Wednesday, August 31, 2005

On the Hurricane

So, since I was moving this weekend, I was rather isolated from all of the Hurricane Katrina business. I've been trying to catch up the last few days, and . . . wow.

There's not much I can say that hasn't already been said by others. If you want some good reading on the subject, check out Michelle Malkin or Hugh Hewitt.


So, yes, I am back. Yes, I did promise that I would be posting more info very soon.

Yes, I am a liar.

Tomorrow is the start of orientation for the graduate program. For those unaware, I'll be starting work on my Ph.D. in Chemistry.

In any case, Friday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mark the days of our Inorganic, Physical, and Organic proficiency exams, respectively. Needless to say, I'll be busy studying until then.

So . . . until then . . .

Monday, August 29, 2005

I'm Back, Baby!

Well, the internet connection is up and running, at least.

Evanston is cool. I think I may enjoy myself here.

More postings to come later. I have a bunch of internet stuff to clean up.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Able Danger and Mohammed Atta

If you've been looking at the blogs, then this stuff with Able Danger is old news to you. If you rely on the MSM, then you're just seeing it pop up recently.

Either way, I'm not really going to say much about it. For Captain Ed and TKS, it's about all they can talk about lately. Their coverage = far superior to mine.

So, yeah . . . it's a really interesting story. The 9/11 commission missed out on some details, and it may be in part to members of the commission covering their behinds or choosing to leave out details.

As the story develops, it's really interesting. But honestly, I'm not that interested in it. If you want to know more, check out the blogs I've listed above.

Some Thoughts on Casualties in Times of War and Peace

John Hinderaker of the invaluable Powerline has a fantastic essay about the casualty numbers we constantly see in the news.

I can't recommend reading it enough.

Doing My Part

After defending some women from groping thugs, two men in Seattle recently returned from a year in Iraq were beaten severely by the thugs. After the men lost consciousness, the thugs continued to stomp on their heads. Both suffered broken jaws, and many other broken bones.

Now, the police need help capturing them.

Ace has issued a call for a blogswarm on this, and I've gotta do my part. I don't think I get any visitors from that part of the country, but it can't hurt to add my small voice to the mix.

If you know who these guys are, then contact the Seattle police.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Fetal Pain and Morality

Originally saw an AP article about this in the Belleville News-Democrat, but here's the CNN version.

Apparently, some researchers think they've determined that unborn fetuses (i.e. babies) cannot feel pain until late into the pregnancy. This claim has been controversial, as other researchers in this area disagree.

I may be a scientist, but I'm not well versed in the evidence in this area. I can't say who's right on the issue.

What I can say is that whether or not the child feels pain does not change the morality of the situation. Killing an unborn child is still wrong, regardless of the pain it feels.

Yes, talking about the child feeling pain is a good way to get a reaction out of someone, because the thought of causing anyone pain, much less your unborn child, makes us very uneasy. But granting that unborn children feel pain at X day of pregnancy only changes the abortion argument into, "Okay, then we'll do it humanely; give it morphine, then slice it into easily extractable pieces."

I repeat, for emphasis: Killing an unborn child is wrong, whether it feels pain or not.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Blast from the Past

So, with all of the craziness of life right now (I spent about 8 hours today just trying to move my old files over to my new computer . . . I have a lot of junk on there), I'm afraid that new posts are delayed for a while. In the meantime, I will probably be resurrecting some old posts from not so long ago. Mainly, this is an exercise in ego for me: "Hey, see how insightful I can be!" However . . . well, I don't know where else I can go with that, but at least this give you something to read. Enjoy!

This comes from a previous post entitled "Scripture Interprets Itself!"
Okay, this reeeeeeeally bugs me.

I know lots and lots of people like to take Psalm 46:10, where God is quoted as saying "Be still, and know that I am God." in the NIV, as saying, "God just wants you to have some quiet time with him, shutting out the outside world and being with him and doing quiet God-things."

Is this something Christians should do? Yes, spending time that is explicitly set aside for God, one on one, is a good thing. Does the Bible teach this? Absolutely. Does Psalm 46:10 teach this? No no no no no!!!

For crying out loud people, when we say what a verse means, we use CONTEXT! We don't just take a solitary verse (in this case, just a portion of a verse) and take its meaning verbatim, otherwise we would assume that Jesus is a door, a vine, a gate, and a shepherd. Literally.

Let's look at the FULL verse of Psalm 46:10, and for kicks and grins, let's use the New English Translation (

"He says, 'Stop your striving and recognize that I am God!I will be exalted over the nations! I will be exalted over the earth!'"

Interesting. The translator's notes indicate that yes, the literal hebrew translation of the first part of the verse is as it is in the NIV. But why does he translate it that way? Because this message is being delivered to the nations that are warring around them, and God's message is for them to trust in his protection and to cease their senseless warring. The translator gets this because it is a similar meaning given to other verses elsewhere in the Old Covenant. The best part is that you get this very meaning by examining the context of the entire psalm. I'll let you read the entire thing, but here's what you get: Nations war, drowning out the voice of God with the clash of their spears. But God speaks up for their silence. In the end, he will shatter their
swords and rend their shields, for He is the supreme, and they will learn to obey and trust in him.

Now does that have anything to do with being quiet and reading your bible? No. I hope this has been informative for those of you who don't let the bible speak for itself.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Benefits of Technology

It's about time the world saw some freaking changes. Quick little anecdote:

Yesterday, I set up my cable connection for the new apartment with Comcast. Hoorah, they'll have a guy out there sometime between 8AM and 12PM on Monday.

But here's the interesting thing: I set this up entirely online. Now, you might think, "Oh, big deal Hal, I do lots of stuff online." But normally, this might require an exchange of emails, or some sort of phone call. Nope.

After I set up everything I wanted for the account and agreed to the pricing, the website entered me into a java chat room with a sales representative so that she could perform a credit check, confirm the information/date, and answer any other questions I may have had.

Talk about using technology to its fullest. It was a clever way to deal with the issue, and quite frankly I loved it. The chat allowed me to do other things while actively dialoguing with her.

I hope more companies follow the path Comcast chose on this one. If they do, I see a bright future for using the internet for consumer commercial purposes.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Late Posting

What, you're surprised?

Lots happening lately. With less than a week before I move off to Evanston, life has been crazy-busy lately. You know, with the whole "trying to fit my entire life into a U-haul" thing.

Translation: I apologize for the lack of posting, but I can't promise when I'll be posting next.

If I dont' get around to it this week, I'll just add that I move on Friday, and my new internet connection should be up by Monday. I say should because we all know what happens when we rely on the timeliness of the cable company.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Another link!

Woo hoo!

Another website has linked to mine, and this time it's the Slublog!

Peter, thanks for the link, and I hope you and your readers enjoy the site.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Procrastination Report

Okay, I swear I'll be posting again very soon.

Yes, that's right. No reason to be suspicious . . .

In other news, my girlfriend and I celebrated our first year together this past Saturday. Anyone amazed that someone could put up with me for that long?

What, you are amazed? Jerks.

More posting soon. Just too much happening right now. I've two weeks before finally moving off to Evanston, and it's getting hectic.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

This Is My Body: Sidenote

If you've never read Centuri0n's blog, I highly recommend it. Very wise man.

Anyhow, he has a dialogue on another website regarding John 6 which some might find relevant to this topic. It orginally came from a CARM thread.

Happy reading.

This is My Body: Part III

Eventually, I will cover everything that has been written here so far. I want to. There just isn't enough time in the day to do it all at once.

In the last post, I reflected on Ryan's question as to whether Protestants long for a sacrament like the Catholic Eucharist. In this part, the question is:
Or, do most Protestants believe that even if Christ was really present in the Eucharist, that this wouldn't make any difference in their lives?

Now, this question I find fascinating, but probably for the wrong reasons. It does speak to a cynical skepticism on the part of many Protestants about the Eucharist. However, I think addressing such a thing is ultimately not useful. I think a better question would be:

Does it make any difference in the lives of Catholics if Christ is really present in the Eucharist?

This question I find much more meaningful on the subject.

Catholics should be the test subject as far as this goes. Around the world, every day, Catholics believe that they are partaking in a miracle that allows them to physically consume the re-presented sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ. Does it make any difference in their lives?

I suppose the question would first have to be answered, "What would we expect to see from those who partake in this?" On the one hand, there's the idea that a miraculous 'food' is being consumed. Shouldn't that have a miraculous effect? On the other hand, many people ate miraculous food, even from the hand of Jesus; four and five thousand at a time, as the Gospels record. Yet few of those people exhibited 'miraculous' effects. But then again, very few of them had any faith in Jesus.

Therein lies the crux.

Physical interaction with Jesus is a relatively meaningless thing. Take two examples of his healings: The bleeding woman who grabbed him in the crowd, and the centurion whose son was sick and dying. In one case, Jesus physically interacted with the person. In the other, Jesus didn't even see the sick person. Yet, both were healed. What was the common thread? The faith of those seeking the healing. Touching Jesus meant nothing without faith.

I suppose this is reflected in all teachings regarding Communion as well. To those without faith, it is just a light snack, transformed or no.

And now, to the point of the matter.

Previously, I wrote about Jesus saying, "If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. (Paraphrase)" If taken in connection with Catholic teaching on the subject it has often been interpretted "If you don't take part in a transformed Eucharist, you cannot obtain eternal life."

But does such an interpretation make sense in light of the requirement of faith? Not really. So then, is Jesus saying that one must partake in transformed Eucharist with faith, or is Jesus saying that one must have faith in him? My vote goes to the latter, particularly because to believe the former is to read much into the verse.

At some point in this series, I'm just going to have to break out the scripture verses and get into some nitty-gritty exegesis. Today is not the day.

Roberts v. NARAL

Powerline has an excellent post on the recent attack commercial put out by NARAL against John Roberts.

If you're interested in that sort of thing, I recommend reading it.

VG Troubles

Remember that comic I linked to last week? Apparently Scott, the man behind VG Cats, is being harrassed about it by a lawyer named Jack Thompson.

I recommend reading the entire thing. It's amusing, in an unfortunate way. From the way he behaves, I can definitely say I've known guys like Mr. Thompson all my life.

A lot of people are saying he's just a money/media attention junkie. I can't say anything about his motives because I don't know the guy. But I will agree that logic and reason seem to escape him. I mean, seriously . . . people were violent before video games. It's not like they needed them for motivation.

Anyhow, read the stuff. It's all very interesting.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Underappreciated Genius

I post from time to time about cartoonist Glenn McCoy. He's an incredibly talented, underappreciated artist. Unfortunately, he goes unrecognized by many because his political cartoons are right-leaning, not left.

Once again, he has hit the nail on the head. Enjoy.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

News and Announcements

The search is over.

Yes, though the Son of Man may have had no place to lay his head, I now have one.

I have found an apartment in Evanston. Yay!

That's all the important stuff for now. Ryan left a whole mess of comments on my posts regarding the Eucharist. You just can't create enough work for me, can you? Ha ha, just a joke. I want to get to those comments at some point. There was a lot of good stuff written in them, some stuff I have to disagree with, and some stuff that I'll need to clarify from before. First, however, I'd rather finish answering your original questions. Eventually, I'll cover all of the material.

This is looking to be a long series. That's okay; I don't read the news much right now, and it'll give me something to write about.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

This Is My Body: Part II

For those just joining us, my friend from college, Ryan, has left me with many questions in a discussion about the Eucharist. I'm devoting a full post to each question so as to answer them appropriately. In this installment, I cover this question from Ryan:
I wonder, are there Protestants out there who don't believe as Catholics do in the Eucharist, but yet long for the Eucharist or something like it?

Interesting question. Do Protestants long for a Eucharist-like sacrament?

I must admit, the idea is appealing if you think about it in general terms. It would represent the epitome of the mystical experience. You're not just interacting with God in some nebulous, undefinable way . . . you are experiencing God in a physical, tangible way.

That would be a mighty aid to faith. It would be the proof that every doubting Thomas seeks. It could be a mighty pillar of the faith, the same way that the apostles and the others who saw the resurrected Jesus had. "It's not just faith that Christ resurrected. I saw him die! And then I saw him live! I touched his resurrected body!" It would be the same in that way; "I don't just have this vague notion of 'faith' . . . I physically interact with God!"

Such a thing does seem desirable . . . at first.

But we really have to ask, would such a thing be a pillar or a crutch? Think Hebrews 11:1 . . . faith is our evidence for those things that we cannot verify tangibly. Would we be dependent on it for verification of our faith? Would we violate the teachings of Jesus, requiring "signs" and "miracles" in order to keep our faith? Would we worship not God, but the experience of the physical interaction with Him? Would we make it a test of exclusion or holiness to our brethren?

Too many questions. Such an idea seems attractive at first, but I almost would say that the desire for such a thing is a product of a weak faith.

The real question in my mind is, how do Catholics really know they are physically interacting with the Lord? But that is a question for another post.

First Link!

Talk about surprise of surprises . . . someone has decided to link to this site!

Tor, of Tor's Rants, has a link back to here. I can't be certain when he added it. Technorati says 72 days ago, but I can't verify that.

I'm not sure what brought him here in the first place, but curiosity consumes me as to why he created a link. I'm a fairly conservative Christian, while he is a libertarian Buddhist. Very interesting.

Welcome, Tor (and Tor's readers!). Thanks for the link, and I hope you enjoy what you read.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

This Is My Body: Part I

Ryan's first question:
I'm particularly interested in the personal affective response of Protestants, in particular you personally, to Catholic belief in Christ's real presence in the Eucharist. That I mean is, if Protestants were to suspend disbelief for a moment and ty to imagine that what Catholics believe about the Eucharist is true, what would Protestants be personally feeling and thinking about it? (I feel like I am explaining myself clumsily, yet I'm not sure how to say it better.)

I'm afraid I can't speak for Protestants, but only for this Protestant.

So, if I assumed the Eucharist to be true, what would my thoughts be?

Well, my first thought would be on reconciling scripture to it. There are parts of scripture which I believe contradict the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist. My first thought would be, "Can I interpret this in a way that doesn't break the rules of interpretation while supporting my new understanding of communion?" I know that answer probably betrays the part about suspending disbelief, but that's how my brain works.

Unfortunately, overcoming that barrier would be difficult. There are verses that make the Catholic doctrines regarding salvation and the Eucharist very difficult to reconcile together. For example:

John 6 is probably the central passage of discussion when it comes to Eucharistic debate. In verse 53, Jesus says, "I tell you the solemn truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves." (NET) Now, Catholics generally argue (at least, those that I've discussed the issue with) that the relevant passages of John 6 have Christ referring to the Eucharist. But this is a problem, given verse 53. Catholics also teach that Protestants are Christians, that they are part of the Church (separated, but still subject to her). Verse 53 seems to indicate, though, that if a person does not consume Christ, the Eucharist by Catholic interpretation, that a person can have no eternal life.

So then . . . how does a Protestant find salvation? Most of the major Protestant denominations reject the idea of transubstantiation (The Episcopal Church is the only one I can think of that does not). I have heard many Catholics give strange "loop-hole" type explanations as to how one can still be saved without partaking in transformed Eucharist, but this only seems to avoid Jesus telling us "the solemn truth."

What are my final thoughts on what I would think? Well, once I finished wrestling with doctrinal and denominational issues (for I would have to join a church that supported my newfound position), I'd be excited about the prospect of being able to have a literal, physical interaction with the living God, my very savior.

But I suppose that only further deepens the mystery.

This Is My Body: Introduction

Ryan has returned from camp, and he has also given me permission to talk straight about the Eucharist. Because this is such a complicated topic, very rich and diverse, I will be devoting individual posts to every one or two questions to keep the post size down.

My main desire is that my writings and any dialogue that results from it can be something glorifying to Christ, constructive in nature, and helpful to my brothers and sisters all around. Sensitive subjects such as this often have the terrible consequences of dividing believers and causing hurt where none is necessary. I'm devoted to finding God's truth, but causing unnecessary division in the body of Christ is not a worthy price. There's an Indian proverb that says that there is no use giving a man a rose after cutting off his nose. Even if I have the best arguments and the most brilliant insight into scripture, it will be worthless if I tear down my brother in bringing it to him, because the true beauty of it will never reach him.

Ryan wrote:
Thanks for taking the time and providing the forum to discuss our faiths. I'm looking forward to be challenged by your response. I may not be able to respond myself again for a few days - I've procrastinated with some of the mundane obligations of the "real world."

I feel for ya, man. There's a lot happening this week for me as well, so I'll get as far into this series as I can. We'll see how much I get out in the next few days.