Sunday, March 27, 2005

Resurrection Sunday

Now I make known to you, brothers, the gospel which I preached to you, which you also received, in which you also stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of the first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as it were to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection from the dead? But if there is no resurrection from the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we witnessed against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.

--- 1 Corinthians 15:1-22

But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

---1 Corinthians 15:54-57

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Status Report

Mrs. Schiavo isn't dead.

Yet, that is.

This isn't Mr. Schiavo's fault, though. He who was heard, years ago, by at least one witness to inquire gently, "Isn't that bitch dead yet?" is sparing no effort to make up the deficiency.

God help us all.

Friday, March 18, 2005

A Question For You Older Americans

One of the problems with the shortness of the human life span is that we tend to be isolated in a relatively brief span of time.

I'm an American. Thus, the history of my country is short, compared to England's, or France's. It is, however, much longer than the few tens of years during which I've been basically aware of my political and cultural surroundings. I can read histories, but they tend to be organized around extraordinary events and the themes that historians find significant. I'm left to wonder: were we always so childish?

What I mean is: we insist on an inordinate amount of entertainment. We display very little willingness to delay the gratification of our desires for pleasures and material comforts. We demand "news" of such vital matters as athletes and entertainers -- particularly the ones who are caught up in spectacularly-scandalous degradation, such as the (maybe) pederast Michael Jackson or the (perhaps) gallery of pharmacologically-enhanced baseball players. We all know what "March madness" means. We finance our huge and poly-teated government by borrowing astronomical sums from foreign moneylenders, in large part to pay for the bombs, missiles, and bullets with which we shower other foreigners. We elect walking, breathing caricatures such as Jesse Ventura, Arnold Schwartzenegger, and G. W. Bush to be our "leaders." (Do free people desire to be "led?") We spend ever-greater sums of debased money on "education," ever more reliably making illiterate, innumerate, politically-indoctrinated consumers of our children.

Were we always this way? And, if not, what changed?

My conjectures: no, and television was invented. But, of course, I could be mistaken about both.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Elephant Triumphant

So, the GOP is riding high. It's invincible. Republicans control both houses of Congress, as well as the White House. Seven of nine existing Supremes (Stop! In the name of love!) were nominated by Republican presidents -- six of those by Reagan or Bush the Elder. It's the sort of dominance that was last exhibited by the Democrats back in the 1960s. How'd it happen?

I think we've seen a substantial role reversal -- the political-philosophical equivalent of a "gender reassignment procedure" for the Republicans. Think back to the Democrats in the 1960s. Guns and butter. Cold War anticommunism abroad, pork at home, everybody happy. Kennedy: pay any price, bear any burden ... sounds like Bush the Younger on the Crusade for Worldwide Democracy, doesn't it? Dubya's $700B prescription-drugs-for-seniors giveaway, and his no-child-left-behind federalization of education ... don't those fit pretty well in the context of the War on Poverty and the Great Society? The multiplication of federal bureaucracies (Homeland Security, TSA, the new intelligence czar post): happy days are here again!

Yes, this time the war is in southwest Asia instead of southeast, and the skyrocketing domestic spending has different sets of initials, but those are tiny details. Looking at the big picture, it's clear that Bush II is very well positioned to be the Lyndon Baines Johnson of the early 21st century. And the Grand Old Party has at last vanquished the contemptible Democrats, by the elegant political strategy of simply becoming the Democrats. Devilishly clever, these pachyderms. Their winning strategy might be a little troublesome to those old limited-government, constitutionalist "conservatives." But they're turning out to be an amazingly adaptable crew, and it seems that being on the winning side is wonderfully soothing to sore, bruised principles.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Another Vital Federal Matter

How can one adequately make fun of an institution that so grotesquely parodies itself?

I'm thinking of the D.C. junta, personified in this case by the House Government Reform Committee. (And no, I didn't just make that up, really! You can read all about it here. Really!)

Yes, indeed, with Leviathan in debt to the tune of $7.75 trillion, unable to secure its own borders (and generally uninterested the project), and multiplying wholly-optional wars of aggression overseas, what are our glorious representatives busying themselves with? That's right: the burning question of what's to be done about those naughty "professional" baseballers who are using hazardous substances to unfairly enhance their performances.

Let's see: we could ask exactly where in that celebrated dead letter, the U.S. Constitution, Congress is empowered to concern itself with entertainment practices. But what's the use? One could ask the same thing about at least 99% of the Congress's other activities as well ... and just as usefully.

Or we could wonder just how a Congresscritter, a proud member of an institution that is routinely unable to approve a budget (something that they're actually supposed to do) in an orderly or respectable fashion, can keep a straight face while proposing to order the affairs of any other institution. But, I suppose we can rely on any of our porcine Representatives to have mastered completely the art of simulating a normal facial expression while orally spewing crap. It's just part of the job.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law ..."

I just finished, last week, going through the book of Galatians with my Sunday School class. (My students there are your basic teenagers.) Then I saw this at the Washington Post.

Do you get as tired of this stuff as I do? Both sides hurling misunderstandings and illogicalities at each other? And it's absolutely inevitable, as long as there's a huge, powerful government that somebody's going to use to tell everybody else what to do. Without a rotting corpse, the jackals and the buzzards don't have a reason to quarrel.

But, back to Galatians. I have to wonder: why is it that Christians should be contending so hotly for the Decalogue to be posted on the regime's alleged property? Christians are supposed to be dead to sin, and to the Law that imputes sin. I would think it would be religious Jewish folk who would be eager to see the Commandments posted everywhere. But then, there's a lot of things that I might expect to happen ... and few of them ever do, to be sure.

One also often hears Commandments fans questioned for hypocrisy: "Do you have the Ten Commandments posted in your home?" Fair question. In my case, I think I'll pre-empt it. In fact, I'll kill two birds with one stone, in either the hand or the bush (man, it's hard to keep these cliche metaphors straight!). I shall post something that I think is a little more appropriate for a Christian; and I'll post it in "my" blog (as opposed to what we sloppily call "government property"). I'll post the words with which Jesus began the famous Sermon on the Mount.

From Matthew chapter 5 (verses 3 through 12):

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when men cast insults at you and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were sent before you.

Have an excellent day.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Who left the window open?

Anybody feel a draft?

Myself, I'm cheering for one. It might go a long way toward cutting down on support for the wars, among those whose greatest current wartime sacrifice is the need to allocate limited SUV display space among the competing demands of magnetic ribbons of various hues, stylized NASCAR car numbers, and the ever-popular (if unauthorized) image of Calvin pissing on this or that.

And yes -- of course! -- draft the young women, too. America needs to see the nineteen-year-old girls reporting involuntarily for basic training, just to get the full, rich flavor of Imperial life in the 21st century.