I don’t know if he put his two latest blog entries back-to-back by design, but, taken together, they send a jarring message.
Thursday’s entry reviews historian Bernard Lewis’ piece in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal. Boiled down it says the militant Muslims, the jihadists identified two great enemies during the Cold War: the Soviets and the West. The Soviets collapsed and that leaves us.
"Professor Lewis explains that the Jihadists truly believe that their efforts
toppled the Soviet Union. Furthermore, he warns that the Jihadists see the West
as a far weaker enemy than the Soviets. Thus, these radicals see the West as
poised for collapse. All that is needed is the unrelenting push of jihad."
Lewis quotes Osama bin Laden:
“. . . dealing with the pampered and degenerate Americans would be easy.”
Pampered and degenerate? Really? Us? The church – going nation that we are – we are the good guys, aren’t we? God bless America and all that, after all!
Well, consider Mohler’s post from today. It argues that, while, yes, we are moral in a sense, the things we moralize about are nonsense. We are, unfortunately, moralizing about driving SUVs, or eating trans fats, or presenting images of, shocking, I know, images of cigarette smoking.
Mohler quotes Andrew Ferguson:
"our pop culture is shot through with moralism: sulfurous condemnations of
homophobia, smoking, guns, junk food, fur, big cars, and--this is the big
one--judgmentalism. (Our culture) simply will not tolerate intolerance."
While we dither about junk food and fur and big cars, the militant Muslims have a very clear and agreed upon set of values by which to decide moral dilemmas. And this matrix of values informs the Muslim that we are degenerate and must be conquered.
But we know better – we are moral! We know what’s important! Those bad, bad, bad jihadists! They came to our country on 9/11 and totally ignored the No Smoking signs!
I'm a Calvinist. I have been for a few years now. I didn't go looking for it, it found me. (What did you expect me to say?) I'm not militant about it - others hold different views - and there's room for that.
One of the things I have found in this system of belief is tremendous comfort and I point you to this article as an example - here's a snippet, parentheses mine:
"It (unconditional election) is good news because it means no
unbeliever is so bad that they can say in response to our gospel pleading, "I
can’t be elect; I am too evil. I have sinned too long and to deeply." God’s
election is not based on how much we do or don’t sin. It is not based on
anything we do or think or feel or choose. Therefore, the proper response to
that kind of despair is to say, "Who do you think you are to exalt your sin to
the level of God? Who do you think you are to wallow in your despair and make
your sinful will the sovereign of the universe, as if you could decide who is
elect and who is not by the quantity of your sinning?" No! You have no right and
no power to declare yourself beyond God’s election. He and he alone decides who
is elect. And he decides NOT on the basis of your sin or your righteousness, but
on the basis of his inscrutable will alone. You may not play God with your sin.
None of it proves you are not elect. Repent, therefore, and call on the name of
the Lord through Jesus Christ who has died for sinners. For he has said,
"Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.’" To the despairing
soul who feels he has sinned himself out of the possibility of election,
unconditional election is good news."
The whole thing.
Frankly, knowing my heart as I do, had I been sovereign over my eternal soul, I'd have reason to despair. Thankfully, God is sovereign.
For the non-golfers, that's a golf links course pictured to the right. So, it's like a pun - golf links and web links.
Just for the record, I'm a non-golfer 99% of the time.
From John Piper and desiringgod.org -
"For thoughtful people, how they pray for the soul is governed by how they believe God acts. So, for example, if they believe God changes people's souls so that they make new and right choices, then they will ask God to make those soul-changes through evangelism and nurture. But not everybody is thoughtful about the way they pray. They don't think about what view of God is behind their praying."
Be inspired in a different way by Marine First Sergeant Brad Kasal's story -
"Despite multiple recommendations for amputation of his leg, his fighting spirit
won out over all. He "grew" his leg back with multiple surgeries and a long and
terribly painful process that uses a technique called the "Ilizarov frame."
Amazingly, he has since passed the Marine Corps physical fitness test which
includes a three-mile run."
Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch adopts a middle of the road stance on Barry Bonds. Not too much to disagree with until the last paragraph -
"Many years from now, maybe all of these numbers and records will make
better sense. Maybe we'll know a lot more than we do now. But I can't hate
Bonds. Because if you hate Bonds, then you must also hate Major League Baseball.
He is the No. 1 symbol of his era."
I don't go in for the hate position, either, but I wouldn't equate hating Bonds with hating Major League Baseball. If they were equal you could turn the sentence around, hating (or loving) MLB means hating (or loving) Bonds. I can't do it. They aren't equal and I think you can feel one way about the man and another about his employer.
Perhaps what Miklasz is driving at is that the men who were given stewardship over MLB have fostered an environment that yields a home run champ whose accomplishments are suspect. And I have no disagreement with that.
"If it is Rudy and Hillary, and now Bloomberg, we could be looking at a three-way
race between three moderately liberal to leftist New Yorkers running for
president in a right-of-center country with no even moderately conservative
candidate. And should Sen. Obama surprisingly get the Democratic nomination,
then we would substitute for the secret leftist publicly centrist Hillary
Milhous, a completely inexperienced African-American possibly former Muslim,
partially Indonesian-raised, Harvard-trained Kennedyesque candidate.
Therein, lies the three-party freak show that is likely to produce the next
president of the United States during this early period of the Age of Islamist
Terror in which we live. And yet, we live in hope that ours is a providentially
Read it all here.
"But since, to say it again, Ahmadinejad is a revolutionary with unlimited aims
and not a statesman with whom we can “do business,” all this negotiating has had
the same result as Munich had with Hitler. That is, it has bought the Iranians
more time in which they have moved closer and closer to developing nuclear
Please read the whole thing.
One of the things Gary will do is go buy paperback copies of the Bible at the dollar store and then begin some study on a certain topic. And for multiple aspects of his study, he chooses one of these Bibles, and marks the verses that apply to the particular facet of the overall study.
Here, from the ESV Blog is another version of the same idea.
Gary is just ahead of his time.
A number of interesting things were said – Junior’s stepmom, who’s running DEI, said they will thrive in the future. Junior is obviously making the move for a chance to win a championship. Everybody said they were disappointed.
OK, questions – what’s going on right now at DEI, Junior, that makes it tough to win? And Teresa, why will you win in the future if you can’t win now with one of the best of the current crop of drivers? Why do you let EARNHARDT leave Dale EARNHARDT Inc.? (It is Inc., right?)
I think, no matter which team Junior winds up with, and no matter who drives for DEI and the stepmom, the real race is off the track. The real race is which one of the two wins first, and which wins more often. This could be better than what happens on the track a lot of weeks.
During our roughly two-year tenure as Florida residents there was a great deal that chapped me about living there, none of it worth mentioning. It was during this time that I conceived the idea of a blog named for the Midwest called 'Central Standard'. As in CST. And one of the special ideas was it would deal with news from the Midwest, and more specifically, the Ozarks.
I haven't done much of that - until now.
According to the Springfield News-Leader the town of Republic has no agenda. This is a refreshing bit of honesty. Would that all our politicians, school administrators and strident activists would similarly 'fess up.
Meanwhile, Indian Point has stuff on the front burner. Looks like their police chief has issues:
Although trustees could not reveal reasons (the chief) wasAnd, according to one resident, he was the best they've had.
fired, (he) provided the News-Leader a copy of his performance review. The
issues included high cell phone bills related to personal use, failure to learn
basic computer skills and 15 other incidents in which he did not satisfy job
requirements outlined in a 2-inch-thick procedures manual.
And shoe manufacturer Puma is confused. I don't think there's really a problem, nobody here thinks Drury is the Pumas. University veep Brian Radecki says,
"The important thing with this arrangement is there won't be any confusion,"Puma officials are not sure if they were just insulted.
Radecki said Tuesday. "We certainly don't want to have people going out to buy
Puma merchandise thinking they were supporting Drury University."
Now, how long will it be before opponents of the war and the administration, in their culture-poisioning game of gotcha, try to eliminate the tools and the tactics that made this possible? How long before they deny this has anything to do with militant Islamic terrorism? How long before we hear that Bush's war caused these impressionable young men to do our soldiers harm?
Apparently James Lileks, one of America's funniest and most entertaining columnists, will no longer be writing entertaining mirth for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. No, he'll be covering city hall or the mayor or the garbage strike or something. Something that most of us who've got, not a journalism degree, but about 8 hours of communications courses could do. A waste of resources.
Apparently a bunch of folks were let go, or bought out. More cuts are on the way and, as Lileks points out, he still has a job. He's very graceful about it.
I wrote yesterday that I couldn't believe it, that there had to be more to the story, but I was wrong. It's hard to imagine misusing talent this way. I understand things are hard for papers these days, but I don't think the answer is to eliminate your most unique and marketable property. It's a competitive media market and to make the decision to be no better than anyone else is not how to win.
A small number of writers do not care for Lileks and some of them expressed themselves in their typical poisionous and bitter way, once again belying the fact that they really don't understand the issue or the outpouring of support for Lileks. Hopefully this will be clear. Nobody believes Lileks is 'owed' a job or that the Trib has committed some sort of violation against him or other bloggers or Mom or apple pie or anything. No, what has us all gobsmacked is what I wrote in the previous 'graph. It's simply stupid to kill your best product if you want to stay around. Hugh Hewitt called it suicidal. It'd be the same as if Ford decided to stop production of the Mustang or if the Yankees decided that Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter shouldn't be in the lineup anymore, but should just file scouting reports on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. (Thanks, Dave Barry)
No, the Trib can do as they please. The poisionous, bitter, crabby ones can do as they please. Lileks can do as he pleases.
And so can other competitive media searching for a great talent to add to their stable.
So, naturally, I thought Dickie was pulling my leg again. I told him so and that I was tired of him doing so. Sadly, as many who followed music in the early 70's can remember, Jim Croce DID die in a plane wreck and we are left to wonder how many more musical tales he had left in him. Too bad.
I just wonder now if James Lileks is pulling my leg. This story is all over the blogosphere. Others are covering it brilliantly, notably, Hugh Hewitt, and I won't try to be some sort of analyst here. I haven't got the chops. But what I do have is the nagging feeling that something just isn't right here. Nobody, I mean, NOBODY can be this ignorant of what's happening all around them, can they? Dave Barry's got, maybe, the best line of the whole episode so far:
"James Lileks, a terrific writer and one of the best newspaper columnists in America, says on his blog today that his newspaper, the Minneapolis-St.Paul Star-Tribune, has decided to kill his column and have him write straight local news stories. This is like the Miami Heat deciding to relieve Dwyane Wade of his basketball-playing obligations so he can keep stats."
It is a perfect description of what has happened, not really exaggerated at all.
And that's what gives me pause - it makes absolutely no sense. It's like insisting the earth is flat, or the moon is made of green cheese, or that Anna Nicole Smith really did merit all that coverage.
So, while Mr. Lileks has never yanked my chain before (that I know of), I just wanted to get it out there that, maybe I'm wrong, but I'm waiting for another shoe to drop.
I'm a fan of 24, though I'm pretty new at it. I jumped in last season, Season 5 I think it's called, about the time the Russian terrorists were blowing up the Russian president, his wife, another president's wife and the 'Hoss'-like Secret Service agent that we all like to call Aaron.
I've been reading a whole lot of griping about this year's story. I have to admit, it's not been as compelling as last year, or Season 1 for that matter, which I rented over the summer. But I've no real complaints - it is what it is. I think maybe some folks have gotten spoiled and are just griping. Some people are just gripers. You can gripe if you want. I like the show.
I think this year the writers are putting Jack through his paces emotionally. It's not so much thigh-shooting and whatnot. It's more psychological. Jack prepared to sacrifice himself, killed Curtis, tortured his brother, learned his dad is a mercenary, rekindled romance with his sister-in-law, was told Audrey was dead, found out she's alive, prepared to sacrifice himself for Audrey, learned Audrey is catatonic, and Audrey's dad (Jack Kennedy) told Jack to leave her alone - "You’re cursed, Jack,” he says, “Everything you touch, one way or another, ends up dead.” Oooh, gut-punch. I can only think of two strings left to pull - his dad and Kim.
And what's Ricky Schroeder doing there? Is this just a "I got to be on 24" moment? Or does 'Mike Doyle' (a strong name . . . like Jack Bauer) have a longer shelf life? I get the feeling Jack's going away - I have no info - I might be wrong. I'm just sayin'. (And yes, I know about the contract Keifer signed - but it wasn't just to act - he's also a producer)
Speaking of catatonic, I watched some of the Cardinals game Tuesday night. They have been through the wringer, no doubt, with the sudden death of one of their players. And, obviously, baseball is not really important in the long run. Twenty-five ballplayers will get on a plane Thursday and fly to Mississippi to bury one of their buddies. It'll be OK if they stink this week.
That said, they just looked lost on the field the other night. Eckstein and Kennedy look awkward - Kennedy doesn't look comfortable at all. Edmonds couldn't bend over for a ball, Pujols doesn't look right and Rolen hasn't lived up to his billing since he came over in '02, except for about half of '04. Pitching is either hurt or inexperienced. I think it's going to be a long year.
Is there a better nickname in sports than "Big Shot Bob"?
And congrats to Saint Louis U on the hire of Rick Majerus. I read far too many comments concerning his health/weight and his decision to leave USC after only a couple of days on the job.
A healthy and interested Majerus will make the Billikens a lot of fun to watch. Here's hoping they get moved to the Missouri Valley Conference - it'd be a good fit. They always give Missouri State fits, though.
I'm out of steam - please come back and see me another time.