Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I don't get it

I have been shopping for commentaries, somethign I really enjoy. I get excited at the prospect of having a new commentary to read cover to cover the way I used to when a new issue of X-Men, Wolverine, or Spiderman came out, or later, when the latest issue of Car and Driver or Automobile Magazine.

But I am a frugal sort, wanting to exercise proper stewardship of the money at my disposal. That means I do a fair amount of comparison shopping in order to find the best price. I figured the best place to go would be the publishers, so I tried them first.

Well the results were not entirely satisfactory (too expensive), so I thought I'd try Christian Book Distributors. I had used them in the past, and thought that I at least couldn't do worse price wise, and might do better with the shipping. To my pleasant surprise, I doscopverd that I could save quite a bit through CBD. But still, its an American company, and that led me to try Chapters-Inidigo Canada.

They were expensive for what they had in the way of commentaries, which was not much. That exasperated me, so I went to Amazon Canada, and they were the same as Chapters-Inidigo. That exasperasted me further, so I went to Amazon in the U.S., just to see if anyone other than Christiasn sold commentaries in any real variety and abundance.

I was shocked to discover the best price was at Amazon.com. I was also disappointed. I thought that if anyone was going to give the best price in Chrisitan books it would be CBD, a company I thought was of Christians, selling books by Christians to Christians.

It turns out that the secularists are doing better "ministry" in that regard. Go figure.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Giving away too much

I am a proponent ofcommunicating the Christian faith in a way that the unsaved and unchurched can relate to. I am a firm advocate of contextualising the Christian message for each new generation.

That said, there are limits. One of those limits would be to try to promote the Christian faith by using a hook that appeals to humanity's baser characteristics. What I mean is that while I don't mind contextualising the Christiam message to answer contemporary questions, to do so in a way that essentially validates negative impulses or questionable assumptions about what is valuable in life is wrong.

Thomas Nelson Publishers has come up with a version of the New Testament geared towards men that validates a number of questionable ideas. For example, one of the "headlines" is "Sexcess: success with the opposite sex!" I realise that the point is likely to point men in the direction of how tio be godly men, but to do so while baiting them with sexuality seems quite opposed to the spirit of biblical teaching, not to mention pandering to the attitudes of an already oversexed society.

I give credit where it is due; this is a slick idea in terms of marketing. Marketing though can either create trends or follow them. It seems to me that Thomas Nelson is following here, and that is disappointing. The Holy Spirit is more creative than imitative, so I am given to wonder whether the Spirit is behind this product.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

My Personality (Yes, I have one)

Your Personality Is

Rational (NT)

You are both logical and creative. You are full of ideas.
You are so rational that you analyze everything. This drives people a little crazy!

Intelligence is important to you. You always like to be around smart people.
In fact, you're often a little short with people who don't impress you mentally.

You seem distant to some - but it's usually because you're deep in thought.
Those who understand you best are fellow Rationals.

In love, you tend to approach things with logic. You seek a compatible mate - who is also very intelligent.

At work, you tend to gravitate toward idea building careers - like programming, medicine, or academia.

With others, you are very honest and direct. People often can't take your criticism well.

As far as your looks go, you're coasting on what you were born with. You think fashion is silly.

On weekends, you spend most of your time thinking, experimenting with new ideas, or learning new things.

How I think. (Yes, I do think.)

Your Brain's Pattern

Your brain is always looking for the connections in life.
You always amaze your friends by figuring out things first.
You're also good at connecting people - and often play match maker.
You see the world in fluid, flexible terms. Nothing is black or white.

From the Shortest Personality Test

Your Personality Profile

You are dependable, popular, and observant.
Deep and thoughtful, you are prone to moodiness.
In fact, your emotions tend to influence everything you do.

You are unique, creative, and expressive.
You don't mind waving your freak flag every once and a while.
And lucky for you, most people find your weird ways charming!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Talkin' 'Bout My Generation?

Last night I had the opportunity to describe to someone what a blog is. Now, this person is not tech savvy at all, so I wasn't really expecting a lot if understanding of the technology or anything like that of blogging. No, I didn't really get into the how of blogging at all.

I didn't get the chance.

Once I described what a blog is, I had to answer a question: WHY? Why would someone put heir thoughts, sometimes very intimate ones, out there for the whole world to see?

The question was very nearly rhetorical. Clearly the question stemmed from incredulity rather than curiosity.

Another person offered a very reasonable response. He said that it was about a need for community. I don;t think that is a bad response ( I gave it to him), but I do think it is inadequate top explain the appeal of blogging.

Yes, blogging creates community. It gives connections. It allows people to feel they are part of something far bigger than themselves that they can connect easily to.

But it is also a HUGE ego stroke.

People from all over the world read your writings, and they not only take you seriously (sometimes seriously enough to comment), they will even promote your writing for still more people to take you seriously.

Wow. You can have your own following. You can have a blog empire. You can be, like, a blog god!

Yup, I need to get out more.

Oh, the Sens are 5-0 to start the season. :-)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

About the "other blog"

Below I mentoned two blogs, one of which I was sorely unimpressed with.

I now consider it to be a hoax. Its a spoof. The identity of the author is made up.

Next time I will check on such things before I post.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

A Tale of Two blogs

This week I began reading a cupe fo blogs which are new to me. The two could hardly be more different.

The first is Masterpiece In Progress . The author of this blog is, from my reading, a thoughtful person, reasonably well educated, but not thinking too much of that fact. He has opinions and is not afraid to stand for them, but you never get the sense that he assumes his superiority. He certainly seems ot have a proper disdain for certain ideas (read: bad ones), but does not trnaslate that into a disdain of people.

The second is, shall we simply say, the opposite of that. Fancying himself a "postevangelical" the blog is an outpost for many fringe ideas. The author seems to be nothing more than a liberal (though he considers himself moderate), who is "inclusive" in the worst way. He seems to think that pandering to the spirit of the age is being relevant. It is not a worthwhile read. That's why I am not linking to it.

Why mention the other blog if it is that bad? The contrast struck me. That's all.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Who's afraid of the big bad evangelical?

An Insider's View of Evangelicals
First of all, they are not fundamentalists. They're your neighbours who read, and try to live by, the Bible, but not to the point of absurdity. Some may see them as boring, but they're definitely not scary.
by Michael Davenport
This article was written to non-believers in response to a series of articles in the Vancouver Sun in July 2005, warning people about Evangelicals. Advertisements for the articles asked, for example, "Are they active in a church near you?" One reader wrote a letter affirming that she was afraid of Evangelicals. The Liberal party of Canada conducted a poll before the last federal election asking Ontarians if they would be "more or less likely to vote for the Conservative/Alliance if they knew it had been taken over by Evangelical Christians."
Mike Davenport wrote to the editors of the Sun suggesting that such rhetoric was marginalizing and thus incompatible with Canadian values. He offered to write an "Insider's View" and promised not to preach. To his surprise, they immediately said "yes" and offered him a quarter page. He said he needed a whole page, and in the end they gave it to him.
The following text is (approximately) the article that he submitted to them. They published a large portion of it, adding the headlines and their own photos and captions.
This article can be helpful to church leaders and individuals who wish to help seekers gain an understanding of the Christian faith and Christian community.
Does it ever happen that you and a friend view the same event or object and see completely different things? We have a blanket in our house that looks grey to me, but when I say so to my son he rolls over laughing and says "no Dad, it's green." Now, I can see green just fine, and that blanket does not look green to me.
… think of this as a National Geographic article about a strange tribe …
That's the sort of disconnect I experience when the media "warn" people about Evangelicals, or when someone writes a letter to the editor saying "I am afraid of Evangelicals." Afraid? Of us? The ones—you know—that bring you a casserole when there's a death in the family, that don't cheat on our taxes, that stop for you at the crosswalk?
My son and I resolved the blanket controversy by taking it outside into the sunlight, where I had to admit that is was green (a grey-green, ok?). My objective in this article is to bring Evangelicals out into the Sun where you can see for yourself what our true colours are. Think of this as a National Geographic article about a strange tribe living in your midst.
Not fundamentalists
Let's get some common misperceptions out of the way. First, don't confuse Evangelicals with TV evangelists—they are no more similar than Conservatives and conservationists. In 30 years of attending Evangelical churches, I have honestly never seen Bible-thumping hucksters or white-shoed crooners … well, except once in New York in 1979, but let's not go there.
What the Words Mean
Christian: a follower of Jesus, whose life is described in the Christian Bible;
A Church: a group of Christians that worship together
Being "Saved": being reconciled to, and declaring allegiance to, Jesus
Evangelist: a Christian (not necessarily an Evangelical) who is telling non-Christians about Jesus;
Evangelical: a movement that affirms traditional theology and submits to the authority of the bible while striving to participate creatively in modern society
Christian Liberalism: a movement to assert intellectual and cultural authority over the bible, including revising traditional theology where it conflicts with modern ideals
Fundamentalism: an extremist movement within any religious or secular group, marked by dogmatic anti-intellectualism, unwillingness to engage opposing points of view, and separation from society.
Second, please don't confuse "Evangelical" with "Fundamentalist"—most Evangelicals would be offended by that. Fundamentalism began in the 1920s as a movement among Christians to separate from their "corrupt" society and to avert their eyes from intellectual attacks on the Bible. By the 1940s, the Fundamentalist movement had strayed so far from Evangelical values of intellectual and cultural engagement with society, that mainstream Evangelicals formed alliances and created programs specifically to strengthen their members against Fundamentalist influence. So you can imagine how galling it is for those same churches to now be called "Fundamentalist"—sort of like mistaking Greenpeace for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
An approach to faith
One source of confusion is that the term "Evangelical" identifies an approach to faith, rather than a separate denomination. The distinguishing features of the Evangelical approach are:
• acceptance of the authority of Scripture over all other documents and traditions;

• affirmation that, suddenly or gradually, individuals are transformed ("reborn") into believers;

• belief that Jesus' death and resurrection were historical facts, necessary for our new life; and

• commitment to prayer, discipleship, and faithful service to wider humanity.

You will find people who believe and live these principles within every Christian church. You can't be a card-carrying Evangelical, because there is no agency issuing "cards." We have no one like the Pope to rule on who may call themselves Evangelicals, and of course no one can control what Evangelicals say. So if you hear a prominent "Evangelical" promoting, say, assassinations of foreign leaders, please know that the real Evangelicals in the audience are as uncomfortable with this as you are.
Evangelicals in the community
… evangelicals: a bit different, but not scary …
Surveys indicate that about 12 percent of Canadians are Protestant Evangelicals. So there's a good chance that you know some from work, hockey, or your kid's preschool. Will they seem any different? Probably not at first. In my experience Evangelicals are often kind, generous, and thoughtful people, but so are people of all backgrounds. There are apparently some statistical differences—polls indicate that compared to average Canadians, Evangelicals
• typically give more money to charity, even when gifts to churches are ignored,

• are less likely to smoke, swear, or get drunk,

• are more likely to volunteer their time, and

• tend to place a higher value on marriage and family.

None of these attributes suggest to me that Evangelicals are scary. Boring, some would say, but definitely not scary.
Social justice
Evangelicals have a long and honourable history of social activism, often as revisionists rather than conservatives. Here are some of my favourite examples of Evangelicals who had an impact on our world:

William Wilberforce, an Evangelical politician,
persuaded England to abolish the slave trade.
• William Wilberforce: an English member of parliament who single-handedly forced the abolition of the slave trade in 1807;

• The Clapham Sect: social activists from the same parish as Wilberforce who set up schools for impoverished children, improved the prisons, and pioneered labour laws and animal welfare laws;

• Tommy Douglas: former premier of Saskatchewan and recently voted the "greatest Canadian," who established universal health care in Canada;

• World Vision: global aid agency that brings crisis relief, feeds and educates children, builds self-sufficiency, and acts against social evils such as child prostitution, all without regard for race or religion;

• Jimmy Carter: former US president who works with "Habitat for Humanity" to build decent homes among the world's poorest people;

• Preston Manning: founder of the Reform Party who badgered the Liberals into eliminating the fiscal deficit;

• Brian McConaghy: RCMP scientist from Richmond who brought medical aid to children in the "Killing Fields" of Cambodia two years before the UN dared to become involved. More recently, he gathered key evidence in Cambodia leading to the first conviction under Canada's new child sex tourism law;

• Lillian To: Vancouverite and immigrant who established "SUCCESS" to help new immigrants adjust to living in Canada.

The environment
The Evangelical Environmental Network, in a widely-endorsed declaration, sums up our attitude to the environment as follows: "We urge individual Christians and churches to be centers of creation's care and renewal, both delighting in creation as God's gift, and enjoying it as God's provision, in ways which sustain and heal the damaged fabric of the creation which God has entrusted to us." This is the only approach to environmental issues that I have ever heard preached in church.
… morality does not revolve around human happiness …
Some fundamentalists (very few as far as I can tell) seem to use end-time prophecies as an excuse to neglect the environment, but that view is definitely not an Evangelical view.
Living from the heart
So what motivates Evangelicals to serve the world with such vigour? Are we, for example, reacting to a guilt trip laid on us by a manipulative church or vengeful God? More frighteningly would an Evangelical, given political power, visit the same guilt trip on you?
The answer is "no," but it is an interesting "no." In ancient times, and I think still in some religions, one tried to avoid God's wrath by following God's laws. Christians believe that this is a hopeless strategy—that we humans are predisposed to screw things up and break the laws. We believe instead that closeness to God comes as a free gift, when by faith we are ready to receive it. This is the "Good News" (in Greek evangelion) that gives our movement its name.
This means, logically, that our good deeds are of no value in "saving" us. So why do we do them? We do good deeds because we have fallen in love with a God of love, and when you love someone there is no greater joy than to please them.
It also means that Evangelicals believe very profoundly that you can't force a belief system or a morality onto others. Our God does not "force" us to believe or behave morally, but rather calls us to do so in love. You can expect that same model from Evangelical leaders—moral leadership based on influence rather than power politics.
Good and evil
I hope this hasn't given the impression that we take morality lightly—as you've probably noticed quite the opposite is true. Evangelicals believe that when a child is abused in Cambodia it is not an isolated tragedy, but rather an assault on the whole world. The grief and the pain ripple out around the globe and for generations forward in time.
The word we use for this is "evil," and it is the visible manifestation of an epic battle—a spiritual Lord of the Rings if you like—that, we believe, rages around our world. It is a battle best fought not with violence but rather with fierce love, patience, kindness, and self-control. And in this battle we do not see the "bad" people—the abusers, the cheaters, the destroyers—as the enemy, but rather as hostages of, and collaborators with, the enemy.
This view of good and evil makes moral relativism untenable for Evangelicals. Some choices, we would say, are inherently and non-negotiably wrong. It is just plain wrong to cheat on your wife even if "she'll never know so it can't hurt her." I mention this because some postmodernists, for example, believe that any talk of "right" and "wrong" is, well, wrong.
I suspect, however, that those who are frightened by Evangelical morality are less frightened by the prevailing environmental morality, which is equally committed to concepts of "right" and "wrong." Surely we can all agree that it is absolutely wrong to hunt a species to extinction. No argument of how "that species helps humanity" need be given, because morality does not revolve around human happiness.
… committed to excellence in biblical scholarship …
Environmentalists also understand the need to be careful of "small sins" which, integrated over time, can add up to great evil. Hiking on Vancouver Island years ago, I went up a forbidden trail to see the Carmanah Giant cedar tree. When a Park Warden stopped me on the way back, I explained that I was just one person, and I had been careful to stay on the path. "It's the path that's killing the tree!" the Ranger explained "What would happen if everyone ignored the trail signs?" He didn't give me a ticket, but I deserved one—not because I lacked concern for the trees but because, thinking I knew what the sign "really meant," I ignored what it plainly said.
High regard for the Bible
Evangelicals believe that humans are equipped to recognize what is right and what is wrong, and that the Bible provides essential "trail signs" to guide that instinct. More specifically, we believe in reading, discussing, and prayerfully considering the whole Bible, and allowing it to direct our morality. Very nasty things have been said and done by people who use segments of the Bible out of context to defend their pet projects.
Evangelicals are sometimes accused of "reading the Bible literally" as if we are blind to its subtleties. The truth is that Evangelicals place a very high value on excellence in biblical scholarship, as exemplified by the writings of CS Lewis. One of the world's leading Evangelical think-tanks, Regent College, is located in Vancouver and draws scholars from all over the world. So we read the Bible literally when appropriate, but we also know a metaphor when it hits us in the face.
Sexual morality
Some people seem to be threatened by Evangelicals' apparently "old fashioned" sexual morality. More disturbingly, some have suggested that we are hateful to people with alternative sexual orientations. On the contrary; I have seen only loving and respectful acceptance of all people at our churches.
One Sunday long ago, when I was a junior Sunday School coordinator, a man came up to me wearing a very nice blouse, skirt, medium-rise shoes, and blonde wig, and offered to help teach a class. I explained that we did not appoint teachers until they had attended our church for some time, and suggested other ministries that might be appropriate in the mean time. Over the coming months he attended regularly, sometimes as a woman and sometimes as a man, and I was very impressed with the complete absence of fuss within the congregation. We accepted him as he was, and trusted that God would make our church for him a place of both grace and transformation just as it had been for so many of us.
So I find the accusations of "hatred" bewildering. Cannot our liberal society just accept Evangelicals as an odd minority group that avoids sex except between husbands and wives? Wouldn't that be just like accepting vegans as an odd minority group that avoids foods derived from animals? Cannot vegans dislike meat and still love meat-eaters? Should our laws forbid vegans from suggesting that their diet is healthier or morally superior? If I go to a vegan home would it be right, when they politely refuse to prepare bacon and eggs for my breakfast, to accuse them of hating me?
And if they refuse to appoint me, a meat-eater, as an official vegan spokesman, can I accuse them of unfair discrimination?
Evangelicals in politics
I am very proud of the achievements of Evangelical politicians such as Wilberforce, Douglas, Carter, and Manning. They show that great good can be done by people with solid moral foundations and a willingness to serve their people in the political arena. They also show that Canadians should welcome, not fear, the contributions of Evangelicals on the political stage.

In a media poll, Evangelical Tommy Douglas
was identified as the "greatest Canadian"
for bringing universal health care to Canada.
1965 CP Photo
But what about Evangelical politicians who seem to be doing bad things? The first thing to remember is that no-one will ever perfectly exemplify Christian principles. Evangelical leaders struggle against many of the same failings and temptations as the rest of humanity, and of course they are not all intellectual giants and brilliant speakers. Furthermore, politics is a complicated dance of rhetoric and compromise, and I suspect there is often no way to move forward without in some way compromising ones ideals.
So if an "Evangelical" politician is making you squirm, take some comfort in knowing that if they were not Evangelical it might have been even worse. Or maybe, just maybe, you have something to learn from them.
It's also possible, of course, that they are just claiming to be Evangelical for political gain. Not that there is much gain to be had in Canadian politics. Polls indicate that in our last election, Evangelicals split their vote approximately evenly between the Liberal and Conservative parties, just as the rest of Canada did. I have never heard any political party endorsed by my church leaders.
Welcome in a liberal society
OK, so after all these words, I'm guessing that some of you still don't really like Evangelicals. Maybe I've convinced you that we're not all dangerous, but even in the bright light of day we don't quite match your colour-scheme. Here's my challenge: get over your fear—it's called xenophobia—and accept us as just one more quirky component of this country we call Canada.
We are a minority group accounting for about one eighth of all Canadians and holding some values that differ from the ruling elite. Should we be encouraged to get politically active? The answer is "yes" if Canada is a liberal democracy, and "no" if it is a liberal hegemony.
With the passage of the same-sex-marriage law, perhaps it is time for social liberals in Canada to accept that they are now the Establishment. As the Establishment they have the primary responsibility for defending Canada's commitment to tolerance and multi-culturalism—core elements of our identity. This means they need to shift from "fighting for their voice to be heard" to "fighting to ensure that other voices are heard."
Judging from some of the rhetoric we read in the media, this may require a bit of an adjustment.
Mike Davenport bases his observations on 25 years of membership in Vancouver Evangelical churches. He has a PhD in theoretical physics, works as a research scientist, and attends St. John's (Shaughnessy) Anglican Church with his family.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

You Are Romans
You are Romans.

Which book of the Bible are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

The Better Part of Valor?

So my hockey team (Ottawa Senators) has begun the season with a very strong 4-0 run. IN accumulating that reconrd they have beaten Montreal, Buffalo, and Toronto (twice). I am pretty proud of this team. I love the style of hockey it plays. Its a colourful team with a lot of persoality to it.

First there is the Spezz Dispenser (Jason Spezza) who is still very much a kid in the way he plays and grins at the camera. You also have Zdeno Chara, who is one of the very few elite defensemen who will actually fight when called out. The Dominator (Hasek) is always interesting just because you're always waiting to see what move he pulls to stop a puck. Alfredsson is a guy with a sense of humour.

Without a doubt though the most intriguing personality in the room for me is Razor Ray (or Sugar Ray) Emery. For a goalie, he gets into a lot of fights, and he makes no bones about that fact. He sems to actually enjoy the fights. Last night, a Montreal player, Ivanans, was yapping at him, and Emery claimed he hadn't realised it, but that it was probably a good thing since he "wouldn't want to hurt" Ivanans.

Now don't get me wrong, I am still a pacifist; I am just pointing out the humour and personality that lies behind comments like that. Ottawa has historically been about as colourful as white bread, so its nice to see these things happening.

That said, colourful is a lot easier to enjoy when your 4-0.

Now, throughout this post I have steadfastly avoided making comments about the other teams. I could have made many. But some peopel I know seem to think that it is inappropriate to say negative things (even if they are true) about another team. If I do I am trashing the team. Saying nothing is supposedly the better part of valour.

Let me say that I don't support real trash talk. I have been to enough game to know what trash talk really is a bout; personal comments against ones parentage, sexuality, race, ethnicity, etc. I would even include such vague comments as calling a player a bum or saying they can't play.

But I do believe I can make some comments, provided they are true, without them being considered trashing the team. There are players out there who are just slow skaters. They look lost on the ice and can't keep up with the pace. Simply pointing to these things is not trashing the team. There is nothing personal about the comment.

I believe in giving a team its due, both in the positive and the negative. That is the better part of valor.

Except where the Leafs are concerned. (wink)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Tonight I took my kids grocery shopping with me. I generally enjoy doing that, since it affords me some good, fun time with them. I usually make silly with them while shopping, simply because I recognise that grocery shopping for kids is not an incredibly fulfilling experience.

Usually the grocery run follows a pretty predictable course. We start at the deli counter where the kids get a slice of bologna, then get the milk and other dairy prodicts, followed by frozen things, and then bread at the bakery where the boys get a cookie. From there, its through the last few aisles to the checkout. Finally its off to the van , there to place the bagged groceries in preparation for the short drive home.

Tonight though, while I was loading the groceries into the van I found a couple of items of deli meat that didn't get rung through because they were under the flyer. Once I saw them I had to make a couple of decisions. The first was pretty easy: I was going to go back into the store and pay for the deli meat.

The second decision was harder. I debated how much to tell the boys. On the one hand I thought it would be a good chance to illustrate what you are supposed to do as a Christian in these situations. On the other hand I was conscious that I might be puffing myself up. In the end I decided that it was more important for the boys to get an example than to worry about whether I was being humble enough. Still, it was a bit of a dilemma for me.

Its a bit silly I know. But these are my boys and I reallt wonder about how I teach them to behave. Maybe too much, eh?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Sad Things

I have been doing some reading of various opinions about the Iraq War and the so-called war on terrorism. It isn't a pretty picture.

One thing that has become very disturbing is the propensity to play chicken with sin. Many tactics are being employed by the American military in order to extract information. Some Christians seem quite comfortable with this, apparently wanting to justify it with a certain "ends justifies the means" argument. They think it courageous to want to debate the finer points of what constitutes torture and what is justified in extracting information.

This of course runs exactly counter Jesus' teaching. Jesus did not commend to us a process of seeing how close we can get to the line without crossing it. Rather he told us to hold to his teaching. Any process that tries to see how we might go about doing what we feel justified in doing without being overtly disobedient is sophistry, and closer to the spirit of the Pharisee than to the Holy Spirit.

One of the most facile justifications is that "I am sorry but they started it." Now Americans will likely find my next statement repugnant because I am Canadian and 9/11 "didn't happen to me," but it must be said: Jesus said "turn the other cheek." He did not say we would be justified in hitting back. Love your enemies, pray for them, yes. Hit them back, no.

Some might wish to point to the scale of 9/11, but that really is a bogus argument. No one has ever been more justified for retaliating against personal attacks, for no one has suffered more or more severe ones, than God. God the Father sent God the Son to reconcile the world to Himself. In short the War on Iraq, as it is nothing more than a pretense for vengeance, and a false pretense at that (no WMD) cannot be supported by Christians.

Another simplistic reason for supporting the war is the "fact" that Christians make up a good size chunk of the armed forces. This is also false. We should support the troops in prayer for safety, that they will be proper agents of reconciliation, that they will not compromise their Christian witness. Should we support them in the sense of giving approval if they do breach their witness or do harm? No. If they sin then we need to simply say that they need to repent and offer them forgiveness and help so that they do not lapse into further sin.

It is also unfortunate that some try to make false comparisons in justifying torture. One blogger mentioned that we don't send surgeons to the Haag when they inflict pain and suffering as a means to an end. This argument is offered after pointing out the definition of torture involves coercion. Patients submit to surgery willingly.

This particular blogger has a habit of making this kind of argument. It involves going from a specific situation allegedly analogous to the one under discussion (ostensibly for "clarity") to a general principle. That general principle is justified and then is then used to justify, not the allegedly analogous situation, but the one under discussion. Of course if the analogous situation is not analogous at all, the argument does not work. As noted the blogger fails to provide a truly analogous situation.

IT is very sad that we actually do manage to live down to the caricatures that Muslim extremists have of us. If we were more Christlike, I have no doubt that things would be better.

No doubt some will say that Christians should expect to be hated. That is true, but they are to be hated for being Christlike. No one I think would argue that Muslims hate the US for its being an exceptionally Christian nation.