Monthly Archives: October 2008

Other proposals on the ballots next Tuesday


Besides Obama-McCain there are other issues on the ballot that may have far-reaching cultural signifigance. Here are some of the proposals that American voters will be voting for next week.

Washington – is voting for physician-assisted suicide, which is now iWAn place in Oregon. Initiative 1000 PASSED 59%-41%

Massachussets – voting to ban dog-racing PASSED 56%-44%, ease Marijuana laws PASSED 65-35%  , scrap the state income tax DID NOT PASS – 70%-30%

Florida – constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage PASSED

Arizona – constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage PASSED

California – constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage which is controversial because they already have same sex marriage in CA so a lot of people will wake up and find out that they are not married if it passes. It is called Proposition 8. PASSED

Arkansas – unmarried couples (by which they mean gay couples) cannot adopt or be foster parents. PASSED

South Dakota – abortion banned except for rape, incest, and serious health threat. DID NOT PASS

Colorado – human life begins at conception – the “personhood” amendment, a proposal to ban affirmative action based on race or gender DID NOT PASS

Nebraska – proposal to ban affirmative action based on race or gender PASS

Ohio – allow first casino DID NOT PASS

Arkansas – establish a state lottery PASS

Maryland – allow 15,000 slot machines PASS

Oregon – limit teaching of students in another language than english to 2 years. DID NOT PASS

Missouri – English is the official language of all government proceedings in MO PASS

Oregon – merit pay to teachers based on “classroom performance” DID NOT PASS

California – $9.95 billion dollar high speed railroad between SF and LA. PASS  In SF there is Proposition K to decriminalize prostitution.  DID NOT PASS

Proposition 2 PASS – Standards for Confining Farm Animals. Initiative Statute:

This 2008 California initiative measure would add to the Health & Safety Code with a law entitled, “The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act.” Specifically, the proposed law requires that calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens and pregnant pigs be confined only in ways that allow these animals to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely. Exceptions are made for transportation, rodeos, fairs, 4-H programs, lawful slaughter, research and veterinary purposes. The law provides misdemeanor penalties, including a fine not to exceed $1,000 and/or imprisonment in jail for up to 180 days and would go into effect on January 1, 2015.

California – chickens, veal claves and pregnant pigs must be able to lie down, stand up, turn around or spread their wings. (PASS 63.2% – 36.8%)

Michigan – voting for the desireablity of embryontic stem cell research PASS, medical marijuana  (2.5 oz or 12 plants if you are a registered patient with a debilitating medical condition). PASS

Alaska – there was a proposal that would have banned killing free-ranging wolf and grizzly bears by aerial hunting (using a plane find animals to kill). This proposal failed in August.

This 2008 measure was an initiated state statute presented to voters in August of 2008.  The measure would have prohibited shooting of a free-ranging wolf, wolverine, or grizzly bear the same day that the person has been airborne.  It was defeated by a margin of 44.4% for the measure and 55.6% against on August 26th.

Pennsylvania – the only proposition I could find is agreeing to 400 million dollar debt for water and sewer improvements. These improvements are necessary because some of the pipe infrastructure is very old.PASS

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A Poll on when a human will next visit the moon

A poll on when a human will next visit the moon (and come back to earth alive). Please leave a comment on what country you believe this person will be from and any other information you may have! Thanks. I’m playing around with the new WordPress Poll Feature.

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Joseph Biden headed the committee that borked Bork

VP Nominee Joseph Biden made Ronald Reagan sad by heading the judicial committee that rejected his Supreme Court nominee – Judge Robert H Bork.

Ronald Reagan said in defeat:

President Reagan, in a statement released by the White House, said, ”I am saddened and disappointed that the Senate has bowed today to a campaign of political pressure.” The Next Nominee? In the final hours of the three-day debate on the Senate floor, senators turned their attention to the next nominee for the vacancy on the court. The White House is not expected to name a new candidate before the middle of next week.

The President has publicly vowed to find a nominee who will upset Judge Bork’s opponents ”just as much” as Judge Bork himself. Mr. Reagan said today, ”My next nominee for the Court will share Judge Bork’s belief in judicial restraint – that a judge is bound by the Constitution to interpret laws, not make them.”

and here is Biden gloating about his victory:

Senator Biden repeated the statement with which he opened Judge Bork’s confirmation hearings last month, and which he has made a theme for the entire proceeding. ”I believe I have rights because I exist, in spite of my government, not because of my government,” he said. ”Judge Bork believes that rights flow from the majority, through the Constitution to individuals, a notion I reject.”

After the vote, Senator Biden said that although ”I enjoy winning,” this particular victory was ”less enjoyable than others, because we are talking about a man who had to sit home and listen to this, a fine man who just had a view of the Constitution that is out of touch with the 1980’s and 1990’s.”

The debate thus ended with Judge Bork’s supporters and opponents holding fundamentally irreconcilable views of what had gone wrong for the nominee. His supporters insisted that he had been misunderstood and mischaracterized, while his opponents maintained that he lost precisely because the senators and their constituents did understand his views, and rejected them.

These quotes are from an October 24, 1987 NY Times article Bork Nomination is Rejected, 58-42;Reagan saddened



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Proposition K: Legalizing Sex Trafficking in San Francisco

There is a proposition to legalize all forms of prostitution in San Francisco that is called Proposition K. It would forbid local authorities from investigating, arresting or prosecuting anyone for selling sex. Read about it from CNN HERE.

The reason that this is such a bad idea is that people enslave teenage girls for purposes of their own greed. Prostitution is not a victimless crime. It involves taking advantage of the innocence and naivety of people and making them into sex slaves and cash cows. It is demeaning to women and to human liberty.

There are many issues being decided on election day that effect the nation morally besides the big decision of the leader of the free world. In California there are propositions ranging from gay marriage to whether chickens have a right to spread their wings. Read about them here.


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Liberal Fairy Dust and Conservative Hardballing

“Uncritical acceptance of any party line is an idolatrous abdication of one’s core identity as Abba’s child. Neither liberal fairy dust nor conservative hardball addresses human dignity, which is often dressed in rags. Abba’s children find a third option. They are guided by God’s Word and by it alone. All religious and political systems, Right and Left alike, are the work of human beings. Abba’s children will not sell their birthright for any mess of pottage, conservative or liberal. They hold fast to their freedom in Christ to live the gospel—uncontaminated by cultural dreck, political flotsam, and the filigreed hypocrisies of bullying religion.”

Christian Author Bennan Manning found here

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Oxford, England

I went to Oxford last week. Here are some pictures:

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Desert Wisdom

In the fourth and fifth century, Christianity was becoming considered “normal” and many Christians decided that the best way to escape “compromise, adaption, and a lukewarm spirituality” to follow the radical call of Christ was to chose “solitude, silence, and prayer” in the desert. Here are some of their sayings and stories of the Desert Fathers and Mothers:

 On seeking God

Abba Sisoes said: Seek God, and not where God lives.

On silence

It was said about Abba Agathon that for three years he carried a pebble in his mouth until he learned to be silent.

On being sane

Abba Anthony said: The time is coming when people will be insane, and when they see someone how is not insane, they will attack that person saying: Your are insane because you are not like us.

On not pinching

Some old men came to see Abba Poemen, and said to him: Tell us, when we see brothers dozing during sacred office, should we pinch them so they will stay awake? The old man said to them: Actually, if I saw a brother sleeping, I would put his head on my knees and let him rest.

On giving everything to the poor

Abba Evagrius said that there was a brother, called Serapion, who didn’t own anything except the Gospel, and this he sold to give the poor. And he said these words, which are worth remembering: I have even sold the very word which you have commanded me: Sell everything and give to the poor.

On staying at the table

Amma Sycletica said: If you happen to live in a community, do not move to another place, for it will harm you greatly. If a bird leaves her eggs, they never hatch. So also the monk and the nun grow cold and dead in faith by going from place to place.

On social justice

One day Abba Arsenius was asking an old Egyptian man for advice about what he was thinking. There was someone who saw this and said to him: Abba Arsenius, why is a person like you, who has such great knowledge of greek and Latin, asking a peasant like this about your thoughts? He replied: Indeed, I have learned the knowledge of Latin and Greek, yet I have not learned even the alphabet of this peasant.

We are all sinners (and an interesting perspective on church discipline)

A brother who had sinned was expelled by the priest from the church. But Abba Bessarion stood up and went out with him, saying: I too am a sinner.

On not wasting time

An old man said: if you have lost gold or silver, you can find something in place of what you lost. However, if you lose time you cannot replace what you lost.

Dogs compared to humans

Abba Xanthias said: A dog is better than I am because it also has love, but it does not pass judgement.

Abba Benjamin’s dying words

As he was dying, Abba Benjamin taught his sons this: Do this, and you will be saved: Rejoice always, pray constantly, and in all circumstances give thanks.

On having a tough soul when being spiritually mentored

Abba Sisoes the Theban said to his disciple: Tell me what you see in me and in turn I will tell you what I see in you. His disciple said to him: You are good in soul, but a little harsh. The old man said to him: You are good but your soul is not tough.

On 401Ks

Isidore of Pelusia said: Prize virtues, and do not care for worldly prosperity. For the former are certainly immortal, but the latter is so easily extinguished.

On Jesus’s teaching on giving

Abba Epiphanus said: God sells righteousness very cheap to those who are eager to buy: namely, for a little piece of bread, worthless clothes, a cup of cold water and one coin.

Actions are better than words

Abba James said: We do not want words alone, for there are too many words among people today. What we need is action, for that is what we are looking for, not words which do not bear fruit.

This is from a book I got from a used bookstore in Oxford England this week:  Desert Wisdom, Sayings from the Desert Fathers, by Yushi Nomura. It has wonderful illustrations for each saying and story  and encourages the reader to let each saying enter deeply into your innermost being.

Desert Wisdom: Sayings from the Desert Fathers


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The Canadian Election

The Canadians re-elected Stephen Harper as Prime Minister last week.

Check this out to know more about Stephen Harper from Christianity’s Today Election Blog:

The Smartest Evangelical Politician You never heard of

Harper- born April 30, 1959 is the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada. His party, the Conservative Party of Canada, now control 143 of the 308 common seats, in a strengthened minority government.

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the 4 stages of life according to Santa Claus

The First Phase is when you believe in Santa Claus.

The Second Phase is when you DON’T believe in Santa Claus.

The Third Phase is when you ARE Santa Claus.

The Fourth Phase is when you LOOK like Santa Claus.


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N.T Wright on Wisdom in a Troubled Time

Here is a quote from a recent sermon by N.T. Wright. The thing I like about it is that it cuts through the crud of the evolution debate to get to the brass tacks issue of how we should think about who we are in this story. The Genesis 1-3 story is not a story of science but one that points out the human need for Christ. Everything in it is true, I believe, but it does not address the subject of how, scientifically, God created his creation and man. That is a mystery hidden to the ages but that the creation itself points to in many ways. The universe and the earth appear to be very old, and relative to that, human civilization appears to be very young – measurable in thousands of years rather than millions.

I believe a lot of time may have passed between Genesis 1:1 “In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth” and Gen 1:2 “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep”.

Perhaps there was a great civilization of angels with earth as its capital. Perhaps there was war in heaven.

Isaiah 45:18 (NLT) says:

For the Lord is God,
      and he created the heavens and earth
      and put everything in place.
   He made the world to be lived in,
      not to be a place of empty chaos.
   “I am the Lord,” he says,
      “and there is no other.

I just don’t believe that God would have created a place where he would hover over an empty and formless earth. Something happened to make it empty and formless.

In terms of biology, I don’t dispute that Darwin put his finger on a massive truth. In terms of social policy and awareness, he was part of a quite different movement which has been part of our problem, part of the unwisdom which has brought us to our present plight. This is the debate we ought to be having. Get the biology right; fine. But don’t assume that you can read off social ethics and imperatives from that biology. The two need to be separated out, so that we can have the real debate, which is about whether we are creatures of blind chance, programmed to be selfish, or whether we live in God’s world, called to wise and humble service. It is time to think again.

And when I say ‘think again’, I mean just that. This is my second urgent point. We need, once again, to relearn, and to teach the young, how to think. I often say in my diocese that I am passionate about the authority of scripture but equally passionate about the vital and necessary place of reason. We live in a world of unreason, where right and wrong have been reduced to personal preferences and ‘attitudes’, which can then be manipulated by smooth talk – like the verbal shift which says ‘credit’ when it means ‘debt’, and the equivalents of that in every sphere – and where people don’t need to think because they can drift along with the current mood. And you and I know that the next generation will need – boy, will they need! – to be able to think: to think hard, to think through where the world is going and what they need to do in it, to think not about how they can feather their own nests but how they can wisely serve their fellow human beings in God’s world.

from a sermon for the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference

at their Annual Service in Westminster Abbey


September 30 2008, 3 pm


by the Bishop of Durham, Dr N. T. Wright


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