Saturday, March 24, 2007

Jeb Bush Snubbed by University of Florida

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Gee, it seems that almost everybody is getting honorary doctor's degrees these days. Usually all it takes is to donate $1 million or deliver a commencement address.

At the University of Florida, however, faculty are getting either more stingy or more selective as to who they are willing to give this so-called honor.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, nominated to receive such a degree by the University "Honorary Degrees, Distinguished Alumnus Awards and Memorials Committee," was blackballed on a vote of 38-28 by the full faculty senate.

The University's President is reportedly "dismayed" by the vote but I'm sure that Jeb won't mind. If the collective total of earned degrees carried by the members of the University of Florida's faculty senate don't add up to any more common sense that this then how much value can there be in an "honorary" degree?

In any case, if you have not yet decided whether or not to send your child to the University of Florida next Fall, this might help tip the balance towards a school that holds a higher "degree" of respect for tolerance and diversity.

ht:wdvh980 for the original photo (which they cribbed from elsewhere)

U.S. Military Prepares for Funding Cuts from Democratic Congress

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No one doubts that the military will get the money it needs to do its work in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the political farce being played out around this important subject by the Democratic majority in the U.S. Congress has raised some eyebrows.

As we should expect, the U.S. Military is busy making contigency plans just in case something goes wrong with the minds of our elected representives in Washington DC.

Click on the photo above to see several more creative ideas as to how to defend the world on $5 a day.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Video of Jesus: An Awesome Merger of Art, Media, Theology & Faith

Check out this video hosted by Woodside Bible Church in Troy, Michigan. It's called "Splat." After you watch it you will understand why it has that name . . . but you will also feel that a more elegant name might also be in order!

Warning: This video is a witness to the saving Lordship of Jesus Christ. It may touch your heart!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Genetically Altered Rice Creates Problems and Raises Metaphysical Questions

An interesting story appeared in this morning’s newspaper concerning the current dire straits of the U.S. rice industry.

It appears that some genetic re-engineering of certain strains of rice have cross-pollinated or somehow gotten mixed in with other commercial strains of natural hybrid rice. This renders the crop unacceptable to most of Europe which is very skeptical of the health implications of such rice.

As usual everybody is blaming the Department of Agriculture for the mess. I say that it is just another manifestation of Murphy’s Law!

This does, however, raise an interesting question about genetics and evolution.

Natural selection expects rice (and every other genetically-based life form . . . which is every life form) to create the occasional genetic mutation. According to the theory, most of these naturally-occurring mutations will be either useless or detrimental to the survival of the new strain of rice. Some, however, will prove helpful and, over time, create a new and improved variety.

I find it somewhat amusing to discover that even when humans try their hardest to improve rice through genetic manipulation the results are viewed with suspicion and distrust and fear for the entire ecosystem . . . including ourselves.

But when, I ask, has there ever occurred a natural case of some new strain of rice appearing that was suddenly harmful to humans or the environment?

I should think that the odds of random, natural genetic shifts in rice would have long ago created a rice that is toxic and poisonous to humans and other living things. Certainly the odds would have far suggested this scenario than that the plant would have evolved with a structure so friendly and nutritious and benign!

If good intentions in genetic manipulation have apparently created worrisome rice, then random, amoral natural selection ought to have created an entire planet filled with plants hostile to the best interests of humanity! After all, an inedible plant would have a higher chance of survival, n’est pas?

Could it be that only a perfect genetic designer could have created such a perfect, healthy, nutritious and satisfying plant such as rice?

That conclusion may not be very scientific but it seems to have at least as much common-sense about it as the theory currently on the books.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

New Episcopal Bishop of Hawaii Ordained In Honolulu

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Newly Ordained Bishop of Hawaii Bob Fitzpatrick
I was honored to receive an invitation to attend the ordination of Robert Fitzpatrick as the 11th Episcopal Bishop of the Hawaiian Islands and the 6th Bishop of Hawaii. I have enjoyed collegial relations with outgoing Bishop Richard Chang for the past several years and looked forward to today's service at St. Andrews Cathedral less than a block from the State Capitol Building in downtown Honolulu.

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General overview of the Cathedral
There was the usual Episcopal finery and straight-from-the-Book-of-Common-Prayer liturgy. As always the music was superb and uplifting (especially a magnificent setting for the Veni Creator Spiritus by cathedral Music Director Arlan Sunnarborg set for Hawaiian Chant, Hula [Kahiko] Latin and English and double choir).

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Emeritus Bishops Chang & Browning
Bishop Chang's predecessor, The right Reverend Edmond L. Browning, who also served as the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church offered the sermon and the Chief Consecrator for the service was The Most Reverent Katharine Jefferts Schori, the current (and first woman) Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church (USA).

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Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
There is lots of national and international conflict these days over the ordination of an openly and sexually-active gay Episcopal Bishop several years ago. Until the denomination affirms a position that bans such ordinations in the future it is in effective limbo/probation as regards its formal ties to the world Anglican Communion.

Today's focus, however, was on the passing of spiritual, pastoral and apostolic authority to the next Bishop of Hawaii. It was done with just the right touch of Anglican-formal, Hawaiian-informal style and grace.

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Words of Consecration from Bishop Jefferts Schori
As Bishop Emeritus Browning pointed out, every new Bishop inherits a crisis or controversy not of their own making . . . and their has never been a time when a new Bishop took office without some measure of conflict at work in the church. Such is the nature of a church that is "in the world" yet "not of the world" (as Jesus put it). There will always be tension and friction between the here and now and the not-yet.

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Presentation of Bishop Fitzpatrick to the Congregation
In any case, God was worshiped and glorified today in Honolulu and this is, in and of itself, no small thing.

The following pictures capture some of the occasion:

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Program Cover

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The Beautiful Stained Glass

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Hula dancers from Iolani (private Episcopal school)
perform after the service

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Bishop Fitzpatrick ( & wife, Bea) enjoy traditional Chinese Lion Dance

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And yes, there was cake along with lots of aloha!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Bird of Paradise Quoted at Powerline

I have been too busy living life in "real time" to have done much blogging lately. I have, however, managed to enter a few comments in various threads in various places. Paul Mirengoff at Powerline apparently felt one of my comments worthy of quoting at length today in a post entitled, "Has the Wren Chapel cross been 'saved'".

The issue concerns William & Mary's university chapel and current school President Gene Nichol who, by personal fiat, had the chapel cross removed because it apparently caused him (and others unnamed) offense. After 17,000 alumni signed an internet petition against the removal and the loss of a $12 million donation that was withdrawn it has now been decided to return the cross to the chapel (but not in the front) and put it behind glass.

Unbelievable but true.

In any case, I am taking being quoted by one of the Powerline guys as a compliment.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Bill Maher & Anne Coulter--A Marriage Not Made In Heaven!

Imagine a new TV talk show featuring Hosts Anne Coulter (representing the right-wing nut-jobs) and Bill Maher (representing the left-wing nut-jobs). Each of them thinks that they are witty, funny and "with-it." The are both self-styled entertainers who like to exaggerate and say shocking things just to keep up their image of self-importance in the vacuous world of media punditry.

After the past two days it seems that they might well deserve each other.

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Click on picture to enlarge

I suggest that ABC, NBC and CBS bid on this new venture. It can't possibly cost them as much lost revenue as bidding for the Olympic Games coverage and it would certainly give them something to report on their evening news broadcasts.

You know the old saying, "If you don't like the news you get, make up the news you want."

As for Maher and Coulter, shame on them both!

McCain/Lieberman Presidential Ticket Announced--They'll Run As Independents

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While walking my dog, Daisy, this morning, I entertained an unusual fantasy. I considered for a moment the political free-fall of John McCain in his quest for the Republican nomination for the office of President. I considered the political marginalization of Joe Liebermann, a Democrat who ran for the office of Vice President alongside Al Gore in 2000 and who, in 2006, was forced to run as an “Independent” to retain his Senate seat after being tossed aside by members of his own party in favor of someone else.

Neither man meets my criteria for a perfect candidate to the Presidency or Vice Presidency of the United States. Yet I admire them both and believe that they have much to offer us as a nation currently more divided than we ought to be . . . at least among our representative leaders in national government.

As I pondered this matter I wondered what would happen if these two men joined together in running together as Independents for the office of President (John McCain) and Vice President (Joe Lieberman) of the United States.

Would I endorse such a candidacy? No, I don’t think I would.

Would I consider such a candidacy to be a good thing for the United States and the upcoming Presidential campaign? Yes . . . most certainly, Yes!

To my mind it would force the major candidates towards the middle ground. If done well it could raise the level of conversation to a higher level of respect and substance than we have seen in many years.

Could a McCain/Lieberman ticket win? Once again my answer is, No, I don’t think it would even come close. But I believe that they could draw far more votes away from both parties than Ross Perot did in 1992. And certainly more than Nader in 2000.

I’d still like to see it happen! What about you?

What follows is my fantasy as to what their public announcement to run together might look like. In my fantasy the paragraphs would be spoken responsively between the two men.

I invite you to read what I have written and consider whether you can imagine these two men sharing these words together before a national audience.

McCain/Lieberman Announce Presidential Campaign
Location: South steps of the U. S. Capitol Building

We are two United States Senators, John McCain, a Republican, and Joe Lieberman, a Democrat, who are divided by our party affiliation but united in our love for the United States of America.

We believe that the best interests of America have for too long been sacrificed to the agendas of those who represent the far-right and the far-left of our nation’s politics.

We believe that the flames of this national division, between progressives and conservatives have been fanned and fueled by those whose personal agendas benefit from keeping Americans as divided and as angry as each other as possible.

We believe that this way of doing politics is not in our best interests either as a nation or as individual citizens with a common stake in our common future.

While the two of us differ on many issues we find that we are agreed on those issues that are most important to us all.

Together we affirm the need for our nation to be safe and secure.

Together we affirm the need for our nation to be economically strong.

Together we affirm the need for our federal government to be fiscally responsible.

Together we affirm the need for our nation to be more selfless in its response to the needs of our weakest and most vulnerable citizens.

Together we affirm the need for our nation to rediscover and to reaffirm that we are indeed, “One people, under God, indivisible.” That the high ideals of "freedom and justice for all" transcend any one political party and that it vital that we find common ground and unshakable unity in our support and affirmation of these central truths that lie behind the goodness of our national character.

Together we will try to bridge the vast political chasm that has opened up, effectively separating us as individuals and as elected representatives serving in Washington on your behalf.

Together we pledge to speak openly and honestly and respectfully with each other concerning the issues that confront us all.

Together we pledge to affirm and articulate our common ground on these matters as well as to publicly share our debate on those issues on which we differ.

Together we pledge to work with other members of the United States Congress in discovering ways that we can begin to speak with one another across political and party lines.

Together we hope to bring our national leaders together in common cause to find solutions to our pressing needs for national security, fiscal responsibility, economic stability and the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable among us.

Together we hope to re-instill a common faith in our national virtues of goodness, self-sacrifice, respect and tolerance.

Together we believe that we can find a better way to move forward into the future as a great nation and leader among the nations of the world.

Together we believe that we can best do this when we are together and united in the things that matter the most rather than being so divided that we are no longer willing to even talk with each other.

(Lieberman) As a Democrat I have often stood with many Republicans in my support of a strong national defense and in a firm and determined stand in support of our troops and their mission in Iraq, Afghanistan and in many other places throughout the world.

(McCain) As a Republican I have often reached across the aisle to find common ground with Democrats as we have tried to discern common cause on campaign finance reform and to create a less hostile environment for the legislative process of government to take place.

Together, with the wisdom of hindsight, we admit that we have at times erred in both our personal and private lives.

But, together, we affirm to you that our efforts have always been motivated by a desire to serve all the people of the United States and not just those of one social or political special interest group.

Together we profess to be men who value honor and character.

Together we promise to stand before you, the people of the United States, as friends . . . of each other . . . and as friends of yours.

Together we will seek out a “middle way” that will bring us closer together as a nation rather than drive us farther apart.

We believe that we can achieve all this and more as a nation. But only if we work and stand together.

Our national motto, E Pluribus Unum affirms that, “Out of many” we are "One."

Or, as Abraham Lincoln once put it, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

So, today as we announce our candidacy for the offices of President and Vice-President of the United States, we stand together. And we invite you, each of you and all of you, to stand together alongisde us in the coming campaign.

God Bless America!