Monday, February 26, 2007
My first question is, is this warming thing really happening? I read sometimes that every decent scientist says "yes." Then I read elsewhere that some say "no." Then I read that the earth has gone through cycles of warming and cooling, and warming again. Then I read that a global warming conference in DC two weeks ago didn't meet due to the snowstorms. Then I read that it's warmer now, but that the process isn't man-made. And finally I read that the data they have doesn't go back far enough to tell us anything. I honestly don't know what to make of it. And some of the folks that seem sure, on both sides, seem TOO sure for my taste--as if their surety isn't the least bit dependent upon science, but instead is agenda-driven.
Secondly, if there IS global warming, what are the genuine, realistic risks? Is it a tenth of a degree over 100 years, or the melting of all the ice at the North Pole and time for an ark? I think I'd buy the whole theory more if the predictions were just a little less dire.
Next, assuming it's real, and the consequences are bad, what can we do about it... again, realistically? I know the senate shot down the original Kyoto treaty by 90-some votes, mainly because it exempted "developing" countries, like India and China, so they could go on burning coal while we in the west are all buying hybrid cars. How much does our effort buy us in terms of relief? Can we make enough difference to overcome 3 billion Asians' bad environmental behavior? Or do we all have to get on board to avoid doom? And what, exactly, is the prescription? Are we talking recycle and carpool, or are we talking the end of the internal combustion engine?
Finally, what's the opportunity cost? We all know that a 20-mph speed limit would save numerous lives. But we don't have one because it's just plain not worth it to spend the time. Likewise, what is the cost--in dollars, in lives, in convenience, in quality of life--of doing what it takes to get the benefits/avoid the pains of global warming? If, for example, the cost of saving a million lives in 100 years is $4 gas, fine. I'll pay. But if it's 250,000 lives in the next 10 years lost as third-world nations are stunted in their development, that reads differently. If it's major world-wide economic depression of 1930s proportions, that needs to be weighed, too. Again, I have no clue. But it seems to me that somebody ought to be asking these questions.
None of this is to say that we should just bury our heads in the sand, or behave badly on purpose until it is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that our actions have consequences. Conservation, "green" behavior, and the like are worthwhile even if there is no imminent threat of cataclysm. I just wish I heard less doom and gloom, less posturing, and more genuine, thoughtful discussion of the issue. Any of my maybe a dozen regular readers got a clue about this stuff?
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Symptoms of Disorganization:
“The first step we may have to take is that of a ruthless self-appraisal about our habits of time use. Are we actually disorganized or not? Let us consider the traits of a disorganized life. Some of these symptoms may seem a bit ridiculous, even petty. But they are part of a larger picture that all fits together.” (p. 65)
When I am disorganized…
My desk takes on a cluttered appearance (along with other horizontal surfaces).
My car is dirty, inside and out (or behind on regular maintenance).
I become aware of a diminution in my self-esteem (as I wonder if anyone else recognizes that I really don’t have it all together).
There are a series of forgotten appointments, telephone messages to which I have failed to respond, and deadlines I have begun to miss. (This is more than just having a day where things beyond our control de-rail us; it’s the process of things beginning to pile up).
I tend to invest my energies in unproductive tasks (including procrastination and the general loss of will to put forth my best effort).
I feel poorly about my work (know deep inside it’s not my best).
The quality of my intimate time with God suffers. (God gets taken for granted, or pushed to the side).
The quality of my other personal relationship suffer.
I don’t much like myself, my job, or much else about my world. (pp. 66-67)
There are plenty of books and systems that offer help with time management and organization. But beneath the tactics, gimmicks, and tricks are some fundamental principles, which can be found in the example of Jesus:
“All four gospel writers present to us a picture of Jesus under constant pressure, as He was pursued by friend and enemy alike…. But one never gets the feeling when studying the life of Christ that He ever hurried, that he ever had to play ‘catch up ball,’ or that he was ever taken by surprise.” (p. 69)
He clearly understood His mission. (To seek and save the lost, Luke 19:10)
He saw “interruptions” (like Bartimaeus or Zaccheus) through the lens of that mission.
He understood His own limits, and therefore spent regular time in solitude with the Father, as well as time in preparation for major events (as did John, Moses, etc.)
He set aside time for discipling the twelve.
Week 6 Notes:
Chapter 7: Recapturing My Time
MacDonald’s Laws of Unseized Time (pp. 74-79):
Unseized time flows toward my weaknesses. (It’s easier to “fake it” in my areas of strength while putting disproportionate effort into areas of weakness. One solution: delegation.)
Unseized time comes under the influence of dominant people in my world. (One solution: formal “budgeting” of time priorities.)
Unseized time surrenders to the demands of all emergencies. (Solutions: Ask the “why now?” question; also budgeting time.)
Unseized time gets invested in things that gain public acclamation. (Solution: Be proactive, not reactive; be called, not driven.)
NOTE: These “Laws” are related to the idea of called vs. driven motivation/
How Time Is Recaptured (pp. 79-85):
I must know my rhythms of maximum effectiveness. (Sleep and fatigue patterns, morning vs. evening person, rhythm of the week, month, and year)
I must have good criteria for choosing how to use my time. (Picking the “best” over the “good” is a function of being called and knowing your mission; the secret to saying “no” is a better “yes” to a higher priority)
I seize time and command it when I budget it far in advance (“put the big rocks in first”)
Time Budgets vs. Money Budgets:
“Give Every Dollar (Hour) A Name” (Dave Ramsey)
Shared Goals and Priorities Within Families/Marriages (The “budget committee”)
Necessities/ “Bills” before Discretionary Expenses
God gets the first-fruits
If you don’t save off the top, there will never be “left over”
Some people have more money than they can spend, but nobody has extra time!
Jesus’ Time Budget:
When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures.
Early the next morning Jesus went out into the wilderness. The crowds searched everywhere for him, and when they finally found him, they begged him not to leave them.  But he replied, "I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other places, too, because that is why I was sent."
One day soon afterward Jesus went to a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.
As the time drew near for his return to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.
When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. "Zacchaeus!" he said. "Quick, come down! For I must be a guest in your home today."
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Here's an area where I think we evangelical Christian types need to tighten up. I read Dobson. I like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. I think "family values" are among the preeminent issues of our day (which is why I think the issue of judges is so important). But we on the "Christian Right" get all worked up about the issue of "gay marriage" and all its permutations, while that encompasses, what, 3-4% of the population at best? But we have gotten so used to adultery, fornication, and divorce that we almost entirely ignore the way they run rampant through our society, leaving something like half of all families in their wake. As Jesus said of the Pharisees, we are straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! Now don't get me wrong--I don't want to swallow any gnats, either. I'm not saying that until we deal with our issues in the hetero community that we have to give a pass to potentially damaging social changes--far from it. Adding more wrongs is never a way to get to right. But we ought to at least recognize that sexual sin comes in many varieties, and not think we're oh-so-moral for not watching "Will & Grace" while laughing our heads off at the promiscuity in "Friends" (or whatever the shows are nowadays--my TV is limited to sports and "Walker, Texas Ranger").
So, in the primaries, don't expect unbridled enthusiasm for the adultery caucus from this angle. And even my weasel-like squirming to maintain my options come general-election time won't change that. I'm very tired of voting against the "lesser of two evils." There will come a time, maybe this time, when that old line doesn't work anymore. But that's a post for a different day
Again, apologies to all who are offended for the snarkiness. I don't think it's partisan to go after Edwards; it's just easy. Give me a few minutes to compose and I'll say something obnoxious about Rudy Giuliani, too.
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Saturday, February 3, 2007
“Can the driven person be changed? Most certainly. It begins when such a person faces up to the fact that he is operating according to drives and not calls. That discovery is usually made in the blinding, searching light of an encounter with Christ.” (page 48)
“Paul the apostle in his pre-Christian days was driven. As a driven man, he studied, he attained, he defended, and he was applauded… later, when he could look back at that life-style with all of its compulsions, he would say, ‘it was all worthless.’ …Paul was driven until Christ called him… when, in complete submission, he asked Jesus Christ, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ A driven man was converted into a called one.” (page 48)
John—A Picture of a Called Man:
 John replied, "God in heaven appoints each person's work.  You yourselves know how plainly I told you that I am not the Messiah. I am here to prepare the way for him—that is all.  The bride will go where the bridegroom is. A bridegroom's friend rejoices with him. I am the bridegroom's friend, and I am filled with joy at his success.  He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. (John 3:27-30)
Called People Understand Stewardship. Saul acted like the throne belonged to Him. John knew that “his” crowds were only “his” until it was time to turn them over to their real owner, Jesus. “His crowds may be our careers, our assets, our natural and spiritual gifts, our health. Are these things owned, or merely managed in the name of the One who gave them?” (page 54)
Called People Know Exactly Who They Are. John not only knew who he was, but also who he was NOT—the messiah. “…Those whose private worlds are in disarray tend to get their identities confused. They can have an increasing ability to separate role from person. What they do is indistinguishable from who they are.” (page 54)
Called People Possess an Unwavering Sense of Purpose. Notice that John’s purpose was to bring glory to Jesus.
Called People Understand Unswerving Commitment. John was 100% committed to Jesus, to the point of saying “he must increase, but I must decrease.”
Because of These Things, Called People (Like John) are Filled With Peace and Joy.
 It was now the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, the Roman emperor. Pilate was governor over Judea; Herod Antipas was ruler over Galilee; his brother Philip was ruler over Iturea and Traconitis; Lysanias was ruler over Abilene.  Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests. At this time a message from God came to John son of Zechariah, who was living out in the wilderness.  Then John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had turned from their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. (Luke 3:1-3)
The Word of God Came to John… In the WILDERNESS. John experienced both quiet and dependence upon God in the wilderness.
“Look inside. What makes you tick? Why are you doing all of that? What do you hope to gain as a result? Andwhat would be your reaction if it was all taken away?”
Friday, February 2, 2007
Well, she came home at lunchtime to find him just packing up his tool bag. He proudly took her in to show her the repairs. But he took her in to the kids' bathroom--the one that was working JUST FINE. To add insult to injury, not only had he changed the only working shower-head in the house, he had replaced it with the exact same energy-efficient model that I had unscrewed and thrown away when we bought the house because it basically just dribbles on you. So We had gone from two full baths to a bath and half down to... what, a bath and a quarter?
The story does have a happy ending, however. Once Pop realized that (A) it was the master bath that didn't work, and (B) the "broken" shower head really wasn't, he decided that the best possible solution would be to try putting those two together. Voila! All's well that ends well--I can't wait to actually shower in comfort again. Thanks, Pop!
Thursday, February 1, 2007
Now here's the thing. I read that, and didn't think, "what a fool" or "what a racist." I thought, "poor Joe. You can't give them red meat like that." Of course, what he is saying is true at its core--Obama is the first African-American candidate who has a legitimate chance to win, and his personal attributes and background, including his unique transcendance of race, really are "storybook," which is one of the main reasons he does have a chance. But in this era of blogs (present company included) and youtube, every word any public figure says is guaranteed to be taken in the worst possible light by someone. And once that is done, you've got "news," and then the media will gladly run with it. Now, some of this is good--the wide-open nature of the "new media" allows for an opening up of the former monopoly on news once held by just a few "professionals." But I do find myself lamenting a simpler time when "the media" chose not to show pictures of FDR in his wheelchair because it just plain wasn't good for the country.
This doesn't mean that I want some amorphous "them" to decide what I get to see and hear. But I do wish some human charity were extended to the folks who aspire to public office. The bar is so high that many good people might ask, "who in their right mind wants that kind of treatment?" A few years ago, Trent Lott lost his senate leadership post because he said something nice about Strom Thurmond's Dixiecrat run for president in 1948. Now, he was just saying something kind about an old man on the occasion of his final birthday. I don't think anybody looks back with hindsight now and wishes Strom had won. Maybe a very few oldsters think Dewey should have, although old Harry Truman has been treated pretty kindly by history. But the news ran the "story" of Lott's "bombshell" until it took on a life of its own. In basketball, you would call either the Lott or the Biden quotes, "a good no-call." The world is full of no-calls and non-stories. I wish we (all of us) could stop nit-picking the unimportant stuff and spend time on substance.