Saturday, December 18, 2004

Religion and Advertising

NBC and CBS have refused to allow the United Church of Christ to buy ad time on their networks. I've seen the ad. It's innocuous, and curiously frank in comparing the church to a nightclub in which there are no bouncers. I'm sure that is meant as a criticism of churches that have standards for membership, but it reminds me that Christ taught that he will judge the world and that his invitation to come to him includes the major condition of repentance:
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

A.C.L.U.'s true mission: fundraising

Apparently, the A.C.L.U. has been compiling a database on its donors, while it publicly criticizes banks and other businesses for doing the same thing.

It's time we recognized that "non-profit" is just another money-making venture for those participating. There are many churches "built up to get gain" as the Book of Mormon puts it, as well as pseudo-religions like environmentalism and the A.C.L.U.

Friday, December 17, 2004


I have to admit that my blogging has dropped off lately, after I heard Hugh Hewitt kidding his staffers about their excitement over the release of Halo 2. I bought the PC version of Halo and have been playing it. Personally, I thought Descent and its sequels were much better games, but Halo is definitely endorphin-packed. I noticed this morning that when I close my eyes I keep seeing phantom screens from Halo rushing at me. I can certainly attest, as well, that this game isn't for 56-year-olds with rheumatoid arthritis. My right thumb is going numb. I'm stuck at a checkpoint near the end, I hope, but the game has a tendency to keep stringing you along with "all we need to do now is another Herculean task" and make you wonder when it will all end.

If this were real, it could pass for Hell, being killed by one of three different enemies, only to be immediately revived to do it over again. I would definitely not make it in any real-life army, except as cannon fodder. I was wondering yesterday how many times my character has been killed so far by being blown up, riddled with bullets, glass shards or energy pulsed, falling from great heights, attack by parasitical creatures and generally being beaten to pulp.

I was thinking about buying a new game console for Christmas, but no more. This is just to hard on me. Maybe I'll be back to blogging more often if this Sisiphean torture ever ends.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Courts should butt out of elections

Hugh Hewitt was prophetic in writing If it's not close, they can't cheat.

The Democrats in Washington state, having lost the governorship by less than 100 votes are pulling out all the stops to dig up disqualified votes they can argue should be counted.

My position on the mess in Florida in 2000 was that the Constitution leaves it up to the state legislature to decide how the states' electors are chosen. They did so and the result of the polling was certified by the legal authorities. Without definite evidence of fraud, the courts should stay out of it. That's what Bush v. Gore should have said. Same thing in Washington. The courts should be reluctant to intervene, and when they do, it should be to confirm that the civil authorities charged with conducting elections have the last word, unless there is clear evidence of fraud.

Politics can be a nasty and highly emotional business. So can court cases. There is no good reason to compound the two.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Christmas Story: the Real Truth

Newsweek's story last week on the birth of Jesus has Hugh Hewitt hopping mad. He devoted the last two hours of his show today to discussing the article with two protestant theologians. I've never believed that lining up scholars is the way to prove anything. How can anybody, no matter how learned, have that kind of authority?

Joseph Smith, whom I accept as one of the greatest prophets who ever lived, saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. He testified to that multiple times, and was murdered because he claimed that God called him to restore the church that Jesus established along with the authority held by the original Apostles. That church has grown since 1830 to nearly 12 million members. If an eyewitness and a prophet, seer and revelator is not enough proof for you, why bother with the conversation. No number of theologians can prove it, unless you're unduly impressed by university degrees.

This kind of stuff comes around all the time in the news media, none of whom can really give any authoritative answer to questions like Jesus' birth to a virgin. I think that anybody who has lived to the age of 15 and still believes in Christianity should have already confronted this kind of attack, and disposed of it. Lack of proof is not the same as proof of falsehood, especially when you rule out every form of proof that doesn't conform to your argument.

I don't believe in the Christmas story because of what Newsweek tells me, and it strikes me as hubris on a cosmic scale to presume for any publisher or writer in this day and age to want to convince me that it is untrue. If my faith was based on the number of scoffers vs. the number of affirmers I've ever considered, it wouldn't be worth the effort. I served two years as a missionary for Jesus Christ, and I personally witnessed the workings of the spirit. That's how I know that Jesus is the Christ, that there is no other path to eternal life, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that the church Christ founded has been restored to the earth. I've tested it for myself and I received confirmation in ways that I didn't expect. The proof came upon me unawares, and I knew that it wasn't something I was wishing myself into.

I know for myself that there are things in the world that science and history can't explain or document, that this is all part of a greater reality with its own rules. I don't claim to be a visionary or a prophet. I have only seen the light on the horizon, and it is there. There are others with greater gifts and knowledge, and because of that brightness on the horizon, I trust them, and have trusted them with my life.

IT'S ABOUT FAITH, PEOPLE! That means it can't be proven except by a trial of your own. Even when it has been proven to you, all you can do is testify about your experience. If people don't want to believe you, they don't have to. Such people are usually not very interested in the kind of questions that are answered by the Gospel of Christ in the first place, and so it's a waste of breath to try to convince them. If anybody cares, I believe in Christ and in the Christmas story as it is told in the Bible. If you want to know why, you have to humble yourself before God and seek it yourself. I'm just a witness.

Monday, December 13, 2004

What made Viktor Yushchenko sick?

Apparently something that was Putin his food.

Sunday, December 12, 2004


Much of the content of faith is counterintuitive, or more accurately, counter-conventional-wisdom like this experience of an English teacher in Damascus in which Arab Muslims express support for President Bush because he's " a strong leader, an honest man, and, most of all, a believer." There may be quite a few Iraqis who privately agree.

Many of the values held in contempt by the likes of Michael Moore, used to be the conventional wisdom and form the core of what conservatives want to conserve, rather than the straw-man positions typically ascribed to them by liberals. Many others are just the lessons of experience and logic from which our affluence has isolated us. Otherwise, socialism, entitlement programs and platitudes like the War on Poverty and the New Deal, New Frontier, and Great Society would be taken about as seriously today as Stalinism.