Here's a link to an open letter by Pastor John Piper that serves as a good biblical reminder that there is an eternal chasm between Christians and Jews that will never be crossed except through the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross, and that this chasm is not the product of Protestant or Roman Catholic or Gentile anti-Semitism, but of the decree of God the Father that His Son is the only worthy sacrifice for our sins.
And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
Any efforts to bring about fraternal understanding and civic peace must stop short of saying there will ever be any true reconciliation between Jews and Christians outside of the Cross of Christ. And as this was a scandal back within the Roman Empire in the time of the Early Church, so it remains the principal scandal today causing such hostility towards Mr. Gibson's movie from the chattering classes.
We Christians love Jews enough to call them to faith in that Jew of Jews, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who became sin that we might become righteous, Who died that we might live, Who took on every burden of the Law that we might become lawless, saved by grace alone through faith alone.
Check this out, then meditate on these words from God:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
Then God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth"; and it was so. (Genesis 1:14,15)
Look at the heavens and see; And behold the clouds--they are higher than you. (Job 35:5)
O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! 2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength Because of Your adversaries, To make the enemy and the revengeful cease. 3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; 4 What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? (Psalm 8:1-4)
The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. 2 Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard. (Psalm 19:1-4)
The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; The world and all it contains, You have founded them. (Psalms 89:11)
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)
The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." (Psalm 14:1a)
Several men in my congregation have suffered from Tinnitus, one quite severely, and a recent article reviewing headphones for use with iPods directed me to this site. We parents should caution our children, young and old, to exercise great caution as they listen to their MP3s, particularly if they use ear buds or headphones.
With one hearing-impaired person in our household, I can say that hearing loss is no fun for those afflicted by it, but also a constant sadness to those who live with that person and are unable to communicate with him in any normal way.
About to leave on a week-long family reunion of the Bayly side of the family, I'm going to remind our daughter, Heather, mother of our two grandsons, that studies indicate sunburn in childhood is one of the strongest predictors of skin cancer later in life.
So don't let your little ones get sunburned this summer--slop them up with a good lotion.
This from the May 15, 2004 issue of Family Practice News:
I understand that the risk of developing melanoma is linked to sunburns in childhood and not in adulthood. Is this true?
This is true, and researchers in several studies have shown that sunburns early in life are associated with a greater risk of developing melanoma than sunburns later in life. ...It's also not just acute sunburns that are associated with the development of melanoma: Cumulative sun exposure also contributes to an individual's melanoma risk.
by David and Tim Bayly on November 5, 2004 - 10:14am
This weekend, World will be switching servers. Thus, beginning Friday evening and continuing until Monday morning, World's blogs will not be active.
Please be patient and, Lord willing, we'll see you Monday morning.
PS: This is a good opportunity to encourage you to support World financially. Subscribe to World, give gift subscriptions to others, send donations to World; encourage businesses, publishers, churches, schools, medical clinics, seminaries, and colleges to advertise in World. Do whatever you can to help World grow.
by David and Tim Bayly on November 10, 2004 - 3:20pm
Just got World's new address for updating blogs....
Here's a site for those who like projects in paper. Lots of free designs for you to download, print, then cut, paste and fold together. Everything from a school bus to the Globe Theater to the White House to the Empire State Building.
Take a picture and upload it if you build one of these.
by David and Tim Bayly on November 11, 2004 - 8:16am
Passed on by a friend...
With all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person which almost went unnoticed last week.
Larry LaPrise, the man who wrote "The Hokey Pokey," died peacefully at age 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in. And then the trouble started.
by David and Tim Bayly on December 2, 2004 - 6:22am
A couple weeks ago, God's World Publications hoped to upgrade the responsiveness and reliability of their web presence by changing servers. Still, at that time they hoped to avoid having to set up their own server. After a weekend of downtime while they switched servers and upgraded our blogging software, things seemed to be working better for a week and a half, or so.
Then this past week, the spam companies figured out how to blitz the comments sections of WorldMagBlogs with their crud and we were inundated with spam comments. If my memory serves, I'd guess I had to delete between fifty and seventy-five comments in one day on this blog alone.
So now, GWP is biting the bullet and switching to a proprietary server for their web presence. It should be up and running any time now, and may be already. Thanks for your patience during this time of transition.
This highlights, again, the need for us to support World financially. If you haven't given a gift subscription (or renewed your own) yet this year, do so now. Or, simply send a contribution to World out of gratitude for their work. Everyone needs encouragement, you know.
For now, the comments are open (and I just erased seven that were spam). So speak up and let us know your convictions, good readers.
This blog is now a year old and it's time to do some housekeeping, specifically regarding the anonymous posting of comments.
It often happens that comments are made by people wanting to hide both their name and E-mail address. Normally, we allow such comments to stand because the anonymity does not appear to be a matter of unwillingness on the part of the author to own up to his identity in the midst of accusing others of being in error, but rather a matter of convenience--usually the commenter does not want others on the internet to be able to call him, write him, or E-mail him at home.
We have sympathy for the second reason. Recently, Tim has been the recipient of attacks bad enough that his wife, Mary Lee, reported them to the police.
However, despite the risks involved, when it comes to confessing Christ in these evil days, it's imperative that our confession be personal, not anonymous. No matter how biblical our position, if we refuse to identify ourselves when we take that position we have not yet confessed our faith. In fact, a good case may be made that an anonymous confession of God's Truth in this evil day amounts to our being ashamed of our Lord and His words.
So we sign each piece and run the risk of being assaulted. And we exhort each of you to give us your real name and E-mail address when you make a comment. It is a sign of boldness and courage that strengthens all of us who believe. But if you refuse to give the name and E-mail address you are asked for in the comment posting box, normally we will not remove your comment.
There is one case, though, where you must use your real name--both first and last--as well as your real E-mail address, and that is when you make personal accusations against an author of either a comment or a blog post who has identified himself. In other words, you may not make anonymous accusations against people who have been faithful in identifying themselves.
For example, recently a reader who identifies himself as "Pensans" has been accusing Tim of being furious about Terri's death, and has said that two of Tim's recent posts are simply his way of lashing out at all those he blames for her death. He may be right. But he has not signed his real name and we are unwilling for him to shoot this arrow from behind a tree. So we just sent him the following E-mail:
Dear Mr. Pensans,
I write to find out if this E-mail address is honest. Also to ask you please to sign your comments with your real first and last name. You know this is requested in order to post comments on our blog. Many choose not to do so, and we don't ask them to change. In your case, though, since you are making personal accusations about my character, I do not ask you to cease making those accusations, but rather to make them personal on both ends--you should know my name and I should know yours; you should be able to write me personally and I should be able to write you personally.
So if you're willing to do this, I'd be grateful and you are welcome to continue your personal accusations. If you are not willing to do so, I will not allow you further posts.
Please notice that we're not asking Mr. Pensans to stop making personal accusations, but rather simply to identify himself. Scripture commands us to speak directly with one another when we are confronting sin. To make such accusations anonymously is, in most cases, sin.
To reassure our readers, though, let us quickly point out that, of 1,518 comments posted to this blog this past year, we're removed less than ten.
If you have suggestions or disagree with this policy, please do let us know. But please keep in mind that it is not our desire to stifle debate. Rather, we are asking that those making personal accusations identify themselves.
Last week I was speaking with a psychologist who specializes in a particular disorder quite common among children who have been adopted by healthy parents after spending their first years in abusive homes and/or orphanages. Such children typically are extremely resistant to authority and will go to almost any length to keep from being under the control of any adult, even the most benevolent ones.
Asking him what he does to help his clients, the good Doctor described an in-house treatment program he and his associates run three of four times a year that is aimed at working through these control issues with such children.
I asked him how he gets the children to obey them and he said they have various punishments, one of which is requiring the disobedient child to stand facing the wall for a long period of time until the child is ready to obey.
"But what if the child refuses?" I asked.
"Then we make him stand at the wall for an hour"
"But what if he refuses to do that?"
"Then we make him stand at the wall for as long as it takes, even several hours if necessary."
"And what if he refuses to face the wall at all?" I asked.
"Then we tell him to drop on the mat on the floor and lie there."
"But what if they won't do that, either?"
"Well," he responded, "I used to wrestle and I'll take him down if I have to--always while being videotaped and always with another counselor in the room."
Then he added, "And if we have to, our worst possible punishment (and he said this without a trace of a smile on his face--he was deadly serious) is for me to hold him immobilized on the mat on the floor while I sing Kum Bay Yah to him. Sometimes it takes fifty or sixty verses before they give in."
While he sat there looking at me with a confused look on his face, I roared with laughter. I knew there had to be some use for that song, although I was surprised he'd chosen Kum Bay Yah instead of It Only Takes a Spark.
Provocations, a Kierkegaard anthology, is one of my favorite bookstore finds of the last several years--the fruit of a casual glance-through of the local Barnes & Noble's philosophy section.
The book is a delight in multiple ways. If you enjoy good design, the book is a pleasure: light, clean typography, a beautiful matte cover (which appears to have changed recently), quality paper. Even better are the selections inside, ranging from aphorisms to short 2-3 page selections. The content is well chosen by editor Charles E. Moore.
So imagine my surprise a year ago to learn that the publisher, a collection of intentional Anabaptist communities known as Bruderhof, has made a PDF version of the book available free on the web here.
Check out Bruderhof's catalogue of over forty titles--many quite excellent--all available here for free as well.
The Bruderhof community began in Germany in the 1920s. Nazi persecution forced the Bruderhof to move to England and Paraguay in the 1930s, and later to New York. There are now thirteen Bruderhof communities in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, London, Frankfurt, and New South Wales (Australia).
Johann Christian Arnold, senior pastor of the Bruderhof has written an excellent book on marriage and sexuality available here. Arnold deals with a range of topics including dating, purity, homosexuality, divorce and remarriage, husband-wife roles in a book which is both solidly Biblical and eminently readable. Check it out. I don't think you'll be disappointed. And it has the same design characteristics as Provocations.
I have to admit that I find these web descriptions of Bruderhof communities appealing. Perhaps I'm a communist at heart....
Our blog is up and running again after two full days of being unable to post. All World's blogs went down, then the main blog came back but ours came back only partially.
I finally realized ours was the only remaining inoperative blog at WORLD this evening, so I played around with the template html until it would accept new posts and register comments on the main blog template page. Somehow, in the midst of someone working on WORLD's overall site our site's settings were changed so that the template no longer worked.
And to think I rejoiced at being done with html code when I gave up running the CBMW site years ago.
I keep the latest version of Dreamweaver on my computer, but it's just a sentimental nod to the past. I wouldn't even be able to afford it if Macromedia didn't give substantial non-profit discounts on its software--and now that Adobe's buying Macromedia even that's likely to stop.
Which reminds me, if you've been thinking of buying Macromedia products using their non-profit discounts, now's the time to do so. Adobe's pricing has always been absurd and who knows what will happen to the Macromedia discount once Adobe completes its purchase of the company. You can get Macromedia's Studio MX 2004 for $269 here. Dreamweaver alone, not included in the Studio, is $99 for non-profits. Act soon if you want this discount. I suspect it won't last.
There's no end to the thrills issuing from Anglicanism these days. The church which gave us a Druidic primate and more recently the wonderfully Pauline confrontation between African Bishop Peter Akinola and effeminate American Bishops Griswold and Robertson is again courting public breakdown as it seeks to reconcile with Rome over the worship of Mary.
Yesterday a joint Anglican-Roman Catholic working group of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) issued a report on the place of the Virgin Mary in Christian doctrine.
Surprise, surprise. Against the church where druids are welcome and homosexuality isn't a problem even Rome gets its moment in the victor's circle--that is, if Rome wants it. To the rest of us it seems Anglican virtue goes so cheap these days that whoever gains her loses more than he wins.
In a document called Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ, published yesterday in Seattle and to be released in London on Thursday, the study commission declared:
"We do not consider the practice of asking Mary and the saints to pray for us as communion-dividing ... we believe that there is no continuing theological reason for ecclesiastical division on these matters."
The report also says of Roman Catholic docrines of the Immaculate Conception of Mary and Mary's Assumption into Heaven that though they "have been seen as points which have separated Anglican and Catholic Churches...neither is contrary to scripture."
The AP quotes Anglican Archbishop Peter Carnley of Perth, Australia, co-chairman of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, as saying the Catholic dogmas concerning Mary are "consonant" with biblical teachings about hope and grace. "'For Anglicans, that old complaint that these dogmas were not provable by scripture will disappear,' Carnley said during a news conference with Seattle's Catholic Archbishop, Alexander Brunett."
Perhaps he's right--at least about Anglo-Catholic wing of the Anglican church which has long cast admiring glances at Rome. But despite the presence of some in Anglicanism who may embrace Maryolatry, even Bishop Carnley can't be as sanguine about the prospects of his report as he lets on. Surely he doesn't believe his neighboring diocese of Sydney will stop complaining about these dogmas. The Akinola-Jensen wing of Anglicanism will be no more happy to embrace Maryolatry than it was to embrace homosexuality.
This is a church divided against itself: Perth against Sydney, Africa against America.... In the middle stand Rowan Williams, N. T. Wright and a bunch of other Brits twisting their hankies into knots hoping to mediate these problems away. Won't happen, folks. This train's done left the station.
Friends: I've chosen and ordered the books you helped me select. I was a little fearful of idiosyncratic choices on this, so I decided to stick with your recommendations. I had thought of adding Ryle's Holiness, but in the end I didn't. What I did order was:
Toledo to Chicago after church Sunday night, June 5. Stayed the night with Mud in Bartlett. Off to the northwest 8 A.M. Monday morning.
Through southern Wisconsin and La Crosse. The crossing of the Missisippi from La Crosse, Wisconsin to Winona, Minnesota was stunning. Neither coast has anything riparian approaching the grandeur of the Mississippi. I woke up the kids near midnight on the way home just so they'd have two memories of crossing the Mississippi.
Southern Minnesota was a treat. Northern Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area is my favorite wilderness on earth. But though I attended college in St. Paul, southern Minnesota always struck me as a wasteland. It's not. In early summer it's Edenic. The farms are beautiful, the fields green, the towns quiet like the western suburbs of Chicago in the sixties.
By Monday night we were into mid-South Dakota--one of the five states I'd never visited up till then. Eastern South Dakota was beautiful, bucolic in its hills and fields. We crossed the Lower Brule River at dusk. I wish it had been light. The river was beautiful in twilight and I'd like to have seen its full splendor. Overnight in a great little motel in Kadoka, South Dakota.
The Corn Palace in Mitchell S.D. It's a wash which is a better visit--the Corn Palace or the Badlands.
Tuesday the Badlands were our first order of business. Yuck. Unimpressive. I'd seen National Geographic-like pictures of Badlands cliffs and valleys and assumed them to be 1) high cliffs and canyons ala southern Utah, and 2) made of rock. Unnh unnh. Bleached clay and puny. Not worth more than an hour, though we gave it two. I can't emphasize enough the great disparity between my mental picture of the Badlands and the reality. Stunningly different. I had thought them majestic, like Polychrome Pass in Denali or the red rock canyons of Southern Utah--worthy of an entire week. They're hardly worth an hour.
The family atop one of the Badlands' measly mountains of mud.
On to Mt. Rushmore. The mountain looks like the pictures. Probably the best part of the visit is Rushmore's visitor's center which has been constructed with an Albert Speer-worthy dramatic majesty--columns, pillars, grey granite all leading up to the mountaintop temple of the great men. It's worth stopping to see the public architecture and Rushmore itself is free. Of course, the National Park Service sold the parking concession to a private company, which means you pay about $8 to park--but, in the small mercies category, the parking ticket, the attendants assure you, is good for a year. Don't try to give it to a friend, however. They somehow capture the digits of your license plate automatically and print them on the ticket as you're approaching the booth.
Final stop on Tuesday: Jewel Cave National Monument. Jewel is the second longest cave system in the United States (care to guess the longest?) with approximately 150 miles of explored caverns. Our National Park membership got us a free twenty-minute tour down the elevator in the visitor's center to a large cavern 200 feet below ground. We also reserved places on a "Lantern Tour" of the cave at 4:30 P.M. The lantern tour took us in the only discovered entrance to the cave, down steep old staircases, through dark caverns, well into the cave. Fantastic trip. Highly recommended. Skip the Badlands and do Jewel Cave.
After Jewel, we hightailed it to Sheridan, Wyoming, before stopping for the night.
One of the joys of pastoring a new church is having the opportunity to establish new precedents in areas of previous difficulty. So, I'm delighted that at Christ the Word no one seeks to know the precise number of worshippers in the sanctuary each Sunday morning. It's easy enough to make an informed guess, but no one's saying, "Let's check the numbers and see how we're doing." Attendance is not unimportant--we want to grow and we praise God for His additions to our church. But concrete numbers reported each week tend to assume unwarranted importance. It's a sign of the faith of CTW's elder board that our elders do not ask about numbers. (And further, that they save finances for the end of elder meetings.)
Which brings me to...blogging. I've noticed that the availability of statistics in blogging leads almost inexorably to a desire for increased numbers. It's amazing how a ranking instrument such as Truth Laid Bear or Technorati or Site Meter almost automatically turns us into statistics-addicted influence seekers.
Blogging at Woodside Hospice during the murder of Terri Schiavo sent our numbers through the roof. And the influence of those numbers lingered afterward. I checked our numbers daily--sometimes hourly--for months afterward and I was always interested to see the stats of other blogs.
Not only are numbers important to bloggers, the more you blog the more you want other bloggers to link to your blog. The result is a self-referential series of quid pro quos wherein we mention other bloggers positively and link to them so that they will in turn mention and link to us.
More often than not, this circularity is accompanied by rather obsequious expressions of praise from smaller blogs to more prominent blogs in the apparent hope that the more prominent blog will link back to the lesser-known blog--a form of vassal-lord relationship in which the vassal renders fealty and honor and the lord in turn grants a place in the penbumbra of his blogging glory. In the end, the outcome is a self-reinforcing system of mutual admiration.
Because pride is a constant temptation to bloggers who pay attention to links and stats I've made certain decisions about my approach to this blog. First, I'm no longer checking our stats. If I don't know how few people view this blog each day, I'm not disappointed and my pride isn't bruised if we decline (and bruised pride is still sinful pride). Conversely, if I never see how many are reading the blog, I won't be as likely to derive pride from increased numbers.
Second, I'm no longer checking our referral logs. In the past I would find people who were linking to our blog from the referral logs and add them to our links. No longer. Now, if you want to be added to our links, just email us and let us check out your blog. If you like us we'll probably like you.
Finally, I would encourage bloggers who read this to be on guard against the potential for pride and favoritism in their own blogging life. Blogs can be tools for God's Kingdom, but back-scratching and numbers-seeking is never the path to God's pleasure, no matter how many wise, good things we say along the way.
Monday--Chicago to Kadoka, SD. Fun. Great scenery in southern MN and eastern SD. Fertile, flowing hills, broad rivers. Beautifully bucolic.
Tuesday--Kadoka, SD, to Sheridan, WY. Badlands--waste of time, better in photos than real life. Mt. Rushmore--great public architecture, mediocre otherwise. Jewel Cave--wonderful and unique experience.
Wednesday morning we set out from Sheridan for Yellowstone, arriving there in the late afternoon after a useless stop at the Sierra Trading Post outlet store in Sheridan. I was excited to see the STP billboards on the outskirts of Sheridan, but though the store was large and attractive, prices and selection were disappointing. Give it a pass. I've wanted to visit a Sierra Trading Post store ever since I started getting their catolog years ago, but it didn't live up to my expectations. LL Bean's factory store in Freeport is even more fun than its catalog. I suspect STP's web site and catalogs are better than their outlets.
We arrived in Yellowstone to temperatures in the low 40s and nightly snow. This made our visit less enjoyable that it might otherwise have proven, though Yellowstone in the snow was still worth the trip.
Upon leaving Yellowstone we headed south to our final destination of Breckenridge, where we had rented a condo for our second week of vacation.
The trip out of Yellowstone wended through the Grand Teton National Park. The Grand Tetons are rugged, grand mountains. Pure power mountains--all angles, sharpness and snow.
Snake River south of the Grand Tetons
South of Grand Teton National Park we passed through Jackson, Wyoming, a booming town which gives the impression of being at one and the same time, unspoiled, and on the cusp of overdevelopment. The Snake River, heading south through Jackson, was our companion for several hours. If I were to choose one place in the west for a vacation home, it might be along the Snake River.
Playing in the Snake
South of Jackson we made a wrong turn and continued southwest for thirty miles along the Snake River instead of heading southeast toward Rock Springs. Our choice, when I realized my mistake, was between continuing almost to Salt Lake City where we would encounter an interstate or retracing our path. It was no sacrifice to head back up the thirty miles of Snake River roadside.
Watching for prairie dogs near Jackson
Once we were back on track at Hoback Junction, scenery turned surly. Southwest Wyoming is high desert: lots of shrub, oil wells and brown. Not very attractive.
After stopping Friday night in Rock Springs, we continued to our cabin in Breckenridge the next day.
I own a copy of the Graebner translation of Luther's Commentary on Galatians published by Zondervan in the 1930s and available online at numerous sites, including CCEL.
But I'm looking for the best English translation out there. I'd rather it were a contemporary translation, so that tends to rule out the Kregel edition, leaving a modern language edition by Revell (translated, I believe, by Stuart Briscoe) and the Crossway Classic Commentary series version which gives no information about translator.
There's also an expensive recent version published by Sovereign Grace Publishers which, like the Crossway version, gives no clue as to translator, type of abridgement, etc.
If anyone has personal knowledge of the three modern editions (or thoughts on the modern translations vs. the Kregel edition, assuming you've compared them) I would appreciate receiving them.
A salutary post on Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago at Jack's Pipe.
The comparison to Hell is thought-provoking.
In future centuries, should Christ tarry, Solzhenitsyn will be viewed as one of the very few who looked out on the 20th century with unblinkered gaze. Few of our time have understood the world as keenly as Solzhenitsyn.
Yet, for all the respect he receives today, he may as well be dead. In fact, I'll bet many who read this don't know for certain whether he's still alive (he is, living in Russia again after years of exile in America).
I see that I've permanently erased at least one comment in the process of cleaning out a spam torrent here. The last day has seen a blizzard of spam comments on our blog--over 200--and I got careless in removing them.
Sorry if your comment was deleted. I didn't intend to remove non-spam comments.
I leave in several hours for Guadalajara, Mexico, with a group of 20 from Christ the Word. We'll be doing construction and medical work in partnership with a church in Santa Ana we've become allied with pastored by Gonzalo Garcia, a wonderful servant of the Lord in the Mexican Presbyterian Church.
Tim's in Africa. I'll be in Mexico. I don't know what the frequency of posts will be.
by David and Tim Bayly on August 1, 2005 - 10:18am
In the midst of a querulous week prompted, partially, by a nasty something gripping my innards, I posted about Samaritan Ministries in an uncharitably harsh manner.
I've wondered whether to take the post down or leave it. In the end, I leave it so that I don't appear to be covering my mistakes. You may want to read the charitable response of one of the Samaritan Ministries team in the comments to my post below.
It seems to me from further reading about Samaritan Ministries that they are:
1) Serving a cross-section of the Christian world that routinely struggles to find affordable health coverage (ministry personnel, missionaries, etc.)
2) Doing so with minimal overhead. If my estimates based on available public records are correct, Samaritan Ministries overhead is somewhere between 5-10 percent of the "givings" it superintends. I suspect this is far less than a typical health insurance program.
3) Providing a reliable, low-cost means of medical coverage to many who might otherwise have none.
I appreciate the difficulty of covering vastly expensive treatments for chronic conditions. Samaritan Ministries sets criteria for entry and limits payments for preexisting conditions for the same reason many other health coverage plans do the same. Adverse selection ended the PCA's health insurance plan. Samaritan ministries, if it wishes to stay solvent, must avoid the danger of becoming a health coverage plan of last resort.
Without saying more about Samaritan Ministries, Christian responses to the cost of health care in America cannot forego coverage of the poorest and most helpless physically of our brothers and sisters. Perhaps the answer is not a revision of the insurance/payer system, but a parallel Christian health care network. Seem impossible? It wasn't in the 1800s. The lingering presence of so many St. Vincents and St. Lukes and Presbyterian medical centers in America is proof of how thorough-going the Church's commmitment to helping the poor obtain medical care was in America's recent past.
Today's edition of the local paper contains the story of the nearby United Methodist pastor, Larry Keeler, whose church will celebrate a "Blessing of the Animals" in tomorrow's morning service.
The reason for the service is to celebrate animals as one of God's gifts to humanity, the pastor said.
"I think God gave us creatures as part of the good creation, as part of the blessing and providence of God. Their lives are sacred and their lives are meaningful," Mr. Keeler said.
He is using Genesis, Chapter 9, for his sermon text, referring to God's covenant with Noah and "every living creature," and expects the altar to look a bit like Noah's Ark.
In addition to bringing live animals, Mr. Keeler asked members of his church, which averages about 120 in Sunday morning attendance, to bring in photos of their pets to prepare a slide-show presentation. He also said he will bless people's favorite stuffed animals if they bring them to church.
By performing a blessing on the creatures, Mr. Keeler said he is not addressing the question of whether animals have souls that live forever, or that their owners will someday meet their dear departed pets in heaven.
"That can be a touchy question as a pastoral issue, particularly when you're dealing with children," he said. "They wonder what's up with animals and if animals are going to heaven. ... Who can tell what is in the mind of God about animals? All I know is He loves them and provides them to us as a blessing."
What tripe men fall into when they lose sight of Christ. I wonder if next week Mr. Keeler have a blessing of the marital beds with sheets draped over the altar? What about a blessing of the bank accounts, with deposit slips and billfolds on the altar? How many of God's blessings will we devote ourselves to when we lost sight of God's great blessing, the Lord Jesus Christ?
The weakness of American Protestantism is reflected in the wimpiness of her pastors. Why shouldn't women be pastors when so many male pastors are women?
Probably my favorite CD purchase of the last fifteen years was a chance purchase via a forgotten record club of The American Vocalist by the Boston Camerata conducted by Joel Cohen.
I love religious vocal music. As a young Christian in the 80s I would put the King's College Choir singing the Psalms of David on my turntable and listen with chills running down my spine.
But it's rare to find music that is both totally new to you and wonderful at the same time. That's what this album proved to be. Though the tunes are themselves beautifully simple with great harmonies, the words are the key to this album. The powerful words of Christian truth from the late 1700s through late 1800s in these songs will stun you. Believe it or not, this was popular Christian music of the day.
Here are the words to the initial recording on the CD. Also, here is a Windows Media Audio version of the song to convince you to buy the album.
Ah, guilty sinner, ruined by transgression,
What shall thy doom be, when, arrayed in terror,
God shall command thee, covered with pollution,
Up to the Judgement, Up to the Judgement!
Wilt thou escape from his omniscient notice?
Fly to the caverns, seek anhihilation?
Vain thy presumption, justice still shall triumph,
In thy destruction, In thy destruction!
Stop, thoughtless sinner, stop a while and ponder,
'Ere death arrest thee, and the Judge in vengeance,
Hurl from His presence, thine affrightened spirit,
Swift to perdition, swift to perdition!
Come, then, poor sinner, come away this moment,
Just as you are, but come with heart relenting.
Come to the fountain, open for the guilty,
Jesus invites you, Jesus invites you!
Oh! guilty sinner, hear the voice of warning,
Fly to the Saviour, and embrace His pardon.
So shall your spirits meet, with joy triumphant,
Death and the judgement, death and the judgement!
Apparently, The Amercian Vocalist CD is no longer in print. You can find it used on Amazon here.
The Boston Camerata and Joel Cohen followed up The American Vocalist with a similar offering called Trav'ling Home. It's equally worthy of your attention. It's in print and can also be found at Amazon.
For more on The American Vocalist, the 1800s hymnal from which most of these songs are taken, visit this site where both MIDI files and PDF songsheets of American Vocalist hymns are available.
by David and Tim Bayly on August 9, 2005 - 10:21am
It's sometimes said that analogy is the lowest form of argument. Perhaps. But in my view, a snide (sic) is the lowest form of argument. Heaven preserve me from the egotism of unwarranted (sic)s in argument against others and forgive me for the (sic)s of my past.
Give a man a hammer and every problem becomes a nail.
Give a man a new pejorative term and every person he disagrees with gets labeled with it.
Thus, at Christ the Word, we no longer permit the accusation "gnostic" to be voiced in our office. The word is outlawed, as is "Donatist" and one or two others. Why? Because the minute a young theologian learns such words, they become his term of condemnation for every opponent.
Labeling is not the same as countering. Those who bandy about newly-acquired terms such as "gnosticism" and "fideism" would do better to stop the pejoratives and engage the issue. Labels win arguments only among the credulous.
I'm reminded of the old joke about prisoners imprisoned together so long they simply numbered their jokes and called out the numbers: "12," "18," "57...."
"Yo, you gnostic! You freakin' fideist." Such labeling often sounds cool to sophomores but it's evasion of the polemical process.
by David and Tim Bayly on August 12, 2005 - 6:39am
Although Mary Lee, Hannah, Taylor and I arrived back in the States a week ago, I'm still not up to speed for several reasons. First, my computer is in London. We had a couple days in London on the way home and I went in the Apple store and talked with them about replacing my laptop's defective screen. Even though my Powerbook is out of warranty, they said they'd replace the screen and ship the computer back to me here in the States at no charge.
When I asked whether I'd get the same treatment in the US, they couldn't say. So I had them do the work and am waiting for my laptop's return.
By the way, I am delighted with the treatment I received from Apple there in London. It's a huge store and I was referred to the Assistant Manager of the store immediately, who also was the man who said the repair and shipping would be free. (There are reasons I won't bother going into here why Apple might be inclined to extend my warranty.)
Second, there is a lot of work waiting here at the church after being gone for over a month. I'm happy to say that it's a great joy to be back in the yoke of pastoral ministry. I missed our loved ones here, and not only our children and their spouses. What love there is within our fellowship and how blessed we are to have such a church to serve! Only a handful of things are as tender as brothers and sisters dwelling together in unity.
Since this has been somewhat of a personal post, let me share a few things from our family, two for your praise and one your prayer.
by David and Tim Bayly on August 20, 2005 - 3:36pm
Most blogs are more influential in theory than fact--with several important exceptions.
PowerLine, one of my favorite non-Christian blogs, is as influential as many local newspapers. A large portion of PowerLine's influence is due to tone. You read it and think it's written by responsible adults who have more going on in life than their blog. And the range of topics covered is attractive. PowerLine's authors have eclectic interests. They write with authority and they're not shrill, even when writing on their hobbyhorses.
On the Christian end of the blogging world, I suspect few blogs are more effective than BatesLine.
Michael Bates, author of BatesLine, is an MIT grad and PCA member in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His blog is filled with the nitty gritty of political life in Tulsa. And his blog's influence is clearly substantial. The Tulsa World now has daily competition in BatesLine and entrenched local powers have a check on their influence. Michael is allied with a Christian talk show host in Tulsa; together they've become a force to be reckoned with.
I'm not sure any other major American city has seen a blog become more influential in local political life than BatesLine has become in Tulsa.
But Michael's writing extends beyond Tulsa. He writes on pro-life issues: we became acquainted through his coverage of the court-ordered killing of Terri Schiavo. He's had recent posts on topics as varied as the Dwight Tilley Band and the new look of McDonalds restaurants....
Finally, let me join Michael and BatesLine in commending to you this post by Joel Martin of On the Other Foot who has a neat post remembering his godly grandmother.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 2, 2005 - 6:13am
A fascinating article on worldwide reaction to Katrina on Reuters this morning.
Among the reactions:
"I am absolutely disgusted. After the tsunami our people, even the ones who lost everything, wanted to help the others who were suffering," said Sajeewa Chinthaka, 36, as he watched a cricket match in Colombo, Sri Lanka. "Not a single tourist caught in the tsunami was mugged. Now with all this happening in the U.S. we can easily see where the civilized part of the world's population is."
Whoa. I suspect many of us have had similar thoughts.
A female employee at a multinational firm in South Korea said it may have been no accident the U.S. was hit. "Maybe it was punishment for what it did to Iraq, which has a man-made disaster, not a natural disaster," said the woman, who did not want to be named as she has an American manager. "A lot of the people I work with think this way. We spoke about it just the other day," she said.
In Luxembourg, apparently, the sins punished by Katrina are those of a weak state:
Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, in a veiled criticism of U.S. political thought, said the disaster showed the need for a strong state that could help poor people. "You see in this example that even in the 21st century you need the state, a good functioning state, and I hope that for all these people, these poor people, that the Americans will do their best," he told reporters at a European Union meeting.
According to Liberation, the leftist French paper, Katrina is a cause for schadenfreude by Osama bin Laden:
"A modern metropolis sinking in water and into anarchy -- it is a really cruel spectacle for a champion of security like Bush... bin Laden, nice and dry in his hideaway, must be killing himself laughing."
...though one suspects the schadenfreude is as much in the editorial offices of Liberation as in bin Laden's hideaway.
Meanwhile, few stop to consider what God has said:
(Isaiah 45:6b-7, NASB95)
"I am the Lord, and there is no other, The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these."
by David and Tim Bayly on September 9, 2005 - 2:15pm
People are grumping about the design for the memorial to the passengers of Flight 93, the plane that crashed in southwestern Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001. Apparently, the design--entitled "The Crescent of Embrace"--strikes some as too Islamic. Or perhaps it looks too much like the communist sickle. I don't quite grasp the complaint, but it's clearly a liberal plot in the eyes of some....
To my mind, it's attractive. I think people are going a bit overboard in their critism. Sometimes a crescent is just a crescent.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 10, 2005 - 11:55am
During our month's travels, one hit with both parents and children was what was called "The Roof Tour" at Winchester Cathedral. The four of us had two guides (pic 2) who took us on a two-hour labyrinthine walk through every nook and cranny (pic 5) above the cathedral, including the bell room (pic 3), the ringing chamber (pic 4), across a catwalk above the length of the nave (pic 6), and onto the roof itself (pic 1).
by David and Tim Bayly on September 10, 2005 - 3:40pm
The latest issue of The New Yorker has a very funny cartoon. Two dogs are talking with one another and one says to the other,
I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless incessant barking.
Well, our family ate out on the deck tonight, chicken shish-ka-bobs. At the end of the meal Hannah and I saw the moon peeping through the branches of the tree but we didn't bark. We howled. It was a lovely duet.
Anyhow, think about subscribing to The New Yorker. It's much improved since its nadir under Tina Brown.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 12, 2005 - 11:12am
Anyone out there old enough to remember how Maya Lin's design for the Vietnam Memorial in Washington was initially pilloried and ridiculed?
Veterans complained that it was a gash in the ground, a mockery of the sacrifices of those who died, that Lin was expressing shame for the war by digging into the dirt. That's why there are those conventional-looking memorial statues at the end of the wall--to placate angry veterans and conservatives.
Does anyone view the Vietnam Wall as a shameful gash in the ground today?
Let's be quiet for a moment about Flight 93's proposed memorial and simply consider it pragmatically as memorial design on the ground, not some archetypal statement to the sky.
Honestly, I think the shrill shouting should end. It's a good design.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 12, 2005 - 4:16pm
The gold standard for country music movies is Coal Miner's Daughter starring Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn. In fact, in a genre which includes Tender Mercies, it might be accurate to say that the gold standard for movies are country music flicks. Two better movies may exist than these two, but unless one of them's Dr. Strangelove, I don't know what they'd be.
So the bar is rather high for this movie due out in mid-November, but if any country musician can sustain a movie the quality of Coal Miner's Daughter, it's Johnny Cash.
If you haven't heard Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Around," on his 2002 release, American IV: The Man Comes Around, you haven't heard the greatest song of the decade and perhaps one of the greatest of all time. (Thanks, Matt M.)
by David and Tim Bayly on September 12, 2005 - 6:02pm
It's nearing midnight, bedtime.
So as a little treat, here's a link to the TC2K, described this way in Engadget:
...the TC2K may be as vindicating and satisfying experience as we can imagine. Do Not Call Registry be damned, the TC2K identifies incoming telemarketer calls and using caller ID (or more specifically, their lack thereof), and is programmed to ensnare the caller in a software-driven conversation in order to keep them on the line as long as possible--the theory is that by decreasing their overall productivity, and telemarketing becomes an undesirable business proposition. But for your trouble you get something out of the deal, too--a tidy recording of the "conversation," which we might call both painful and hilarious.
The TC2K requires computer equipped with a modem capable of caller recognition.
Here's an animation of an actual TC2K conversation. My kids and I rolled on the floor listening to it earlier today.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 13, 2005 - 7:51pm
Why do I think Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Around" one of the best rock songs ever?
Because, like the music on Bob Dylan's Slow Train Coming, Saved and Shot of Love albums, this song has one of the greatest song writers of our time at the apex of his powers writing in praise of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Better even than Dylan, this is a man closing out his race...
by David and Tim Bayly on September 15, 2005 - 4:01pm
Elvis Presley.........Johnny Cash Husker Du.............The Ramones Rolling Stones........The Who Styx..................Cheap Trick Pink Floyd............Moody Blues Foreigner.............Boston Sting.................Elvis Costello Jefferson Starship....Jefferson Airplane Rod Stewart...........Eric Clapton Jim Morrison..........Jimmy Hendrix John Lennon...........Paul McCartney Jackson Brown.........Neil Young Simon & Garfunkel.....Beach Boys Dino..................Liberace Talking Heads.........Television U2....................The Clash Blondie...............Patti Smith Linda Ronstadt........Loretta Lynn
by David and Tim Bayly on September 15, 2005 - 7:16pm
Yahoo Music at $5/month for a year-long subscription is a great value. They don't have a deep collection of classical music. Nor do they carry the Beatles and one or two other top rock and roll bands. But they have, a casual check just revealed, Bruce Springsteen, the Beach Boys, Johnny Cash, the Who and Pink Floyd.
For $5/month you get unlimited downloads of all music carried by the site. Songs expire and can no longer be played when your subscription is up, and they're encoded in the Plays-for-Sure Windows Media Audio format--which means you can't play them on an Ipod or an non-Plays-for-Sure MP3 player.
I bought a ROKU music server and attached it to my downstairs stereo. With the complementary software attached to my upstairs computer I can run all my downloaded Yahoo music, plus my ripped CDs through the ROKU's wifi connection to the PC. The ROKU has a hierarchical menu system much like an MP3 player's which allows you choose music from a remote computer and place it in your playlist.
Though Yahoo Music is somewhat sketchy on the classical end, it has a lot of techno and rave music. I sort of like listening to remixed techno versions of classical hits while working on sermons. Several years ago I bought a dance-party Christmas CD at Best Buy for $2 on the cutout rack. It's a blast. You won't believe how fun it is playing "I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In" at gazoomba decibels with a thumping techno bass beat pouring out the subwoofer and shaking the whole house (or car, or church). It beats the Vienna Boys Choir hands down for wrapping presents on Christmas Eve to. Imagine Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas albums on steroids.... Every once in a while I even shout like Howard Dean in Iowa while listening.
Finally, if you're only interested in classical and sacred...well, they do have modern "Christian" music. More to the point, I checked for the Kings College Choir's "Psalms of David" earlier this week. Sure enough, there it was! I downloaded it eagerly, remembering my early days as a Christian when I'd put it on after going for a walk to pray in the evening. I'd listen with chills running down my back.