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“We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”

The man responsible for those words is Sir Winston Churchill, a man for his times.  Notice he says “those who would do us harm,” not those who did us harm.  Many think we need a man like Sir Winston Churchill who understands our times and acts in light of that reality.

We have an interesting political battle going on as we have released our interrogation methods, yet refuse to put them into the context of the information received or circumstances in which they are used.  This unfairly politicizes the issue- trying to make things black and white when they are a little less so.

This quote from Sir Winston is at the beginning of Vince Flynn’s latest Mitch Rapp novel, Extreme Measures.   It is a novel for these times, trying to explain why it is important to have such rough men ready, for there are despicable men who hide behind religion to exploit others and protect themselves as they wage a war of terror on civilians.

Yes, Vince has found a formula that works (though he deviates from it at the very end of this novel), but I enjoy his books.  I do want that man out there protecting my family from those who would harm them simply because they live in America.

As Christians we can often confuse the issues, misapply Scripture and really be muddle headed about these issues.  Emotions can cloud the issue on both sides.

First, there is a difference in Scripture between the response of an individual to unjustice, and the response of a government.  We see that clearly in Romans 12 – 13.  The individual is not to seek revenge, but entrust such justice to God.  The government, on the other hand, bears the sword to punish evildoers.

Turning the other cheek is about insult, and again is the individual forsaking retribution.  This would not rule out self-defense should one want to physically hurt you.  Context is key.

We see something of a wartime ethic in Scripture.  Both the midwives and Rahab were blessed for deceiving those who sought to perpetrate evil.  Truth is not a black and white issue- sometimes we have to consider what will be done with the truth.  Will they use the truth to rob, steal or kill?  The context of “speaking the truth in love” is the covenant community moving toward maturity.  You can lovingly speak the truth to an evil person by calling their actions what they are, while refusing to divulge the information they want.

But we have some positive encouragements about the righteous man:

4

Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law resist them.  Proverbs 28(NIV)

The righteous man/person resists the wicked.  He does not stick his head in the sand and let them commit great sins against others.  This is because God is seen as the One who defends the defenseless.  As those being renewed in God’s image, we are to act like Him.  We are to defend the defenseless, protect the poor, care for the widows and orphans.

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I was biting my nails, metaphorically, during the final minutes of last night’s Celtics-Magic game 4 as it came down to the wire.  CavWife tried to tell me something, but I reminded her- last minute of an important playoff game.  Considering that we didn’t watch most of the game, I thought I wasn’t asking too much.

I was surprised that Paul Pierce didn’t force the last shot, choosing instead to pass off to Big Baby Davis, who was the only Celtic to hit a FG in the last 6 minutes of game time.  He drained it, and in his exuberance raced down the sideline, bumping into a ref, and then into a young courtside fan who was close to the action.

I hope I am never this kind of parent:

Orlando Magic fan Ernest Provetti, whose son, 12-year-old Nicholas, was nearly run over by Glen Davis after his buzzer-beating, game-winning shot last night, is demanding an apology from the Celtics forward.

According to a report at Orlando Sentinel.com, Provetti sent an e-mail to the NBA League office this morning, saying that Davis crossed the line and embarrassed his son. Provetti said his son had to dive into his courtside seat to get out of the way, though that does not appear to be the case in the video.

In the e-mail, Provetti said Davis conducted himself like a “raging animal with no regard for fans’ personal safety.”

In a telephone interview with the Sentinel, Provetti said, “How do you like to be a 12-year-old and see a raging lunatic coming at you?”

He said noted that Davis should never have been so close to the fans in the front row.

Apparently this man has never seen an NBA.  It’s the NBA: Stuff Happens, including players diving for balls, and celebrating significant last-second victories.

But, this man’s son is embarrassed.  CavWife notes that is a common emotion for 12 year-olds.  This adult is trying to teach his son the wrong lesson.  The world will not bend to our embarrassment, it does not revolve around us.  Yet, this guy is trying to make it all about his son.  E-mails to the NBA office?  Demands????

Nor is an excited, happy, delighted man who accomplishes something he has yet to do qualify as a “raving lunatic.”  I suspect he has the wrong “raving lunatic”.  This parent is the one acting irrationally.  Davis was not angry, violent or dangerous.  No harm was intended to his son- even embarrassment.

When you sit courtside, the action may get a bit too close for comfort.  If you can’t handle that- don’t sit there and put your son “at risk”.  But a good parent will teach his son to enjoy the game, remember that the unexpected can happen, and that you’re on national TV so don’t sweat it.  Teach him to have fun rather than be self-conscious.  Teach him to calcuate risk and act accordingly.  In short- teach him about being a man.

Oh, and may the media should pursue such silly stories….

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I have not been able to surf much lately.  So I found this interesting tidbit on Dr. Mohler’s blog.  He quotes from Stephen Prothero, a Professor of Religion at Boston University (NCAA Hockey champs, my friends).

The late spate of piracy off the coast of Somalia has been analyzed so far almost entirely in political and economic terms: Somalia is lawless and impoverished, so Somali men are taking world trade for a ride. Religion comes up in this analysis only in terms of fears about potential ties between Somali pirates and Islamist groups such as al Qaeda and al Shabab.

But according to Boston University’s World Religion Database, the Somali population is 99% Muslim, and the last time the U.S. was menaced by piracy, in the late 18th century, the so-called Barbary pirates of north Africa also operated out of Muslim havens. For those who know something about Muhammad and the origins of Islam, more than coincidence is at work: Religion, it turns out, should be factored into the piracy problem.

Mohler argues that the pirates are just doing what Islam has done from the beginning as it spread from Arabia.  They are just doing it on water instead of land.  Could it be that the media is neglecting this fact, lest we see that the problem is a particular religion (people like blaming religion in general- but this particular seems central to many of the international problems)?  President Obama, like President Clinton, sees all this in terms of crime- not terror.  But the seeds of piracy may be the same as those for militant Islam, just manifested in a slightly different way.  Instead of destroying the West, they seek to plunder the West.  But their religion provides the basis for both sets of actions.  They believe they have a divine right, even obligation, to do so.  There is just no reasoning with people with such a mindset.  Or, it seems, with politicians who think their own nation is the problem.

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This story from the Odd News is certainly odd.  A Florida church is in trouble for a 3-week series about “great sex.”  No, the problem is not the denomination, or some stuffy members upset about such a scandalous thing.

The problem in this case is the “risk management” department of the local school board.  The controversy revolves around the 25,000 mailers sent to homes in the target area of the church.

Mark Langdorf, the director of risk management, says the mailers generated complaints, were not appropriate for elementary school children and shouldn’t be used to advertise the sermon in the school.

This implies a few things, which really aren’t true.

First, that the mailers were geared for, and sent to, children.  Elementary school children to be precise.  I seriously doubt they were sent to elementary school children.

Second, that elementary school children don’t hear about sex from … the school.  Yes, there could be some hypocrisy at work here.  It is okay for the kids to hear about sex, including certain deviations from normalcy portrayed as normal.  But not okay for a church to instruct adults about God’s good plan for sex within the confines and freedom of marriage.

Churches should be teaching people about sex- not just the when not to part.  A certain famous pastor has been attacking another certain famous pastor for doing just that using the Song of Solomon which last I checked was in the Bible, and about …. sex (among other things).  Most churches don’t have elementary age school children in the service for the sermon however.  So, I’m not sure how this would ‘damage’ the children who attend the school (which is the risk the risk management board should be assessing, though they might need to look at their own curriculum).  Nor should it damage the children who attend the church.

This is an off-hours, voluntary event that is not contiguous with normal school hours or any other school event.  So what is the problem here?  I just don’t understand how this could even be an issue.  But I guess it shows that the world is even more inconsistent when it comes to sex than the church is.

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On Nightline, there was a Face Off regarding the reality of Satan.  Mark Driscoll was one of the participants.  Mark did a great job integrating the reality of the Evil One with a presentation of the gospel.  He offered hope in the midst of our personal and societal struggles.

And then there was Deepok Chopra gave a bunch of ying & yang psycho-babble (quoting Freud, but in line with Jung’s work) about how “healthy people don’t need the devil.”   Bishop Pearson forsakes his calling based on a false stereo-type.  Nice.  Another “bishop” denying the teaching of Scripture.  I guess we solve the problem of evil by just not thinking about it.

Both of argue against the belief in the devil on the basis of wars- religious wars.  just because some nuts believe you can drop the bomb on the devil to destroy him does not make this a reason to deny personal evil.  It is a Straw Man argument, fallacious to the core.  The devil is not material, can’t be bombed, shot or drugged out of existence.  Only Jesus destroys the work of the devil (Hebrews 2, I think), which Pearson forgot to mention when saying Jesus would not be pleased by all that bomb dropping.  I’m pretty sure Jesus isn’t pleased with those who think dropping bombs (or flying planes into sky scrappers) is the way to defeat The Great Satan.  Now, legitimate governments bearing the sword against those who pose a threat against those they are charged to protect (Romans 13) is another story.  But the ultimate solution is only Christ and Him crucified to destroy, among other things, the hate in our hearts and the evils that flow from that.

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While fixing the kids’ lunch today, I was watching the Sports Reporters.  They were talking about the economy’s effect on salaries, and just about every team but the NY Yankees.  The salary cap was mentioned, and one of the reporters repeated an oft mentioned error.  I can’t stand it when supposed experts (like this guy and Colin Cowherd) don’t know the facts.  I think Cowherd also passed on this bit of incorrect information.

2008 MLB Salaries

  1. NY Yankees  $209 million
  2. Detroit Tigers  $138.6 million
  3. NY Mets  $138.2 million
  4. Boston Red Sox $133.4 million

It will be interesting to see how it all stacks up come the beginning of this season.  Both the Red Sox and Tigers have dumped salary.  Lots of teams have.  The Red Sox spent more the first few years of John Henry’s tenure as owner.  But these knee-jerk reactionaries refuse to face facts.  The Red Sox have been implementing their plan of player development in order to reduce their salary (they spent more than $143 million in 2007).  They don’t want to depend on high priced free agents.  To compete until they could develop guys like Lester, Pedroia and Papelbon, they spent money.  But to think they ever actually competed with the Yankees salary-wise is silly.  John Henry knew that the Red Sox could not sustain a system where they spent ever-increasing amounts on free agents (as the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes showed, they picked targets and set limits- just as with the A-Fraud trade which the MLBPA, not Bug Selig squashed [sorry Colin]). 

Henry doesn’t want the Yankees to be in a completely different stratosphere when it comes to salary (they may near the $100 million gap this season).  But they also don’t want those team who receive revenue sharing to just pocket the cash.  They want them to spend money on players’ salaries so ALL teams are better increasing the competition and the MLB product.  As a result, I don’t find the talk of a salary zone by John Henry to be disingenuous.  Whether or not it is good for the game is up for debate.  But to take the comments out of context, including historical context, is unfair, and not solid journalism.

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Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

Way back in 1517, Luther attacked the use of indulgences by the Church of Rome.  They were used to provide a false hope, and a steady flow of cash for Papal building projects.  The Reformation was born.

Many, Cavman included, think we need a new (or renewed) Reformation since the doctrine of justification by faith alone as fallen on hard times in evangelical circles.  People have once again put sanctification prior to justification, just in a different form than Rome did.

But the Church of Rome has made a change that was not expected by many people.  Indulgences are back.  Yes, like the Terminator they have returned, and that is not a good thing either.

“Why are we bringing it back?” asked Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn, who has embraced the move. “Because there is sin in the world.”

Like the Latin Mass and meatless Fridays, the indulgence was one of the traditions decoupled from mainstream Catholic practice in the 1960s by the Second Vatican Council, the gathering of bishops that set a new tone of simplicity and informality for the church.

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