portions of society. Rome considered Christians dangerous to their status quo and fought the early Church hoping to diminish its influence; But it grew.

Today the Church is growing with amazing vigor in areas where it is supressed. Voice of the Martyrs is telling the stories of great faith in the face of persecution. These stories will make you consider how precious real hope and changed lives really are.

The heroes of Faith today are people like Coptic Priest, Zakaria Botros, who uses the internet and a 90 minute television show to reach millions in Muslim countries with a message of hope. Millions are listening and many are responding. There are constant threats on the life of this gentle man and many more, less visible representatives of the Christian faith. Randy Alcorn tells the story of such people in his novel Safely Home. Using fictional characters, the novel tells the all-too real story of the church in China. Real men and women are risking everything to live as disciples of their Lord.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Under the Influence

How Christianity Changed the World

Originally published as:
Under the Influence,
Alvin J. Schmidt
Zondervan, 2001

Here is a book that really ought to be on your Christmas reading list. As we prepare to celebrate the wonder of Emmanuel -- "G-d With Us," it would be interesting to consider the historical influence of the Christian faith in out civilization. Obviously many modern writers consider it not all that great, or even destructive. They point to such events as the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition and conclude that religion is not such a great influence on society. An atheist group in England is buying bus ads that say "why believe in G-d, Just be good for goodness' sake." Just in time for Christmas, no less, and using red and green lettering.

But such thinking ignores a vast body of history where men and women, inspired by their faith, abolished slavery, instituted humane treatment of the poor and mentally ill and generally lifted the situation of their fellow citizens. What good is "good for goodness sake" if good is not defined from a higher source. Indeed one can then make the conclusion that it is 'good' to kill six million members of another race. It happened in Twentieth Century Germany. Hitler may have appealed to Christianity in his speeches, but his actions go against the clearly understood teachings of the Faith. Study the life and death of Deitrich Bonhoffer and you will understand where the principles of his beliefs led one citizen to actively oppose the policies of Hitler.

It is a mistake to assume that Western Civilization is automatically 'Christian.' Schmidt looks back to the days of the Roman Empire, when Christians were the ones who rescued unwanted children from destruction and the Middle Ages, when Christians cared for the victims of plague that most simply shunned. Time and time again, Christianity is seen leading men and women to challenge the default direction of Western civilization.

We will read Dicken's 'A Christmas Carol' this season, but will we stop to think of how Charles Dickens was addressing social issues of his day. And what of William Wilberforce, the British parliamentarian who, moved by his faith, labored half a century to abolish slavery in the British possessions? When Dorethea Dix and Florence Nightengale improved healthcare methods, it was their faith that moved them.

Schmidt provides a great body of scholarly research to bring this forgotten history to light again. One point I take from his writing is that Christianity is at its best when it speaks into culture. It has been rendered less effective by its present 'mainstream' status [as when it is seen as a branch of the Republican Party]. It is all too easy to hijack the language of faith without embracing its life-changing path of discipleship.

Theodore Dalrymple writes in City Journal: "What the New Atheists are Missing." Himself a non-believer, he points to a time when a teacher's hypocrasy led him to question. Dalrymple does not, however, reject the realm of faith as a force in creating and ordering societies. He see's naturalistic explainations and philosophies quite insufficient for dealing with all of human existence. Richard Dawkins' assertions that religious education is tantamount to child abuse, for example seem to Dalrymple no more than the rebellious ranting of a child who's just learned that his parents are not perfect. All of us have experienced some sort of disillusionment in our youth. I remember a time when a nun of the 'Sisters of Mercy' punished me for some infraction I had not [at least in my recollection] committed. I too questioned a lot of things. The Cuban missle crisis fueled more unanswered anxiety as I careened into adolescence.

But something happened in my teenaged years that is etched firmly in my memory. It was a dark and stressful winter day when I decided to walk in the woods near Triadelphia Reservoir. Something spoke to me that afternoon that was more eloquent than the ranting of hormones and the perceived unfairness of life. The buds of the trees were growing fat. here was the hope of spring and new life. Clearly spring would come. The buds gave evidence of an event hoped for. They were indeed the substance of something yet unseen!

"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:" -- Romans1:20 KJV

Holy writ makes the point that the order and beauty of the creation speaks eloquently of the creator. Thus Intelligent Design, though it merely points out the complex mechanisms of nature, leads one to seek the source of such wisdom. I look to that time in the trees as an affirmation of personal faith in a creator. Though at that point it was pretty detatched and intellectual at best.

"...for he that cometh to G-d must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligenly seek him." Hebrews 11:6b KJV

As a young adult I embraced faith in Christ as redeemer and rewarder. The journey of faith had begun with the fat buds years before though.Therefore I must conlude that those who consider the design of the universe dangerous information have good reason if they fear that others may follow the path I have walked. Dawkins would prefer me to credit space aliens with seeding life to this planet and thus push the hard questions of origin to another world. Darwinism, in its purest form, rejects the idea that this world is some sort of intentional creation. Of course this leads to the rejection of theism and ultimately the rejection of certain absolutes. The film 'Expelled' takes a good look at 'eugenics' and how it is supported by a darwinian world view. In the first half of the Twentieth Century certain proponents of eugenics sought to speed evolution along by eliminating the reproduction of certain undesirable types of persons. The results were forced sterilization of the mentally ill and the holecaust. Contrast that movement with Dorethea Dix and others who, motivated by Christian faith, improved conditions for the mentally ill.

Alvin Schmidt makes a good case in his book 'Under the Influence' that faith is a builder of society rather than a force to destroy it. Dalrymple the non-believer would concur. Thus the danger of Christian principles such as 'intelligent design' leading to dangerous conclusions is much inflated. One might even conclude that the free discussion of order and design,wherever it is found, is wholesome. Certainly there is no basis for its exclusion from the academy.The argument will no doubt be made: "what about the crusades, what about jihad, religion is dangerous?" Yes, it is certainly something that may be missused, but that must be countered with an honest look at how the so-called "good" science of evolution was the foundation of eugenics. Millions of people were killed in this misguided attempt to improve humanity. Ironically, such brilliant men as Albert Einstein met the criteria for elimination. We reduce the world to only naturalistic explainations at our own peril. The argument for open inquiry, with men and women of Faith seated at the table, stands.

New Maple

"When through the woods,and forest glades I wander,
and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
when I look down,from lofty mountain grandeur,
and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze"
-- "How Great Thou Art" Verse 2

Friday, December 5, 2008

Watching History Repeat Itself

Some Frightening Observations

Jeff Jacoby Makes this Observation of the UN Denouncement of a Certain Country. No, it is not Darfur or some other country with major human rights abuses.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Civilization Under Fire II

Some Quotes from the Founding Fathers

Washington Praying
Washington Praying at Valley Forge

The Famiy Foundation Blog has pointed out some wonderful Quotes from America's Founding Fathers and Leaders that I'll just bet you won't find in the National Capitol Visitor's Center. Clearly Faith was not to be excluded from the public square, but their intent was that there be no state church.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Civilization Under Fire

Mumbai's Brutal Wake Up Call

This Piece by Melanie Phillips is a Brutally Honest Assessment of the war [yes, I said war] being waged against Western civilization right now. Guy Sorman Has this Report in City Journal. Steven Emerson Has This to Say.

Mark Steyn Offers this Analysis of the so-called 'analysis' being offered by the talking heads. Hopefully we will get the message sooner than later that appeasement doesn't work with this crowd. If 9/11 wasn't our generation's Pearl Harbor, Mumbai ought to be.

We are engaged in conflict with this enemy in the Middle East, our troops are securing the situation in Iraq. Still, the so-called 'Mainstream' Media who were so eager to report our casualties when it was going badly have No Desire to Report Our Success.

'We Have Met the Enemy and They are Us'

Pogo Possum's famous quote describes precisely the reaction of our news media and intellectuals. We can't say 'Islamic Terrorists' anymore but we are free to disparage Western civilization all we desire. Michael Medved's Ten Lies are standard fare on CNN and any college campus. Even Kathleen Parker is Buying Into this Myth. The Capitol Visitor's Center opened yesterday and the small reference it makes to the faith in our country's foundation is only thanks to a few clear voices who spoke up against such outright untruths as this: Our Nation's National Motto is 'E Pluribus Unum' according to the Center. It is actually 'In G-d We Trust,' but the curators needed to be reminded of that fact by concerned citizens before they would correct their display.

Alvin Schmidt's book Under the Influence paints a much different picture of Western Civilization. Much of what makes us able to abolish slavery and extend compassion is a direct result of faith in action in our public life. We need to remember our roots as we enter this battle.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ten Big Lies About America

Michael Medved Tells the Truth

Here is a Straightforward Discussion of America's roots by Michael Medved. In a new book the popular author and commentator debunks many of the modern myths that seem so prevelant in our 'politically correct' era.

Among the great lies, the notion that the founders of this Nation envisioned a totally secular country. In fact, early writings of the founders are overflowing with reference to the Almighty and His Providence in the formation of this government. The wisdom of the founders was in avoiding the intermingling of church government with the government of the state. That is where the separation was actually defined. There would be no 'Church of the United States' as there was a 'Church of England.' Interestingly enough, the government did not prohibit the individual states from acknowledging specific churches. The 'free exercise clause' of the First Amendment clearly protects minority religious groups from supression.

A tour of Washington DC quickly reveals a wealth of Biblical references in carved inscriptions on public buildings. The writings and speeches of earlier times are also rich with such wisdom. If America was meant to be free of the influences of faith, you wouldn't know it from studying its beginnings.

Laus Deo
'Laus Deo' is inscribed on the capstone of the Washington Monument.

The National Capitol Visitors Center is scheduled to open tomorrow. This Report from Family Foundation Blog is worth noting. The center's original exibit design ignores the inspiration of faith so evident if you simply walk through the Capitol unguided. This would seem to be an accepted official policy when you consider this: A recently created replica of the Washington Monument Capstone for the National Park Service simply omitted the inscription: 'Laus Deo' that is prominent on the original. Simple accuracy would require otherwise.

Here's a Story by Michelle Malkin about more modern-day censorship. The reader is wise to connect the dots. Why is certain factual reporting supressed?