Blonde moment

And the silver spoon.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Interesting Discussions...

Keep in mind my background when I talk about this, Evangelical Free Church. I grew up in a more casual worship format. We didn’t recite The Creed at all, nor did we recite The Lord’s Prayer all that often. In our church, we spent a lot of time using the hymnal, but there was no order of worship in the hymnal. And, the denomination prides itself on its “hands off” approach to church affairs.

So, it seems, from reading different blogs and visiting different churches (I’ve visited three different LCMS congregations throughout the last two years due to travel) there are different views of liturgy, how much of the Book of Concord is important for laypeople to know, and what to do with this Ablaze thing.

I think the heart of the differences is: How can I witness to more people? You know, I’m not sure if there is a good answer to that question. Does denying ones liturgical past get more people to repent of their sins and believe in Jesus? Does denying ones theological past encourage discipleship? How do I attract more people to Jesus?

I think the first thing we need to understand when addressing these topics is “And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:2 ESV) We cannot attract more people to Jesus. Any attempts to “get people in the door to church” through special programs or special works is merely getting people in the door. Jesus is offensive. The message of Law and Gospel is offensive. It is hard to hear, even as a believer, for I still sin.

There are people out there who like engaging in extra-marital sex. There are people out there who like lying. There are people out there who like living a sinful life. There are people out there who like to live life on their own terms without submission to God. We cannot just say, “God loves you and has a Purpose to Drive your life.” It is true, however atheists are claiming to be every bit as moral and purpose filled as Christians. They have music that gives the warm fuzzies just as much as Christian rock gives the warm fuzzies.

I’m not saying particular tactics should not be used as tools in witnessing. I happen to know of a secular song that is particularly effective at explaining sin, “The Freshmen” by The Verve Pipe . “The Freshmen” is certainly more theologically correct then “I could sing of your love forever.” But, it doesn’t make a person feel as pretty. A really good gospel sermon could include the concepts in “The Freshmen” and give the answer to “I cannot believe we’d ever die for these sins.”

Tactics are fine. But we cannot let the world, who hates Christ, dictate how we market an offensive message. And I’m not saying the way one church uses tactics is any better then the way the other church uses tactics. We just cannot deny the truth that this world is not going to be attracted to Jesus on their own. We are all called to salvation by the Holy Spirit. We are called to proclaim the Good News, that Christ died for sins, once for all; that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. As long as the tactics employed do a good job of explaining the grave situation we are in, than go with it. But there is no reason to water down church history and tradition just because.*

*Side note, my church takes a more casual approach to liturgy. I don’t often have a problem with it as Pastor still preaches law and gospel every Sunday and it has the elements of Divine Service.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Irrational Atheists, a review

It did take me a little longer to read and review The Irational Atheists then I intended. Baby was somewhat uncooperative with food last Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, which took away from my intended reading time and some other plans, then Josh was working on the CPU, so this is the first chance that I got to post. As always, I write my review with my target audience, my parents, in mind.

The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens (TIA) by Vox Day

Target Audience: Atheists weak in their faith and agnostics, though a Christian who is actively exposed to secular humanism and other atheistic philosophies will find the book useful in their discussions with others.

Key assumption and theme: This is not one of those "Trust me, this is what atheists believe" books. Day assumes his readers are familiar with the popular atheist thinkers and philosophies of the day. He asserts the atheists have spoken for themselves and interested parties may readily obtain copies of their published works. This book dissects popular arguments made by atheists against organized religion and particularly Christianity.

Format: TIA takes on an approach not unlike Chesterton's approach in Heretics . Each chapter addresses a different topic and/or philosopher.

Theological background: Vox Day is a non-denominational Christian who has been influenced by the open-theism theology of Dr. Greg Boyd. Therefore, the times Day writes about theology, he does so through this theological bias. Of course, it's his book, and his choice. As a Confessional Lutheran, I find some of Dr. Boyd's theology difficult to accept, but my preferance for Confessional Lutheranism does not detract from my enjoyment of the book.

It was my original intent to give a chronological review of TIA. However, something caught my attention towards the end. Day correctly points out that we do not take advantage of, are not capable of, and I add are not interested in, examining all of the evidence for or against a specific issue. As a personal example, Becky is still insistant that The Great Gatsby has this symbolism in it. Unfortunately, my 11th grade English teacher did, as well. I, on the other hand, thought the mention of "yellow" and "green" and whatever added great descriptive detail to the picture Fitzgerald intended me to see in my mind. Who knew there was deeper moral content then people who have extra marital sex die (a similar theme to Anna Karinina... but if all you get out of a work of literature is the assurance that the 10 commandments are good to follow, you learned something). Anyway, the point is, you can provide a person with evidence of a particular topic, and some people just won't get it, or don't want to get it, which is another story.

I would have to say my second favorite part of TIA would be the chapters Day devotes to science. Often Dad would teach us that there is a difference between good science and bad science. Good science, he taught, would add something of value to the body of knowledge and had a process by which someone else could mimic the results. Day has the same view of science. Though I do not know if it was Day's intent to do so, I see some parallels between his opinion of some scientific discoveries and the account in Geneisis of the Fall of Man. "Eat of this tree and you will become like God" seems to have been at the back of Day's mind as he wrote of science. In particular, Day points out the problems in knowing too much about genetics and weaponry. As an aside, if you are looking for someone to provide young earth creation evidence, this is not a book for you. Day does not address evolution. And it is a better book for it. I have attended too many anti-evolution events where the goal is not to convert people to Christianity, but to young earth creationism. And that is a mistaken goal. Day, in my opinion, rightfully stays away from evolution.

Day also discusses war and totalitarian governments. In his discussions of both, he examines whether communist, atheist, or secular humanist establishments are more moral then the religious. His conclusion is no, and that these non-religious estates are worse.

Day ends his book with a breif discussion of arguments used by both atheists and evangelicals in regards to God, that because is omnipresent and omnipotent that He is responsible for evil and "The bad things that happen to good people." The conclusion of the atheist is that God is torturing people, while the evangelical believes bad things happen in life to the good of humanity. Day takes a point of view that I am not comfortable with (and I'm not particularly comfortable with the evangelical point of view either)... that bad things are perhaps a random act or caused by an evil force. His point of view is influenced strongly by Dr. Boyd's teachings and also Day's own occupation as a computer software (particularly games) programmer. I'm not particularly familiar with the details of Dr. Boyd's theology, as such, I will refrain from discussing it further until I've had a better chance to examine it.

Day asserts at the beginning and conclusion of TIA that it is the goal of atheist pilosophers to squash the influence of Christians in society. A particular astute observation from pages 5 and 6: "I believe in living and letting live. If you'll leave me alone, I'll be delighted to do you the courtesy of leaving you alone in return.... I believe what I believe, you believe what you believe, and there's no reason why we shouldn't both be perfectly cool with that. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens are not so much cool with that." Day's point, and I'm leaving out some of the quote, is he is not going to go and create an economic or physiological disincentive for you to reject your faith, but others are willing and trying to create disincentives for you to reject your faith.

Day provides a valuable service to Christians, particularly those who are not capable of pulling apart arguments against God. I strongly recommend the book.

This week in the life of baby…

We reach week 18. We find that the doctor's calculations that "weeks" start on Thursday is just off by three days, so Sundays it is. Baby is 20.5 centimeters and also 7 ounces (confirmed by the ultrasound). Also, Baby’s fingerprints are forming. Baby has a tummy, two kidneys, a bladder, a spine, a brain with two lobes, active arms and legs that have hands and feet attached where appropriate and there are ten fingers and ten toes in the appropraite places. Baby's heart has four chambers with working valves. And Baby seems to be healthy.

I’m also, single incidence, able to eat some poultry products. But I’m still not eating like I did during the first trimester. I’m trying to watch my protein intake and also my fruit and vegetable intake. But women with picky babies must eat what they can.

Anyway... for those who didn't get the hint from my ultrasound picture post, Josh and I want to be surprised regarding Baby's gender.

As always:

It’s a…


The ultrasound technician says that this is a common scalp condition among war babies and those conceived shortly after husbands return from war and it will clear up long before the baby is born. However, they say such things can reappear after a child turns 18…

My thanks to Mitch and Swiftee for the swell idea. You had to know that some 1/34 ID family would take the idea and run with it. Besides, it detracts from the question: What is it? (Apparently, a soldier) Or, is it a boy or a girl? (Gee, I hope so.)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Mid-view of The Irrational Atheists…

So, I kind of intended on having The Irrational Atheists: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens done by now… but it took longer then expected to be delivered* and Baby still insists I go to bed around 8am. I’ll save the complete review for later, as we all know I get wordy, and the book deserves it, but I’d like to share why I bought the book in hopes that others read it.

Vox Day is a non-denominational Christian who has libertarian political views. I’m pointing this out because his theology and viewpoints do influence his writing style. Personally, I see nothing wrong with reading profitable works by Christians I disagree with. I have differing views on free will, for example, then non-denominational Christian libertarians. However, in the Christian scope of published works, there are books where one enjoys the meat.

A Christian would be lacking in his or her literary background if said Christian ignored Mere Christianity , Pilgrim’s Progress , Heretics and Orthodoxy , Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God , Foxe’s Book of Martyrs , The Book of Concord , and other works with theological meat. The theological meat reflects the denominational philosophy of the writer’s choice; however, all provide value to ones Christian walk. Regarding contemporary writers, one could read R. C. Sproul or John Piper as examples of those who provide solid law/gospel teaching.

A Christian could easily ignore works by Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Robert Schuler, Joyce Meyers, and preach and fleecers and have lost nothing. Yes, I say one really doesn’t gain anything but the warm fuzzies for Jesus from Purpose Driven Life.

Vox Day noticed that popular atheist thinkers of the day are getting away with the subtle theological flaws Christians are accused of making. In my estimation, they seem to want people to have the warm fuzzies for atheism much like my bad theological examples want people to have the warm fuzzies for Jesus.

Day understands that, just as atheists are starting to say, “We’re just as good and happy and successful as the Christians are,” Christians are not stepping up and saying, “Wait, Christianity is not about behavior, happiness, and success.” Christians have watered down the gospel message so much that I could find in Hinduism, Buddhism, and a Marketing text book what I can find in Warren, Osteen, Schuler and the like.

Day takes a Chesterton like approach to dealing with the “bad theology” of the atheists, using reason, historical fact, and other verifiable information. His audience is those who are weak atheists or agnostics. A Christian can gain from this book, as well, from learning the teachings of popular atheist teachers, the holes in their doctrine, and the ammunition he provides to intelligently discuss atheism and Christianity with others.

I’m posting this before finishing the book… I’m about half way through. For those interested in apologetics who are inclined to purchase a book attacking atheist philosophies, Day is conducting a little experiment with Amazon ratings, so buy the book between 9 pm central Saturday and 9 pm Sunday. And during football half time, if possible. (Hey, if you’re a Vikings fan or dislike Randy Moss, you have time.)

Oh, and give his blog a visit. If you like Gen. Scuttlebutt or Fred on Everything , you’ll like Vox Day’s blog. Similar writing styles, all. But have your “A-game” on if you comment on a post. His readers take no prisoners.

*If you are pre-ordering several books, order them individually. Otherwise they take the slow boat to deliver the last of your order.

Friday, January 18, 2008

This week in the life of baby…

We find out that Baby is starting to grow fat deposits that will help Baby maintain body temperature when Baby is born. Also, Baby will startle at loud noises, which means Baby can hear! Am I going to be one of those Moms with headphones on her tummy? No. But I reserve the right to change my mind. Also, Baby decided it would be acceptable to eat a chicken sandwich... the first time I've had poultry since Thanksgiving. And, Baby is moving and I can feel it!

Speaking of babies, I am just dying to know if Kara from Finding Guppy has delivered. Perhaps I’ll give her a call this weekend, or maybe her mom. Kara resisted the urge to find out her lil’ pumpkin’s gender. Good for her. I’m set on doing the same.

Speaking of finding out Baby’s gender… we have our ultrasound on the 25th. I’m still saying I don’t want to know. Josh does because he wants to know what kind of toys he should be buying. I explained that all babies like animals and things they can chew on. The grandmothers want to know, of course. But, my doctor’s appointment, my choice. And no, we either both know or neither of us will know. Besides, I’m the one loosing meals.

Baby is at week 17 and as always, info provided by

Laugh of the day….

Two pre-tribbers walk into an LCMS bar... the bartender says, "What are you guys still doing here?"

My advice to the Huckster is should God call up the faithful, pick an LCMS VP .

Another Award!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The weekend pursuits…

One of the benefits the MN National Guard provides its married soldiers is a marriage counseling weekend*. The stipulation is you have to have been deployed for at least 12 months. But we got to stay in a nice hotel and have a weekend away. Plus we attended a really good marriage seminar.

The Guard uses Prep curriculum. The foundation of the course was to teach couples how to communicate with each other. They gave us a method of communication and started with some examples… If you suddenly won $500, how should you spend it? And it built up to what each couple needed to talk about.

Josh and I attended a conference where there was one underlying, marriage changing event that took place in everyone’s life… a 21 to 22 month deployment. Even talking to people who were in the Balkan conflicts of the late 90’s, we had communication easy. But that doesn’t change the fact that we were all separated for a significant amount of time.

It was really nice to attend a retreat where everyone had that one thing in common. During break time, you don’t have to worry about talking to couples and hearing different problems and thinking, “Wow, they have it bad! Why are we complaining?” It was also nice to attend a retreat where the only small group “sharing” interaction was just the couple. And it was nice to have a break as a couple without the every day distractions of television and the computer.

And it was also nice to go to a more secular event**. When one is around other Christians, there is a temptation to try to pretend everything is all good and not get the help one really needs. There was a non-denominational worship service this morning with a vow renewal. The worship service was voluntary. The sermon was about forgiveness and though it didn’t have the complete law and gospel I have become accustomed to, it was a message that was valuable.

Josh and I learned some things that will help us later on with up-coming stressors, planning for Baby, moving, and other various family interactions. So, all in all, it was a great weekend (even though my stomach was a little sensitive on Saturday).

*I would say “free,” but deployments are an expensive way to obtain a trip to a nice hotel and a marriage seminar. And we did pay for our own date night. But we personally did not incur any expense for the hotel, two breakfasts, lunch, and various materials.

**When I say, "Secular," I am not talking about the program, which was developed to be used by churches. Rather, as this was a military funded event, the intent was to use a good program that works. Christianity was not mentioned until the worship service.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Eden Prairie and the rules...

Marion Jones cheated, and she was punished. She serves as an adult example why it is important for athletes to follow the rules set before them.

Students in Eden Prairie decided they were above the rules governing after school activities.

Unfortunately, the Eden Prairie students are only acting like the athletes they admire. However, notice a couple of things about the Athletic Eligibility Code linked to above... the parents have to sign it, too. So, the parents were aware of the rules and the punishment as detailed above.

Why do we have "rules" governing athletic eligibility? We have these rules so the playing field is as level as possible. No one is using drugs to their benefit or to their harm. An athlete is, in theory, not sacrificing ones education for their sport. School districts are not willy-nilly recruiting players across district lines. Small schools with small budgets do not compete with big schools with big budgets. This is not about a school district saying, "I don't want you to have fun." This is about a school district saying, "We want to participate in a competitive league, these are the league rules, and we will enforce them."

Note in the penalty section, point number 20, the stipulation is that this pledge goes YEAR ROUND. You are a freshman who signs the paper in September, drink on July 4th and get caught, you have to pay the following school year. And a student has to sign this pledge each year.

This is not about the district going overboard. This is about the district maintaining its status. And I would be willing to bet, if the district didn't enforce the rules, they wouldn't be able to compete in the league.

Oh, and a note to these students: I had to pee in a cup to get my current job. You'll have to go through more important drug screenings in the future. Just because Bill Clinton got away with it, doesn't mean you will.

This week in the life of Baby…

We decided that enough is enough. I’m the parent and though I may not be able to control the eating habits forced upon me by Baby, I can at least start exercising again. As such, I started getting up six minutes earlier each day to do a portion of a pregnancy Pilates DVD. It’s my hope to be able to do the entire DVD by early next week, and start a day one DVD, day two elliptical machine switch off.

And so, we start week sixteen. Fingernails are now completely formed and I am supposed to start feeling Baby move any week now. In some of my quiet moments, particularly after drinking juice or eating a piece of fruit, I sit still and quietly just to see if perhaps I can get the little gurgle or butterfly feeling.

Baby is probably a little more then six inches and weighs in at 3 ounces. Also, Baby’s ears have migrated from the neck to the proper ear place, all ready for hearing things.


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Thanks to Barb!

Barb has bestowed me with the "Roar for Powerful Words." I'd like to thank Barb for the critical acclaim, Mom and Dad, my target audience, and Josh for putting up with my hobby.

And, I'd like to offer the same Lion Award to Scotty , all around good witness to the faith and constant challenge to Josh and me. (Hope you like pink!)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

About this lack of posting…

My drought with posting pretty much coincides with Baby rebelling against food. The beginning of December, my very mild form of morning sickness subsided. Then, mid-December, Baby started rebelling against poultry… then leftovers… then well, food. Poultry is universally not good. But I ate a (well cooked) roast beef cold cut sandwich a few days ago, and I though, “Oh, that must be good to eat today.” Nope. Decaf Earl Gray tea has been fabulous, then all of a sudden, at work on Wednesday, Baby would have none of that. Baby seems to pretty consistently like tofu, Mori-Nu, in smoothie form with cow’s milk and instant breakfast.

So, though there have been interesting things I’ve been observing or thinking about, I just haven’t really felt up to posting. Spending my time trying to eat or recovering from eating.

Week 15 in Baby’s life…

I’m feeling psychologically better. We heard Baby’s heart rate, a very healthy 157 beats per minute! I also feel “safe” calling this week 15, as I measure 14.5 centimeters. I’ve been prescribed a steroid inhaler for a month to get rid of this lingering cough. And I’m feeling less worried, in general.

So, what’s new… well, I retired most of my “normal” clothes. My sweaters are still OK, but I refuse to be uncomfortable in regular pants, even with the “hair binder trick,” which I did try for a week but didn’t like it. I also have a “baby tummy” which I find particularly cute.

Baby should weigh in at about 70 grams, or 70 paper clips. Baby’s heart is also pumping 25 quarts of blood each day. To put that 25 quarts into perspective… that’s 800 ounces of water… or you know those half liter bottles of water they sell in the store? That’s 47.34 of those bottles... each day! At delivery, Baby will be pumping out 300 quarts, or 568 of those half liter bottles! HUGE! Oh, and Baby probably sucks its thumb! (Awww!)

I’ve scheduled my ultrasound, and am super excited about that! I was offered a blood screen for Down’s Syndrome, Spinal Bifida and a couple of other diseases, but the doctor and I agree it is for the best that we abstain from the tests. Modern ultrasound technology is great, so why not wait until then to find out. By the time I would get the blood screens back and schedule an amniocentesis or villi sampling, if needed, and get those results, I would have spent weeks worrying. Best not to worry.

I was listening to an Issues Etc. show on pre-natal tests and what tests a Christian should get. Thing about us LCMSers, we’re pretty conservative. The issue at hand was: if you found out your baby had such and such a disease, would you be tempted to abort it? And the recommendation seemed to be avoid the temptation. I see it a different way. Sure, there are some things you want to know before hand… a girlfriend of mine had a baby boy with an obstructed urinary tract, and they were able to arrange to deliver at a hospital that performs the surgery the baby needed. But beyond that, it is just plain cool that we can see what God is doing!

So, will we find out what the Baby’s gender is… If it is obvious, we’ll know… but I like the idea of being surprised.


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

This week in the life of Baby…

Sorry, I’ve been a little late with posting. I’m really behind on my at home e-mail too. I’ve been rather exhausted lately (not unexpected) and also not feeling the greatest. I developed a cough around Thanksgiving that hasn’t gone away (probably a new allergy or asthma) so when I go in on Thursday, I’ll ask for a steroid inhaler. Also, Baby has developed an aversion to, well, most of my normal diet, so it has been a trying couple of weeks looking for things that are enjoyable to eat, low in fumes, and have nutritional value. I have a couple of things, to eat, and may just end up completely converting to being a lacto-ovo vegetarian for the remainder of my pregnancy. We’ll see. Baby seems to like tofu thus far, and when I’m less adverse to cooking smells, I have some really nummy dishes that I like to make.

If we are, indeed, at week 14 (started last Thursday), Baby will be practicing breathing with the amniotic fluid and Baby’s bladder will be making movements. Good thing amniotic fluid regenerates every three hours! Baby will also grow to be around five inches long.

And on Thursday, we will go back to try to get a read on Baby’s heart again. If that doesn’t work, then we’ll have an early ultrasound. We’ll also see if I have developed anti-bodies against Baby’s blood. I’ll try to get a post up this weekend.

(as always, from )