Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Follow-up to "canceling Worship On Christmas Sunday"

Some weeks ago I posted on the news that several mega-churches were canceling worship services on Sunday morning because it landed on Christmas! Most of these churches had planned extensive pre-Christmas and Christmas Eve programs and worship services as simply wanted to given their staffs a rest day with their families.

Jolly Blogger covered this story, too, and has now posted two very different responses from Pastors of two churches that received a great deal of criticism for canceling Christmas Sunday worship this year. (One of said that folks like me were being "stirred up" by the "devil.")

Which Chronicles of Narnia character are you most like?

Here's a fun spot to see if you like to "roar" or shoot arrows. It's the "Which Chronicles of Narnia character are you most like?" web site.

For some reason I thought that I would score high as "Mr Beaver" but, as you can see, the child in me won the day! Lucy! I can live with that!

You scored as Lucy Pevensie.

Lucy Pevensie


Susan Pevensie




Mr. Beaver




Peter Pevensie


Edmund Pevensie


Mrs. Beaver


Mr. Tumnus




The White Witch


Which Chronicles of Narnia character are you most like?
created with

NSA "Cookie" Caper

So, the NSA has been downloading persistant cookies into the computers of folks who have dropped by the NSA web-site for a visit. Yawn.....

Privacy advocates think its a big deal but come on, almost every retail company on the internet downloads persistant cookies onto user's computers (Note: Persistant cookies are those designed to remain imbeded even after shutting down and re-booting). Ad-ware and Spy-ware are downloaded so often that software companies make a fortune off of selling programs that can find them and delete them.

Strange to say, but virtually every computer OS has a "remove cookies" program built into it. Personally, I delete all cookies on my computer every evening before I turn it off. NSA cookies disappear with all the rest.

Even so, today's "cookie" story declared that the practice of downloading persistant cookies by the NSA was "illegal."

According to today's AP story,
In a 2003 memo, the White House's Office of Management and Budget prohibits federal agencies from using persistent cookies — those that aren't automatically deleted right away — unless there is a "compelling need."A senior official must sign off on any such use, and an agency that uses them must disclose and detail their use in its privacy policy.

Peter Swire, a Clinton administration official who had drafted an earlier version of the cookie guidelines, said clear notice is a must, and "vague assertions of national security, such as exist in the NSA policy, are not sufficient."

Daniel Brandt, a privacy activist who discovered the NSA cookies, said mistakes happen, "but in any case, it's illegal. The [guideline] doesn't say anything about doing it accidentally."
Now I am not a privacy expert like Daniel Brandt, but for something to be illegal there has to have been a law enacted that makes it so.

A government policy enacted by an Executive Branch agency simply does not have the force of federal law behind it unless the Legislative Branch (Congress) enacts legislation that backs it up.

The "cookie" story does not indicate that any actual laws have been broken. It may be that a policy was violated, however. This could, of course, result in an investigation, a reprimand or termination of employment but not a charge of violating criminal law.

I certainly hope that "mistakes" like this NSA "cookie" caper are the exception rather than the rule. Even so, I am glad that there are policy guidelines that have been established to keep a short leash on what these governmental agencies are doing with what is, perhaps, too much spare time on their hands.

Kathleen Parker and "Lord of the Blogs"

Syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker posted an article today entitled, “Lord of the Blogs.” She has some critical things to say about blogging in general but some polite recognition for the skills and accuracy of others.

Her general thesis is nothing new: Blogging gives uninformed, unskilled and unaccountable journalist-wanna-bes the freedom to write all sorts of useless junk, most of which is stuff criticizing others for their mistakes. She compares this corner of the blogosphere with the anti-nomian descent into barbarism that William Golding so graphically depicted in his book, “Lord of the Flies.”

I must confess that there is some truth to this thesis. Many blogs are tediously imitative of the big blogs, mindlessly aping their proclamations, endorsing their opinions and joining in their battles with little concern for accuracy or self-control.
Bloggers persist no matter their contributions or quality, though most would have little to occupy their time were the mainstream media to disappear tomorrow. Some bloggers do their own reporting, but most rely on mainstream reporters to do the heavy lifting. Some bloggers also offer superb commentary, but most babble, buzz and blurt like caffeinated adolescents competing for the Ritalin generation's inevitable senior superlative: Most Obsessive-Compulsive.
I would say that this is a fairly accurate description of far too many blogs floating around in cyber-space these days. But, when Parker gets specific she reveals that her main concern is to protect the professional hard work and unbiased of those who labor in the mainstream media.
…Many bloggers seek the destruction of others for their own self-aggrandizement. When a mainstream journalist stumbles, they pile on like so many savages, hoisting his or her head on a bloody stick as Golding's children did the fly-covered head of a butchered sow.

…When someone trips, whether Dan Rather or Eason Jordan or Judith Miller, bloggers are the bloodthirsty masses slavering for a public flogging. Incivility is their weapon and humanity their victim.

What Parker fails to note, however, is that, if the mainstream media types would print accurate, unbiased news for the American public to read, digest and debate, there would be no need for the “public flogging” of folks like Rather, Jordan or Miller.

The biased, arrogant abuse of power that each of these has shown was neither corrected nor denounced by the media for whom they worked. It was right and good that their errors and outright lies were caught, exposed and debated in the blogosphere.

Parker also fails to note that those she criticizes, especially on the conservitive right, are largely fighting what is essentially a defensive struggle against the very media that Parker glorifies.

Conservative bloggers attack the media because it is the members of the MSM who, all too often, are the ones who “seek the destruction of others for their own self-aggrandizement.”

The head of President George W. Bush and the heads of members of his Administration and Party are daily hoisted aloft like trophy’s by the New York Times, Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. Bloggers fight back because there is no one else to do so.

Still another point that Parker fails to note is that the blogosphere is the epitome of a free-market economy. Good stuff sells. Bad products do not. Inaccurate and bloviating blogs quickly become marginalized by any serious reader. The “Adults,” as Parker calls them, are like the cream in the milk bottle: They have risen above the rest by virtue of their quality and taste.

She asks her readers to “ignore” the “ego-gratifying rabble who contribute only snark, sass and destruction.” . There is no need for her to say this since bad blogs, whether expressing opinions on the political right or on the political left will be ignored by just about everyone looking for honest and accurate news, information and commentary.

To her credit, Parker does express her respect for the "Adults" who write and post on the internet:

. . . I've been a blog fan since the beginning, and have written favorably about the value added to journalism and public knowledge thanks to the new "citizen journalist" . . .

I mean no disrespect to the many brilliant people out there - professors, lawyers, doctors, philosophers, scientists and other journalists who also happen to blog . . .they know who they are.

Once again, however Parker misses the point as she fails to note that the blogosphere never was, is not and never will be a replacement for the MSM. The business of blogging is something entirely different. For her to criticize bloggers for not following the same journalistic methodology of newspapers, magazines and television is to miss the point of the blogosphere entirely. It is something different. She could just as easily slam the hardback book industry for failing to be as "current" as the morning edition of the Wall Street Journal. Anyone with any knowledge of the book publishing industry would know that such a comparison is silly. Those who blog will no doubt come to the same conclusion after reading Kathleen Parker's article.

In the end, it is ironic that the media Parker defends is fast-sinking into a black hole full of cancelled subscriptions while the leading blogs are not only holding their own in “readership” but are even drawing advertising revenue away from the MSM.

Financial capital always follows where the people are putting their money. Lately, that place is the blogosphere.

Whether Kathleen Parker likes it or not.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Chicago Tribune Concludes: "Bush Didn't Lie About Iraq"

An interesting article in the Chicago Tribune re-examines the nine claims for attacking Iraq that were raised by President Bush and the White House. Their analysis and conclusions will most certainly be welcomed by Republican pundits as well as by the White House itself.

I suppose, however, that we will soon hear charges that the Tribune writers were paid by the RNC......

ht:Instapundit via Steven Antler

Dumbest Vacation Ever--Part 2

Last September I posted on what I considered to have been the dumbest vacation ever. Today comes news of one even dumber.

It seems that Juergen Chrobog, a former German Ambassador to the the United States has been kidnapped, along with his wife and three adult sons, while touring in a remote area of Yemen.

Chrobog and his family were visiting Yemen at the invitation of the former Yemeni Ambassador to Germany.

Chrobog took the trip in spite of the fact that (as reported by the Washington Post),

Two Austrians and two Swiss were abducted in Yemen in the past two months. All were released unharmed a few days later.

The German Foreign Ministry had posted a travel advisory for Yemen, warning visitors that they could be abducted by ransom-seeking tribesmen and noting a general risk of terrorist attacks against Western interests in the country.

Because Chrobog was vain enough to thumb his nose at the warning from his own Foreign Ministry he has now created an international headache for his own country.

This is doubly ironic since Chrobog once negotiated the release of 14 European hostages (9 of whom were German citizens) held y "Islamic radicals" in North Africa just two years ago. It is reported that Chrobog personally carried several $ million in cash to intermediaries as part of the settlement that led to the hostages release.

This generous response to hostage taking has, apparently, given both Germany as a nation and Chrobog as an individual, the reputation of providing a quick way to make an easy million bucks or two.

Recently, German archaeologist Susanne Osthoff, was kidnapped and held hostage by insurgent/terrorists in Iraq. Germany managed to negotiate her release but refused to state what sort of settlement was offered in return.

Curiously, Germany released Mohammad Ali Hammadi, convicted of killing Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem during the 1985 hijacking of a TWA flight to Beirut and sentenced to life without parole, just a few days before Osthoff was also released.

Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters asks,

Coincidence? Not likely....

I am inclined to agree.

I must also agree with the Captain today when he more or less says that Germany has now hoisted itself by its own petard. Having negotiated with terrorists for the release of hostages and having caved in to demands for ransom and for the release of prisoners, should anyone be surprised that German citizens are now prime targets for international kidnapping?

No doubt Chrobog is hoping that someone back home will come up with a few $ million to help bail himself and the rest of his family out of their unfortunate predicament.

In contrast, it is my hope that, when all have been safely released, Chrobog will, out his own pocket, repay the money that was paid to his captors.

I also hope that he will also issue two apologies. One, to the German government for being so stupid as to get himself into this mess in the first place, and, Two, to those German citizens who have now been placed at even higher risk of kidnapping because of his own personal irresponsibility.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Iraq Election Update

You won't read it in the American press because it takes more than a sound-bite and a 3rd-grade education to follow the story line....but the dramatic aftermath of the Iraqi National Election earlier this month continues to unfold.

The best summary to be found anywhere can be found at Iraq the Model. His report is encouraging in the sense that both the winners and losers are working hard to keep the peace as they haggle over the future government like they would over the purchase of a carpet. The Middle East clearly has a cultural dynamic with its own unique style and flair.

Those of us who are not part of that culture should be patient as this seeming brinkmanship moves slowly along to what we all hope will be a peaceful conclusion, satisfactory to all...except, of course, the insurgents.

You can find my previous post on this subject here.

Gerrymandering for Dummies

What is "gerrymandering?" It is the drawing the boundaries of state electoral districts (for U.S. Congress) in an unnatural and artificial way so as to gather together as many residents of a common socio-economic and political bloc as possible (to ensure the election of either a Republican or Democrat as their Representative).

A perfect example is the 12th District in North Carolina (ht: Mary Katherine Ham at Hugh Hewitt).

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve In Hawaii

This evening we will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ with a candlelight worship service. There will be special music, traditional carols and the Christmas story will be read from Scripture. The Welcome, Prayers (including the Lord's Prayer), the lighting of the Christ Candle and the Benediction will all be done in both English and Korean as we share worship together with the Korean congregation that nests in our facilities.

One of the things I do each year is to write a poem and set it to music. This is then included as part of my short sermon message. This year's Christmas music is a quartet that includes one verse sung as a round. I can't share the music but I can share the words.

Since tomorrow is Christmas Day I will not be blogging unless something extraordinary comes along! So, I leave you with a "Merry Christmas, Christ Is Born!" and the following words:

Bethlehem Was Still That Night

Bethlehem was still that night;
Darkness pierced by one bright light.
Mary, birthed a son.
Our salvation had begun.
.....Our salvation had begun.

Jesus in a manger lay
In a stable filled with hay.
Mary, Joseph, too,
Know that Christ was born for you.
.....Know that Christ was born for you.

See him sleeping, hear him cry.
Know that one day he will die.
Buried in a tomb and then
He will rise to life again.
.....He will rise to life again.

He will wash our sins away;
He will turn the night to day.
Jesus, Savior mine.
Child of Mary; Child Divine.
.....Child of Mary; Child Divine.

Words & Music by Jim Tweedie
December, 2005

Accusations of Fraud and Reported Disqualification of Sunni Candidates Creates Election Confusion in Iraq

Many Sunni leaders have been joined by secular Shi'ites and the party of present Prime Minister Allawi in making charges of massive fraud in the recent Iraqi elections.

A coalition group, calling itself Maram, has gathered at least 20,000 demonstrators in Baghdad to express their reservations on the votes legitimacy.

Publius feels these charges have great merit, at Iraqi Bloggers Central Jeffrey believes that the vote looks fairly accurate but Mr. Ghost believes that an intransigent Islamist government is being created. On the other hand, Iraq the Model is encouraged by Shi'ite willingness to discuss an inclusive coalition government to soothe the Sunnis and secularists.

So far, conversations between the various factions have been fairly civil (although the leader of the religious Shi'ite coalition that appears to have won a huge victory says that the "sore losers" may be guilty of "terrorism" if they threaten to disrupt the elected government or demand a new election).

More ominous is a report today saying that the "Anti-Baathist Commission" has declared that as many as 90 Sunni candidates have been disqualified because of previous association with Saddam Hussein's ruling party. One of those reportedly disqualified was the Vice-Chair of the committee that drafted the new Iraqi constitution. If true, this would only serve to further disestablish Sunni voters who may come to the conclusion that they will have nothing to do with the new government.

This, of course, would be a disaster of the highest magnitude.

Somehow, some way, this must all be sorted out peacefully and in a manner satisfactory to all the parties involved. I'm not sure I can see how this will all turn out to be a good thing. Time will tell. In the meantime I am praying for the Iraqi people (including Sunni, Shi'ite, secularists, Christian and Kurd) who deserve good, stable, just and honest leadership in their new government...whoever they may turn out to be.

Judge Alito Memo Not Related to NSA Surveillence Controversy

The old memo written by Judge Alito over 20 years ago and making headlines everywhere has little or nothing to do with the present issue of the Presidents ordering warrantless surveillence of international communications to and from the United States by the NSA. The memo was addressed to a specific issue.

The issue and the memo's irrelevence is clearly laid out by John Hinderocker at Powerline.

Apparently journalists are so intent on uncovering an expose that they do not even take the time to research their story before going to press. What a sham.

Advent Calendar from the Twilight Zone

Every year our church hands out small Advent Calendars to the children and their families. The calendars are inexpensive and now I know why. Last night my daughter #1, home for Christmas from graduate school in Los Angeles, pointed out a few unusual scripture verses slipped into this year's Christmas story .

December 7--"Lord, teach us to count our days." (Psalm 90:12) I suppose that this could be a "Pearl Harbor Day" reminder that our lives can change and even come to an end in an instant. But what does this have to do with Christmas?

December 11--"John wore clothing of camel's hair with a leather belt around his waist." (Matthew 3:4) Note: John was born only a few months before Jesus. Is this description of what he wore 30 years later supposed to remind us that he was "Elijah" who had come to prepare the way for the Messiah? If so, what a strange and cryptic way to say it...especially on a child's Advent Calendar!

December 17--My favorite: "A multitude of camels shall cover you." (Isaiah 60:6) Note: Having seen camels and ridden on camels the last thing in the world I would want to ever happen would be to have a "multitude" of them "covering" me! I suppose that this could be another cryptic reference, perhaps to the Messiah being surrounded by animals as a result of being born in a stable...but, come on...give me a break here!

December 18--"Simeon took him in his arms and praised God." (Luke 2:28) Note: This ocurred after Jesus was born...hardly an Advent verse!

The back of the calendar says that the scripture verses were "compiled by Peter Mead." All I can say is, " are one wild and crazy guy!"

Friday, December 23, 2005

Who's Leaking All the National Security Programs?

Is it just me or is anybody else wondering who leaked the radiation testing project being conducted by the FBI? US News and World Report carried the story so somebody had to let them in on it.

So far we've had CIA airplane transportation systems outed, secret terrorist holding facilities in Eastern Europe revealed, warrant-less international communication monitoring of US residents/citizens by the NSA uncovered on the front page of the NY Times and now the FBI radiation testing program.

This is more than just a leaky ship...this is a conspiracy to destroy the Bush Administration at the cost of American security.

Is it treason?

If this sort of information was given or sold to a foreign country it would be considered to be an act of espionage...but it would still be "secret," at least from other nations and from the public. To publicly release this information for the sole purpose of undermining the effectiveness of our nation's War on Terror is unconscionable.

This is something that an enemy of the United States would do. It is not something that a patriot or loyal American citizen would do.

A lifetime in Leavenworth might be too easy a sentence for these traitors.

Where is the investigation? Who will conduct it? It must stop. It is nothing short of terrorism in our midst.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

New Rembrandt Has Legs

Image hosted by Photobucket.comA new painting by Rembrandt has been discovered and is expected to sell for up to $4 million at an upcoming auction. This photo by AP photographer Kirten Wigglesworth shows off the work of a Master with a twist of whimsy.

Newsweek Compares Bush With Botha and Apartheid Oppression

A Newsweek commentary by Arlene Getz today parallels and compares President Bush's "warrantless wiretapping" with the civil rights and human rights violations of South Africa's President Botha in the final years of apartheid.

"Why," she asks, "have (Americans) reacted so insipidly to yet another post-9/11 erosion of U.S. civil liberties? . . .the nasty echoes of apartheid South Africa should at least give them pause. While Bush uses the rhetoric of 'evildoers' and the 'global war on terror,' Pretoria talked of "total onslaught."

She also parallels South Africa's systematic torturing and murdering of detainees with Bush's emergency eavesdropping policies:

"Botha liked to tell South Africans that the country was under 'total onslaught' from forces both within and without, and that this global assault was his rationale for allowing opponents to be jailed, beaten or killed. Likewise, the Bush administration has adopted the argument that anything is justified in the name of national security."

What a nice word, "likewise." Such an easy way to create moral equivilency between the policies of George W. Bush and the morally bankrupt human rights abuses of one of the most repressive and constitutionally racist nations of 20th century Western Civilization.

What Arlene Getz is talking about bears little or no resemblance to either the legal or actual issues and reality of the President's NSA survellience policies. It is as though she completely omitted the facts of the case in order to create an illusion of something she has conjured up out of her own imagination.

The Getz article is entitled, "Where’s the Outrage?" and carries a subheading that reads, "Bush’s defense of his phone-spying program has disturbing echoes of arguments once used by South Africa’s apartheid regime. Why Americans should examine the parallels."

Ms. Getz has, of course found the same "parallels" that any half-wit could see: Both South Africa and the United States are governed by governments with presidents and, as a matter of national security, operate survellience and intelligence gathering operations both within and outside their national borders.

That's it. That's the parallel we are asked to examine.

Memo to Ms. Getz: There is not a single nation or government in the entire world that does not do this. Just because South Africa abused their security operations does not mean that every other nation is guilty of doing the same nor does it follow that what President Bush is doing is the moral equivilent of "jailing, beating and killing" his political opponants.

Ms. Getz asks, "Where's the outrage?"

The outrage, Ms. Getz, is that you have dared to present your twisted, biased and hateful blather as informed commentary and that the editors of a leading national "news" publication have seen fit to publish it.

That, my dear Ms. Getz, is outrageous.

Pope Benedict Dons Medieval "Santa" Hat for Advent

Image hosted by Photobucket.comPope Benedict looked like he was pretending to be Santa Clause sans beard today as he rode his popemobile through St. Peter's Square. The red velvet hat trimmed in white fur (called a "camauro") is a traditional 12th century piece of Papal wardrobe not seen in public since the days of Pope John XXIII in 1963. By the time Benedict stepped out of the vehicle the hat was gone, replaced by the familiar white skullcap.

The current Pope is known for a dry sense of humor and it is not likely coincidental that he chose to wear this satoral throwback just five days before Christmas.

Someday soon we may well see the Pope reciting the Sanctus as, "Ho- Ho- Ho-ly, Lord God of Hosts....."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Nancy Pelosi Invokes Religious Litmus Test In House Vote


Last night, House Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke in opposition to a bill that would trim $40 billion out of the Federal budget over the next five years. According to news reports Pelosi decared that those who voted for the bill would, in essence, be voting against what the Bible teaches and would be slapping God himself in the face. She then explicitly urged the U.S. House of Representatives to join her in worshipping God on the House floor.

Her actual words are as follows,
As the Bible teaches us, to minister to the needs of God's creation is an act of worship, to ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us . . . Let us vote no on this budget as an act of worship and for America's children.
I doubt that such incendiary words of a partisan religious nature have been uttered on the floor of the U.S. Congress for over 100 years. In passing judgment on the religious integrity of those voting differently than herself, Pelosi has, without any doubt, uttered the single most arrogant, blasphemous, outrageous, impolitic, rude, insulting, inappropriate, insensitive, divisive, offensive and intolerant statement I have ever heard spoken by an elected representative holding such a high political leadership position.

The Democratic Party should demand that she issue an apology and/or resign as the House Minority Leader immeditely.

I shiver to imagine what would become of the U.S. Congress should everyone begin talking like this. The floor of the House of Representatives would begin to sound like a bitterly divided religious convention instead of a body politic.

Is Pelosi now a self-appointed arbiter of whether a fellow Representative's positions are religiously acceptable? If Pat Robertson or James Dobson had uttered these words they would have been excoriated by people like Pelosi even if they had uttered them from inside a church. What hypocracy!

I am so appalled that I honestly do not know how to express my feelings. I do not know whether to rant or rage or weep or simply sit quietly in stunned numbness.

If a Republican Representative had spoken these same words I would feel the same as I do towards Pelosi. There is no excuse, no justification for such a thing.

If you think Pelosi simply spoke off-the-cuff without thinking the matter through and should be excused for a slip of the tongue, consider that she has said much of this before...word for word.
Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Rethinking the Border Wall With Mexico, Call It a "Welcome Wall"

Mexico's President, Vicente Fox, has called American plans to extend the security fence along the Mexican border, "Shameful."

According to BBC, Fox condemned the proposal saying it is too focused on securing the border and does not acknowledge the "enormous contribution" that Mexican workers make to the US economy.

Perhaps Presidente Fox has a point. Maybe the new fence could be reconfigured and redesigned with a more welcoming ambiance.

Perhaps if the United States could celebrate the regular arrival of Mexican immigrants in a more affirming manner. After all, in the past, servants, slaves and hobos were always required to enter a home by way of the back door. By forcing so many Mexicans to enter the United States by way of the "back door" we have been treating them as somehow inferior to the rest of us.

By all means, Mr. Fox, let us recognize the "enormous contribution" that Mexican workers make to the US economy by treating them as equals. Let us, with this new fence, and perhaps even more of it, close off the back door completely! Let us vow to never again degrade, demean and insult our neighbors to the south by forcing them to shuffle, bow and scrape their way into our national house.

I suggest that the new wall be designated the "American/Mexican Welcome Wall." Large signs should be erected facing Mexico at regular intervals along the wall stating (in both English and Spanish),

We are grateful for your contributions to the economy of the United States.

We want to make you feel welcome and appreciated. Accordingly, we invite and ecourage you to enter our house through the front door so that we may receive you with honor.

Please follow the arrows to the nearest open door where we will just run a few checks to affirm that you are, in fact, willing and able to make a positive contribution to our economy.

We will also, of course, check your criminal record and make sure that you are not carrying any illegal drugs, weapons, explosives or nuclear devices.

America is and always has been the 'Land of the free and the home of the brave.' If you are brave enough to enter through the front door we will welcome you, honor you and grant you the freedom of our home.

Viva Mexico! Viva Estados Unidos!

If that won't satisfy Presidente Fox, I have no idea what will!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Bali Bomber Says Mohammed Killed Infidels

According to The Australian, "BALI bombings commander Mukhlas has written a fanatical call-to-arms from his death-row prison cell, exhorting Muslims to kill Westerners."

Some of his comments are revealing as to how some if not many Muslims view their faith and the founder of their faith. Here are two excerpts from the 60-page document:
You who still have a shred of faith in your hearts, have you forgotten that to kill infidels and the enemies of Islam is a deed that has a reward above no other . . .

Aren’t you aware that the model for us all, the Prophet Mohammed and the four rightful caliphs, undertook to murder infidels as one of their primary activities, and that the Prophet waged jihad operations 77 times in the first 10 years as head of the Muslim community in Medina?
Uh...if Mukhlas is correct it would appear that Islam, by imitation of Mohammed and the first Caliphs who followed him, is a faith that demands and rewards violence towards infidels and unbelievers.

Other Muslims insist that they are a religion of peace, tolerance and...well...all those other nice things.

Who is right? This is the question whose answer tauntingly eludes us.

I wonder how many Muslim hymns begin with, "I've got peace like a river in my soul!"


Christmas Caroling In Hawaii

There isn't any snow and we wore shorts but around 25 or our church youth and adults went Christmas Caroling this evening. Each year we do this at an apartment complex down the street from our church. The people there actually look forward to our visit and this year presented us with two boxes of chocolates and three batches of cookies as a reward for our singing.

A good time was had by all. As we sang our last carol the rain came down in buckets. We shouted, "every man (and woman) for themselves, " and ran back to the church soaking wet. The youth then had their own party while the adults went to a home for theirs.

After caroling we have a tradition to phone former church members on the mainland (it is 2 am on the East Coast), wake them up and sing Mele Kalikimaka to them over the phone. That's what friends are for, isn't it?

In any case, here are some photos of what it looks like to go Christmas caroling in Hawaii.

Image hosted by hosted by

Image hosted by hosted by

Image hosted by hosted by

Image hosted by hosted by

New Orleans Asks France To Come Back, Please!

I just came across a very amusing "letter" to France from a homeowner in New Orleans. I found it at Jeliel3 who hat tips other sources going back to I agree with Jeliel on this one, it's funny!

Joan Fox of New Orleans writes:

Dear France,

Greetings from Louisiana! We are shopping for new owners, and we immediately thought of you! Our present rulers haven't been taking very good care of us and we are looking for a better deal. They are spending all our money in a place called Iraq (somewhere in the Middle East). We thought that perhaps you might want to revisit an old land deal you made long ago.

If you've been reading the papers lately, you may have noticed that we have had a few problems with "water". No, we're not offering you a deal on a damaged water park. (Althouugh that's what it looks like from the air) Seriously, we need help, and fast.

Some things you might like here:

1. We named the state after your King Louis
2. We named the city after your city, Orleans
3. We have lots of French names on the streets
4. We still have Napoleonic law (maybe you can explain it to us!)
5. A lot of our citizens speak French (the accent will grow on you)
6. We like French food and wine
What we can offer you:
1. a toehold (rather wet!) on the continent
2. an incredible port
3. Lots of oil and gas
4. Lots of restaurants
5. Jazz
6. Mardi Gras (you won't believe what we do with this!)
7. Some of the most beautifu houses in the world (very, very wet)

What we need from you is simple:

1. Wetland redevelopment
2. New levees
3. Lots of new houses (but we want them to look old like the ones we lost)
4. We need schools and hospitals rebuilt
5. If you insist, we wouldn't mind some more outdoor cafes like you folks are famous for.

Please think this over carefully. Our current owners are so busy in other countries, they might not even notice if you come down here and take a look around. We'll put you up in grand style in a place we call "The French Quarter" (yeah, really!) and you can have lunch at a place we built for your very own Napoleon, which we call (you guessed it!)Napoleons". You'll be right at home.

Oh, just remember, we would like the levees and the wetlands taken care of ASAP, sometime just after lunch if not sooner.

Yours sincerely,
A homeowner in New Olreans
Joan Fox

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Assassination Attempt on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

Image hosted by Photobucket.comNo doubt there are many folks in the world who would like to see the crazy President of Iran breathing something besides oxygen.

During a well-publicized visit to a region of Iran with many persecuted Sunni Muslims today, an attack by "bandits" caused the death of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's driver and one of his body guards.

The story does not say whether Ahmadinejad was in his car at the time of the attack.

Iran weekly advertises “application form” for suicide operations

From IranFocus:

Tehran, Iran, Jul. 23 – The following is the translation of the text of an advertisement that appears regularly in the hard-line weekly Parto Sokhan as part of a recruitment drive for suicide operation volunteers.

English translation below:

Image hosted by

In the Name of God, the Most High

“Martyrdom-seeking operations embody the pinnacle of a nation’s greatness and the apex of its epics”

His Eminence the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Statement for Recruitment of Martyrdom-seeking Forces

In order to achieve all-round readiness against the enemies of Islam and the sacred Islamic Republic and to protect the foundations of Islam, the Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison plans to organise “a martyrdom-seeking division” for each province in the country from the martyrdom-seeking and brave popular forces of that province and give them specific and specialised training. We therefore request all our pious brothers and sisters, who are committed and determined to defend Islam, if willing, to submit two photographs of themselves, a copy of their identity cards, and the filled-in application form below to the following address, so that preparations for their organisation and training could begin:

P.O. BOX 16535-664, Tehran

It should be noted that for the forces of the martyrdom-seeking division from each province, the training and preparations for martyrdom-seeking operations will be implemented in that province.

Membership request application

I, ……………, son/daughter of ………… ID number………… Date of Birth …………
Address: …………………………………………… Telephone: ……………………
Request membership in the Martyrdom-seeking Division in the province of …………..

Signature: ……………
And these folks want to "wipe (Israel) off the face of the earth," are developing ballistic missiles and are close to acquiring nuclear weapons. Not cool.

Honolulu Advertiser Editorial On Bush Is the "Most Ridiculous Item of the Day"

The Editorial in today's Honolulu Advertiser (Saturday, December 17) scores a 10 on the "Ridicul-O-Meter." After putting it into the context of President Bush's speech this morning it could even go off the chart and ring the bell ("give the editor a cigar!")! Here are some highlights:
President Bush hid behind the free elections in Iraq this week when a news report revealed that in 2002, he authorized a "Big Brother"-type spy operation that infringed on the freedoms of hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans here in the United States.
How diabolical of Bush to anticipate yesterday's story in the NY Times and arrange a national election in Iraq to distract us!
As great as the Iraq elections were, it (sic) didn't leave Bush much of a fig leaf. Signing a secret order to allow the government to spy on Americans doesn't cut it in the land of the free.
I can only wonder if the editorial was written by Hans Christian Anderson (ie. fantasy instead of facts.) Not to mention the unmitigated gall in using the Iraqi elections as a metaphor for the covering of someone's genitals. I'm sure the Iraqi people and the US soldiers in the field will appreciate this attempt at journalistic sophistication.
But it was a shortcut that short-circuited (sic) the Constitution.
As in "electrical short-circuit?" or as in a "short-cut" across the center of a race track? I'm sure this means something but I'm not sure what... In any case the sparks are flying at the Honolulu Advertiser Editor's office. It would be helpful if the Editor had cited what part of the US Constitution has been short-circuited and how. But that would mean actually doing some research into facts...and facts only get in the way of opinion, I suppose.
But Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., called the program "Big Brother run amok."
It's always good to quote from an unbiased, authoritative and respected analyst to prove your point. Too bad the Editor couldn't find one.
Now the president must come forward. Misdirecting attention to the free elections in Iraq isn't good enough, nor is hiding behind some vague sense of national security.
That about sums up the Democratic, anti-Bush, anti-war position on national security, doesn't it. "Vague." The rest of America has a clear sense of what "national security" means. It means exactly what President Bush is trying to do... protect us from terrorist attacks by Islamist groups like Al Qaeda.
Bush needs to come clean.
Dear Editor: The President "came clean" this morning (see here).

Now it is the Honolulu Advertiser's turn to wash their hands of the mud they've been throwing and, while they are at it, take the beam out of their eye.

Spy Scandal? Bush Speech Clears the Air and Crushes Critics

President Bush told it like it is this morning. It was a speech that harshly criticized Democrat opposition to the renewal of the Patriot Act and, with brutal honesty, defended the NSA eavesdropping policy revealed by the NY Times and excoriated those who leaked this information to the media.

I'll let his own words (with my highlights) speak for themselves:

In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on our nation, I authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. Before we intercept these communications, the government must have information that establishes a clear link to these terrorist networks.

This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security. Its purpose is to detect and prevent terrorist attacks against the United States, our friends and allies. Yesterday the existence of this secret program was revealed in media reports, after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies, and endangers our country.

As the 9/11 Commission pointed out, it was clear that terrorists inside the United States were communicating with terrorists abroad before the September the 11th attacks, and the commission criticized our nation's inability to uncover links between terrorists here at home and terrorists abroad. Two of the terrorist hijackers who flew a jet into the Pentagon, Nawaf al Hamzi and Khalid al Mihdhar, communicated while they were in the United States to other members of al Qaeda who were overseas. But we didn't know they were here, until it was too late.

The authorization I gave the National Security Agency after September the 11th helped address that problem in a way that is fully consistent with my constitutional responsibilities and authorities. The activities I have authorized make it more likely that killers like these 9/11 hijackers will be identified and located in time. And the activities conducted under this authorization have helped detect and prevent possible terrorist attacks in the United States and abroad.

The activities I authorized are reviewed approximately every 45 days. Each review is based on a fresh intelligence assessment of terrorist threats to the continuity of our government and the threat of catastrophic damage to our homeland. During each assessment, previous activities under the authorization are reviewed. The review includes approval by our nation's top legal officials, including the Attorney General and the Counsel to the President. I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al Qaeda and related groups.

The NSA's activities under this authorization are thoroughly reviewed by the Justice Department and NSA's top legal officials, including NSA's general counsel and inspector general. Leaders in Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this authorization and the activities conducted under it. Intelligence officials involved in this activity also receive extensive training to ensure they perform their duties consistent with the letter and intent of the authorization.

This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power under our laws and Constitution to protect them and their civil liberties. And that is exactly what I will continue to do, so long as I'm the President of the United States.

This speech supports what I wrote about this "scandal" yesterday.

You can watch Bush's speech here.

ht: Powerline & HH

Friday, December 16, 2005

NY Times Dramatically Reveals That President Bush IS DOING HIS JOB!

The NY Times thinks it has come up with another hit piece on President George W. Bush. Spilling the classified, top-secret beans concerning a Presidential order permitting the NSA to eavesdrop on certain, approved international contacts from or to the United States without a court order was intended to show how much our personal rights have eroded under Bush's watch.

The news has sent the anti-Bush crowd scurrying around like choreographed bit players in a Broadway musical, spouting predictable lines such as Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer who declared that,
Today's revelation that the government listened in on thousands of phone conversations without getting a warrant is shocking . . .

Also "shocked" was Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wisconsin, who said,
I can't imagine a more shocking example of an abuse of power.

Personally I am "shocked" that Senator Feingold is not capable of imagining anything more shocking than this.

But this was not the end of Feingold's thoughts because there was so, so much to be shocked about. Here he goes again,
This shocking revelation ought to send a chill down the spine of every American.

Somewhere there just has to be a Democratic Party memo with the phrase, "act as though you are 'shocked' by this revelation by the NY Times."

The memo would be important. Otherwise the Democratic leadership might just slip up and remember that the President long ago informed the appropriate Senators of both parties regarding this matter and received their consent.

Personally, I think that this particular leak of classified information to the NY Times ought to be investigated and the leaker(s) charged with whatever crime is involved with the unauthorized release of such information.

On the other hand, this revelation can only benefit Bush in the long term. No matter what spin the Democrats and the media will try to put on this I believe that most Americans will get the clear message that our President is just doing his job protecting us all from intentional acts of terrorism.

A President who would not seek a way to react swiftly and thoroughly in probing individuals identified from seized terrorist documents has no business being President.

I wish to be the first in the blogosphere to thank the NY Times for making Bush look very competent, decisive, resourceful and.....well....Presidential!

I suspect that, like so many things the liberal wing has tried to use in their attacks on the Bush Administration, this one will create a short-term negative effect that will quickly rebound into even higher satisfaction ratings for Bush.

After all, he promised us that he was going to "hunt them down." Now we know that he has kept his promise. Good on you, President Bush.

Church Preschool Christmas Program

Christmas and children go together like bagels and cream cheese only better! At our church preschool Christmas Program the children stole the show as usual. But I took a special interest in the parents this year and captured some of their enthusiasm for posterity. I guess every child is worthy of a paparazzi or two...especially when its their Mom & Dad! I hope you enjoy these photos.

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Muslim Brotherhood's Gains In Egypt's Parliament Viewed As "Move to the Center?"

Image hosted by

Mehdi Akef...a Centrist?

An AP report tells us the following,
Minimizing election gains by the Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptian Ambassador Nabil Fahmy said Thursday his country was moving toward a centrist and not an Islamist political position.
Mohammed Mehdi Akef, the actual leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brothers, seemed to have a different perspective, however. In an interview with the state-owned English language Ahram Weekly, he said,

“I declared that we will not recognize Israel which is an alien entity in the region. And we expect the demise of this cancer soon."
Yep. That sounds centrist to me!

Note: The banned but tolerated Brotherhood won 20 percent of the seats in the 454-strong (Egyptian) parliament, making it the largest opposition bloc in the house.


Photograph Proves Kerry's Allegation That American Troops Are "Terrorizing" Iraqi Families?

Yes, you heard me. Click here to see the evidence that will reveal the truth of John Kerry's charges against American troops in Iraq (see previous post here).

Warning: The content of this picture may be offensive to some members of the Democratic Party. Discretion is advised.

French Are Surprised To Find Islamic Terrorist Arms Cache Just Outside Paris

Oh, those French. They "Oolala" their Muslim friends and cozy up to Saddam Hussein and take his oil for food money and courageously stand up against American aggression towards the Iraqi people and, with their heads in the sand, say, "Ah...If only America was as wise and noble and principled as we French there would be no problem with Islamic terrorism. After all, we even side with the Palestinians agains Israel! We even let Arafat come here so we could try and save his life!

So, when Muslim youth riot for more than two weeks and burn buildings and destroy nearly 10,000 cars it cannot possibly have anything to do with Islam. Non, non, non! It is socio-economic issues, mon amis. Certainment!

Today, however, French police announced that they have uncovered a large cache of millitary assault rifles, dynamite and TNT hidden in a storage room attached to an apartment building in a Paris suburb.

According to Reuters, the discovery was "part of a probe into an Islamic militant group said to have indirect links to al Qaeda's leader in Iraq (Zarqawi)."

"Thanks to (several) arrests, an arms cache has just been discovered which reveals the seriousness of this matter. They are very determined people, with links between terrorist extremism and major crime," (French Interior Minister) Sarkozy told BFM TV.

"We think they have indirect links, at a fairly high level, with al Qaeda," he said.
But, mon dieu! What are they doing in France? We are their friends! We are on their side...uh...non...n'exactment pas...I mean, we like all Muslims, no matter who they are...and, uh...these folks have really...I mean really embarrassed us by taking advantage of our hospitatlity like this. Most certainly they were planning to use these weapons somewhere...against somebody...perhaps the English...Oui, les Anglais...or the Americans...after what they have done they deserve it (d--m I miss all those oil options)...After all, why would they want to attack moi? I mean, France? C'est pas possible!

We the French have a word for this, of course, because our language c'est tres superior, n'est pas? Oui...and the word is...NUTS!

Juan Cole's Anti-War View Gives Two Thumbs Down On Iraq Vote

As a representative of the left-wing, anti-war branch of the Democratic Party, University of Michigan professor Juan Cole is always good for a quote.

His posting on today's historic Iraqi elections has, as usual, hit gold.

The LA Times probably reflects the thinking of a lot of Americans in hoping that these elections are a milestone on the way to withdrawing US troops from Iraq. I cannot imagine why anyone thinks that. The Iraqi "government" is a failed state. Virtually no order it gives has any likelihood of being implemented. It has no army to speak of and cannot control the country. Its parliamentarians are attacked and sometimes killed with impunity. Its oil pipelines are routinely bombed, depriving it of desperately needed income. It faces a powerful guerrilla movement that is wholly uninterested in the results of elections and just wants to overthrow the new order. Elections are unlikely to change any of this.
Hey, it's possible he'll turn out to be right. In fact, I'm sure he was right about something once...a long time ago...but I can't remember what it was....

In any case, Protein Wisdom has a rundown on what the anti-war blogs are saying about the Iraq elections today....the answer? Not much. Surprise.

CNN Loses Interest In Historic Vote In Iraq (Yawn)

Image hosted by Photobucket.comToday the Iraqis gave birth to a new government and a new future. It will take a few days or a week before the details of the new "baby" are known.

In many ways it could be said that over 2,000 American soldiers died so that this day could come. It is a day made holy, if not to God then at least to democracy, in their blood.

Many billions of American taxpayer dollars have been spent to rebuild the country and make it safe and hopeful for this election. The controversy of America's leadership in the invasion and occupation of Iraq has stirred the headlines day after day for three years. No one can utter even one criticism of the Bush administration's policy in Iraq without it becoming the top news story of the day.

So, what are the headlines on CNN online today? "Iraq Vote a Success?" Nope.

The headline story is, "Freezing Rain Blasts Across Southeast."

Image hosted by

How about the list of "More News" in the upper-right corner? There are 10 supposedly important stories there (including, "Sex con dupes Amish senior, police say") but not one of them refers to Iraq.

There is a two-minute video news clip about the election that you can watch...but the only news story is buried at the bottom of the page under the heading, "World."

There is an old saying that, "Victory has a hundred fathers but defeat is an orphan." The new Iraq has many brave and worthy parents. CNN is not one of them.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Updated & Corrected Info On Death Row Prisoner Cory Maye

Five days ago I posted on Cory Maye and his unbelievable conviction and death sentence for shooting a policeman who crashed in his door at 11 pm at night while he was sleeping in his room with his 18-month old daughter.

Today, The Agitator has put up a corrected summary of the facts in Maye's case.

A key point that was earlier misrepresented is that the police did have a warrant for Maye's apartment....but without his name on it.

The facts still speak for themselves and they speak quite loudly in Maye's favor (at least they do to me!). Click the link and decide for yourself. If you decide that an injustice was done, you can contact Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour to demand a rehearing of the case or the extension of a full pardon.

Governor Barbour's address is:

P.O. Box 139 Jackson, MS 39205
Phone: 601.359.3150 or 1-877-405-0733

Iraqis Are Voting At This Very Moment

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThere are some great photos to prove that the Iraqis are enthusiastic about their vote today. Don't Get Stuck On Stupid has a wonderful collection of photos. Note the smiles. Note the Iraqi military. Note the patriotism and the national flag. Note that the defiant determination of last January's vote has been replaced with unrestrained exhilaration.

The Iraqis and the world have been waiting for three years for a new nation to emerge. Today it is being born before our eyes. Awesome!

Rock, Paper, Saddam

The language is crude but the actual courtroom photos of Saddam's trial give this short, fictional demonstration of arrogance an aura of creepy reality! It may also give you a good laugh. You'll find it all here.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

President of Iran Says Holocaust Is a "Myth"

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today that the murder of millions of Jews under Nazi Germany during the Second World War is a "myth."

In a live television broadcast he stated, "They have invented a myth that Jews were massacred and place this above God, religions and the prophets."

According to BBC,

Mr Ahmadinejad also called for Europe, the US or Canada to create a Jewish state there, instead of the Middle East.

Mr Ahmadinejad's latest declaration reiterates comments he made last week in which he said he did not accept six million Jews were killed by the Nazis, remarks which were widely condemned.

The president also sparked international outrage in October when he said Israel should be "wiped off the map".
This is the same man who boasts about Iran's nuclear "power" program and threatens the United Nations if it decides to enact sanctions against his country.

Israel, of course, has once again condemned Ahmadinejad's remarks as being totally unacceptable and inexcusable.

Why is the rest of the world silent? Must Israel stand alone? Like Pontius Pilate are the Western powers "washing their hands" of the matter and leaving the President of Iran free to incite mob violence and mass hysteria without so much as a "Drop dead" response?

I fear that Israel will be used by the Western Nations as a scape goat, being forced to attack Iran on its own in order to ensure its own self-preservation.

Iran and North Korea continue to be the world's deepest wells for the propogation of world terror.

Sooner or later something will have to be done about Iran's nuclear ambitions.

If this creepy ideologue cannot unify the nations of the world in their attempts to curtail Iran's nuclear enrichment program, nobody and nothing can.

Historically, nation's exhibiting an evil intent against their neighbors invariably discover their leadership descending into irrational madness.

Iran does not appear to be an exception.

Pro-American Iraqi Voter In Detroit Says "Go To Hell"

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe Mainstream Media and Democratic Congressmen keep telling us how the Iraqi people want Americans out of their country and the sooner the better.

Well, one Iraqi voter in Detroit doesn't seem to fit the media's stereotype of your average Iraqi.

While being interviewed by a Detroit TV News station, Betty Dawisha, an Iraqi citizen who had just finished voting, had this to say:
Anybody who doesn’t appreciate what America has done and President Bush, let them go to hell.
If Betty gets her way there are sure going to be a lot of Democrats and Al Qaeda supporters crammed together in a very hot place someday soon.

You can watch the interview on video by visiting The Political Teen.

Monday, December 12, 2005

English Oil Depot Fire Almost Extinguished

The fires resulting from yesterday's massive explosion at an English Oil Depot are almost out. At least this is what the fire department spokesman is saying. Next will come a careful examination of the ruins to see if the cause can be determined. A anti-terrorist team is in place just in case the original and emphatic denial that terrorism was involved proves to have been wrong.

In any case, the explosion and fire created many memorable photographs. Here is one of my favorites:

Image hosted by

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Enormous Oil Refinery Explosion & Fire In England

England's "Sky News," under the headline, "Massive Explosions At Fuel Depot," states the following:
A huge fire continues to burn at the country's fifth largest oil storage depot near Hemel Hempstead where a series of explosions injured 43 people early this morning. A fire chief has described it as the largest peacetime incident of its type in Europe(emphasis mine).
Police authorities almost immediately assured the public that the explosion was not caused by terrorists or an airplane. One can only wonder how they have ruled out terrorism when they also admit that they do not yet know the actual cause of the expolsion and subsequent blaze.

Apparently, just a week ago, some Islamist terrorist group urged British Muslims to strike against the country. Among the targets singled out for special attention were.....yep, you guessed it....oil refineries.

If you are looking for video, click on the link at the top of this post and you will find plenty of it there.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Christian Dialogue With Muslims:The Trinity, Forgiveness & Jesus Christ

An article on Michael Jackson I posted two weeks ago at blogcritics continues to generate dialogue (it is still on the "Hot Topics" list). The comments have, over time, morphed into a dialogue between an Orthodox American Jew living in Israel, several very "evangelical" Muslims (who are determined to convert me to Islam), and myself.

Recent conversations have spurred me to post several responses that I thought I'd share with my readers. What follows are the opening sentences of six postings. If you want to read all of a post, just click on the link and you will arrive at the rest of it.

Thoughts On God's Forgiveness #1

I wrote the article that started this thread. I am a Christian Pastor in Hawaii. I have Muslim friends. I am part of the Hawaii Multi-Faith Leadership Forum that includes the President of the Hawaii Muslim Association/Mosque President and am friends with the Muslim School Headmaster who I have twice invited to share what Musllims believe with my adult Sunday School class (he as also proofed the Islam portion of my World Religions material and affirmed it as accurate). I correspond on matters related to Islam with a Muslim Professor at a Major American University. I have read the Qur'an twice(yes, I spell it Qur'an...sorry Noanchor...just like I spell Aqaba and Qatar properly) in two English translations and refer to it in study often. I do not believe that I have the integrity to speak about another person's faith unless I personally know it as well or better than most believers.

Having said that, I must express my personal belief that the God of Islam is distant, impersonal and unreachable.

The God revealed to us in the Old Testament and more clearly in the Injil is near to us by his Holy Spirit, personal in his desire to love and be loved and reachable through the incarnation, death, resurrection and ascention of his eternal Son, Jesus Christ . . .

To read the rest, click here.

Salvation Is a Gift from God Received Through Faith In Jesus

Kashan, In my Christian faith my eternal salvation has been "purchased" for me by Jesus Christ. I receive this "gift" by faith and repentence of my sin. This salvation is assured as a "covenant promise" from God.

In Islam, I must earn that salvation through my own righteousness. That is impossible since God requires that we "be holy" as God is holy. Jesus himself states that we must "be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect."

Jesus once asked his disciples why they did not leave him. They replied, "You have the words of eternal life."

This is why I follow Jesus as Lord and Savior. This is why Islam, with all its requirments and uncertain hope, will never lure me away.

Shalom. Salaam. Aloha. Peace.

This is the entire comment so, no link.

Thoughts On God's Forgiveness #2

Kashan says "it is not true" that Jesus took our sins because we must bear our own burdens.

In the Christian faith this is not true. And it is not because of Paul. Jesus himself says, "Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Here Jesus clearly tells us that when we are yoked with him he will bear the burden that we are not able to carry ourselves. This burden is, of course, sin . . .

To read the rest click here.

Thoughts On the Doctrine of the Trinity

(On a more serious note, it seems that the concept of the Trinity is the major stumbling block between Christians, Jews and Muslims.)

Here is a thought about the concept of the Trinity. First of all we must dismiss the argument that the idea of the Trinity is absurd or illogical.

Pretend I am holding a dime in my hand. There is just one dime. Yet it also has a "heads" and a "tails" as well. One dime yet two surfaces. How can one dime be two different things? This would easily fit in with the Torah and Prophets who teach that God is present with us by the Holy Spirit. Clearly God cannot be present with us in his fulness lest be be destroyed, yet, by his Spirit, that which is truly God can indeed be "with us." . . .

To read the rest click here.

Thoughts On God's Forgiveness #3

The Muslim and Christian view of God/Allah is, in fact, very similar. The names of God as recited in your faith (a traditional list with commentary can be found here) are all acceptable to Jews and Christians as descriptive of God's nature.

Yes, of course God is a merciful and a forgiving God. But God is also a holy God; pure and spotless and perfect in righteousness. None of us come close to this. We all fall short of the glory of God. This is what Christians call sin...falling short of the holiness that we were created to enjoy.

Besides the nature and person of Jesus Christ, one of the biggest differences between Muslims and Christians is how we believe God deals with our sin . . .

To read the rest click here.

Thoughts On God's Forgiveness #4

Kasham asks, So, if I am forgiven by Jesus of all my sin then I can do anything I want and it won't matter, I'll still enter Paradise.

Some of the first Christians also were confused on this very matter and actually claimed whay you say to be true. They were severely chastized and rebuked for this. In Romans 6:1-6 we read,

"1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? . . .

To read the rest click here.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Mainland China Troops Shoot Down 20 Unarmed Demonstrators

Here is an excellent NY Times article (plus an update AP release taken from CNN)describing a horrible slaughter of poor Chinese fishermen farmers in a village in Southern China.

Is this simply an unfortunate error in judgment or a strategic display of authority to curb future demonstrations?

Is the demonstration itself a rarity or something becoming more and more common in recent months? Does it represent a growing dissatisfaction in China with the current government regime? Does it constitute a legitimate threat to the stability of the country?

Was Missile Fired at AA Flight 612 Over LA Last Month?

Check out this story now making the internet rounds.

A missile or rocket may have been fired at American Airlines Flight 612 as it gained altitude after take off from Los Angeles International Airport late last month.

ABC Radio twice aired a news story on the subject. After that the story disappeared.

Is their a government cover-up? Are American passenger jets in danger from shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles?

This story is scary.

Whether it is scary like a Stephen King novel or scary because it is true we do not, as of today, know for sure. Follow the link and decide for yourself.

Be sure to check out the internal link to the LAX airport monitor. Really creepy.
As for the internal link to the air traffic controller recording with AA 612, the relevent bit is literally the last thing on the recording.

Sentenced To Death for Self-Defense

Everyone's talking about Stanley "Tookie" Williams these days.

Will California Governor Arnold Schwartzeneger commute his death sentence for having murdered four people in cold blood during his gang days (which was pretty much all that he did before being convicted and sent to prison)?

The news media and Hollywood stars are having a field day with this story.

Meanwhile, down in Mississippi, a man sits on Death Row, convicted of a crime he almost certainly did not commit.

Cory Maye was asleep in the middle of the night in his duplex apartment, alone with his young daughter, when his front door was suddenly kicked in by men wearing black. Fearing for his life, and the life of his daughter, he grabbed a gun he kept near his bed (the house was not in a genteel neighborhood) and shot the first man in the door as he approached.

Unfortunately for Cory, the men were police officers participating in a drug raid on the other apartment in the duplex. It is not clear whether the police identified themselves or not as they entered. Most likely they did not since they had already identified themselves as they had entered the neighbor's apartment moments earlier. The men entering Cory's apartment had thought they were entering the same first apartment through a side door.

But they were wrong; and the officer shot by Cory died as the bullet entered his lower abdomen just beneath his bullet-proof vest.

Even more unfortunate for Cory, the slain officer was the son of the Police Chief. Both were white. Cory was black.

Cory was eventually charged and found guilty of the willful murder of a police officer and sentenced to death. Previous to the night his home was unlawfully invaded Cory had never in his entire life been arrested or charged with a crime.

Evidence points to a incompetent and biased jury, an inept public defender and a charlatan hired by the family to file appeals briefs (which were not filed in a timely fashion). And, of course, a charge of murder that should never have been brought in the first place.

You can read more detalils about Cory Maye's tragedy here and here and here and here. (Note the last two links are news articles that do not even mention that Maye's apartment was not the one identified in the search warrent. In fact they infer that Maye was the prime suspect in the drug raid.)

You can also feel free to contact Haley Barbour, the Governor of Mississippi, and politely request that he consider doing the right thing and pardon Cory.....before he gets a lethal injection for the crime of defending himself and his family.

Governor Barbour's address and phone # are:
P.O. Box 139 Jackson, MS 39205
Phone: 601.359.3150 or 1-877-405-0733
PS: Silent Runnings has posted an "open letter" to Governor Barbour. I'm sure you will be permitted to copy it and send it as your own if you are either not creative enough or have enough time to write your own.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Willow Creek Church Will Close Doors On Christmas Sunday

Image hosted by Photobucket.comAt Willow Creek Community Church outside Chicago, Sunday morning generally features eight worship services at four locations with 15,000 people attending.

On Christmas Sunday this year, their doors will be closed.

As quoted in USA Today:

Cally Parkinson, a spokeswoman for Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., said church leaders decided that organizing services on a Christmas Sunday would not be the most effective use of staff and volunteer resources. The last time Christmas fell on a Sunday was 1994, and only a small number of people showed up to pray, she said.

"If our target and our mission is to reach the unchurched, basically the people who don't go to church, how likely is it that they'll be going to church on Christmas morning?" she said.

According to Willow Creek the only reason to worship God on Sunday is to reach the unchurched? I thought that Christians worshipped God on Sunday in order to......uh.....worship God!?

Sure Christmas is a busy day....for families in particular. There are stockings to poke through. Bicycles to assemble. Presents to unwrap. Food to cook. Guests to accommodate. Trips to make. When Christmas falls on a Sunday, like it does this year, how can people be expected to squeeze in a morning worship service in the middle of all that?

Christmas, after all, is about families, isn't it? Or is it about God....and Jesus....the Incarnation...the Word become flesh....the advent of the Son of God....Immanuel....the Prince of Peace.

On that first Christmas,

-Angels took the time to form a choir, and;

-Shepherds took time off in order to find the baby Jesus and worship him.

It seems to me that the Christmas story provides a clear guide to what should be a Christian's priority on a Christmas Sunday morning.

After all, the only present really worth celebrating on Christmas Day is the gift of Jesus himself.

Come to think of it, Easter morning is a busy time for families, too. All those egg hunts and Easter baskets and family gatherings and travel plans and cooking big Easter meals.

Perhaps Willow Creek should close down on Easter, too. It's a real bother that Easter has to land on a Sunday every year.

Note: It's almost enough to make this parody seem like the real thing!

ht:Captain's Quarters

Pearl Harbor Day In Hawaii--64-Years Later

Image hosted by Photobucket.comToday is December 7th. At 7:55 am my house was rocked with the roar of low-flying military jets. A tight formation of F-16s curled over Mililani on their way to a fly-over of Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial.

It was at 7:55 am on this date in 1941 that the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor began.

Each year Hawaii remembers with a ceremony traditionally attended by representatives of the nation of Japan. Wreaths are laid and flower leis tossed into the water from the Arizona Memorial, that stands astride the remains of the battleship that carried 1,177 sailors to their watery grave on that "infamous" Sunday morning.

Living survivors of that day still gather to remember. Their numbers growing smaller each year. Those who live in Hawaii volunteer at the Memorial every day, greeting visitors and telling the stories of the death and heroism of their friends and comrades. Soon, they will be gone and only their stories will remain.
This year, special honor was given to the USS Ward, a that happened to be on patrol off the entrance to Pearl Harbor that morning. At around 5:45 am someone on the ship spotted what appeared to be the superstructure of a miniature submarine, heading in the direction of the harbor entrance.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comIronically, the USS Ward was hit by a Japanese kamakazie plane on December 7, 1943, exactly three years after the attack on Pearl Harbor

The command was given to fire. The ship fired twice. Because of good aim or good luck, the sub was hit and sank to the bottom, taking its two Japanese crew members with it.

Historically, this is considered to be the first formal engagement between the United States and Japan in WW hour before the attack on Pearl Harbor began.

The remains of the miniature submarine were discovered not too long ago, in 1200 feet of water not too far from where the USS Ward's log said it would be. Its exact location has not been revealed to protect it from scavengers. It is now protected by law.

Those who have visited the USS Arizona Memorial over the years know how emotional that experience can be. I, personally, have visited it five or six times, once for an evening retirement ceremony for a naval officer who is a member of my congregation.

The ship, although under water for these past 64 years, has never been de-commissioned. As such, the USS Arizona is treated as any other active-duty ship in the American naval fleet. Visitors must receive "permission" before being piped "on board" the Memorial.....which is considered to be a part of the ship. Naval personnel offer the appropriate salutes to the ship and to her crew.

If you know where to look a visitor can find bullet holes and shrapnel damage on numerous structures standing at Hickam Air Force Base, Pearl Harbor, Wheeler Army Airfield and Schofield Barracks. It is a sobering thing to walk up a flight of steel stairs in what was once a Hickam barracks and literally step on a hole punched through the 1/4-inch steel by a 20-mm shell on that long-ago day when the United States was attacked by Japan.

There are many beautiful and wonderful natural and historic sites in Hawaii. But for me, and for many others, there are none that impress more than the National Cemetary of the Pacific (Punchbowl) and the USS Arizona Memorial.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comBack in 1942 a song called, "Remember Pearl Harbor," became a national hit. I am glad that we still remember. On the one hand, it was a day of defeat and humiliation. On the other hand, it was the day a nation that would soon become the most powerful country in the history of the world "woke up" and roared.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Do Muslim Extremists Control 80% of American Mosques?

Personally, I think this figure is way too large. I'd guess more like 40%. But Yehudit Barsky, an expert on terrorism at the American Jewish Committee, seems to believe that the 80% figure is (unfortunately) very accurate.

You can read about why he feels this way and also learn why he feels this way by checking out this summary story at Little Green Footballs.

P.S. I hope he's wrong. But I don't think I'll lay down any bets on it.

John Dean Says Iraq War Cannot Be Won

In an interview yesterday on WOAI San Antonio, John Dean, the Chairman of the Democratic Party, said that,

(the) idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong.
Dean went even further, comparing Iraq with Vietnam:
I've seen this before in my life. This is the same situation we had in Vietnam. Everybody then kept saying, 'just another year, just stay the course, we'll have a victory.' Well, we didn't have a victory, and this policy cost the lives of an additional 25,000 troops because we were too stubborn to recognize what was happening.
He then added,

President Bush got rid of Saddam Hussein and that was a great thing, but that could have been done in a very different way. But now that we're there we need to figure out how to leave. 80% of Iraqis want us to leave, and it's their country.
My summary:

1. We are not winning in Iraq and will never win;
2. Therefore, the sooner we cut our losses and leave the better;
3. It was good to get rid of Saddam, but a military invasion was not necessary;
4. The sooner we leave the happier the Iraqi people will be.

My response:

1. What does "winning in Iraq" look like? Does Dean have a definition of this? If not, how can we know if winning is possible or not? Does he offer a definition? No. Has the Bush administration offered a definition of "winning in Iraq?" Yes. Is it acheivable? The administration says, "Yes." Does Dean disagree or disagree with the Bush administration's definition and prediction? We don't know. He won't comment on it. Does Dean offer any context to indicate what in the world he is talking about? No.

2. Let's see....Korea was an "unwinnable war." Actually, no one won and no one lost. It sort of was put on hold as a tie. If the United States had "redeployed" our troops two years earlier we could have saved many American and Korean lives. As a bonus, we would have had a unified Korea, too! Just like Iraq was unified before we invaded it! Think how many American lives could have been saved if we had not invaded Okinawa during WW II. We had pushed Japan back on every front....back beyond where they had been before WW II even started. We could have just called it quits right then, called it a victory (which it was) and just gone home. By doing this we could have avoided that atomic bomb mess, too. Dean's logic is unassailable!

3. Yep! Sanctions and inspections were working. Surely Saddam would have grown weary of them eventually and quit or retired or surrendered sooner or later, right? Or, perhaps Dean envisions a well-aimed missile from an unmanned Predator drone.....That would have shaken things up in Iraq! Maybe Uday and Qusay would have stepped up to take their Dad's place and chosen the United States and the rest of the free world as their ally! Hey, anything's possible! And the sad thing is we'll never know because we never tried.

4. Oops. One small detail overlooked here. The Iraqi government, made up of elected leaders from every race, sect and district in the country.....the only folks with any legitimacy to speak on behalf of the country.....want us to stay a while longer. When I was in the hospital years ago I desparately wanted to be somewhere else and wished that the nursing staff would leave me alone! If I had been asked some polling questions on the subject I would have said so. But, on the other hand, I probably would have died. What we want and what we need are not necessarily the same thing. A national leader who does not know the difference between wanting and needing something should not be a national leader.

My Conclusion:

1. As Party Chairman, John Dean represents and speaks on behalf of all Democrats.
2. John Dean is nuts and so is everything he says.
3. Therefore: ____________________ (you get to fill in the blank)