Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Block From Which I Chip?

Unintentional coordination.
I almost wore a grey tie, too.

He's the source of one fourth of my genes, and now he's joined the blogosphere!

He's my grandpa. I've often thought that if you were to give him a typewriter and lots of time, he could provide you with volumes upon volumes of encyclopedic knowledge. Perhaps his blog is the closest we'll ever get.

The title, too, delights my sense of wordplay. It's called "View from the West Lea:"

west (noun):*
1 a: the general direction of sunset : the direction to the left of one facing north b: the compass point directly opposite to east

lea (noun):*
1: grassland, pasture

Wesley (noun):
1: Grandpa's first name.

To complete the picture, know that Grandpa will often be writing about issues pertinent to where he lives, on the west bank of the Chesapeake Bay. So the title represents both his point of view and the area about which he's writing.


*Definitions from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.

San Francisco: Model of Eden?

Little known Bible fact: the Earth as it existed in the time of Adam and Eve was without rain. Why?
...For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground;

but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.
Genesis 2:5b-6
For any who don't have any idea what that would be like - I encourage you to check out San Francisco to get the gist of it!

Shrouded in fog.

Many believe, since there's no more mention of rain until Noah, that the rains of the Flood were the first that the world ever experienced. That would make Noah's display of faith that much more impressive!

God: Noah, I want you to build a boat. It's going to rain for forty days and forty nights.

Noah: You got it. What's rain?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Keystone Solution

Gorgeous. The weather isn't bad, either.

Thoughts while I visit California:

In Pennsylvania, weather varies primarily in time. There is stark variation across the four seasons, or across patterns from one week to the next, or even within one day. On many occasions, a look into a clear sky has led me to lock my bike in the open, only to return to it later soaking.

In California, weather varies primarily in space. The part of San Francisco in which I'm vacationing is often covered in thick fog. However, a drive of twenty minutes across the Golden Gate Bridge brings me to sun and another fifteen degrees Fahrenheit in Marin County.

Humans have developed fast and convenient ways of traveling through space. Disappointingly, they have developed no way to travel through time. Surely this is one reason real estate in California is so sought after.

Pennsylvania struggles with losing people, especially college graduates, to the Sunshine Belt. Surely the best way to alleviate this problem would be to invent a time machine.

Governor Rendell? Anyone?

A Glimpse Into The Future?

According to Fox News, a Canadian woman lost custody of her children for sending her daughter to school twice with a swastika drawn on her arm.

As deplorable as such an act is, it boils down to deeming a mother unfit because of her beliefs. It's not a large leap to see taking away the children of parents who, say, don't take proper action against global warming.

I have read of other disturbing trends in Canada,* such as essentially losing the freedom of speech. As Canada seems in some ways to be the logical progression of trends in the United States today, I wonder if this country isn't far behind.

*Most of what I hear about the Great White North comes from David Warren, who I believe has many true and important things to say.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

False Doctrine on the News

I briefly saw a cable news segment tonight criticizing John McCain for his reluctance to offer an on-the-spot opinion on insurance companies which cover medicine for erectile dysfunction but not oral contraceptives. The logic behind this report peeves me.

We're talking about equivalent situations here, right? Many men need medication for erectile dysfunction in order to have sex; many women need oral contraception in order to have sex. Paying for only one situation is a clear case of sexism!

I disagree. In the man's case, there is something wrong with his body, albeit often a natural result of aging.* In the woman's case, the only thing "wrong" with her is fertility. I resent calling this natural state a condition to be methodically subdued.

Americans today would much rather sex and reproduction were two noninteracting spheres, but nature nags otherwise. Many demand contraception to accomplish this divorce and maintain the modern life, but I do not acknowledge a fundamental human right to be barren.

Deeper than the insistence that sex be enjoyed without fear of attachment to another human being, or of the catastrophe that would be creation of new life, is the loud insistence that all people are exactly the same. For decades academics have obsessed over promulgating the worldview that no difference among humans is fundamental, and therefore any existing difference can and should be eradicated.

Society is constructed, they say. Morality is constructed. Emotions are constructed. Gender is constructed. "If it is constructed, then I will demolish it, and build my own."

Vanity and Babel. No amount of scholarly analysis or advance of medicine will bring a man to give birth.

We are stuck with the we that we are.

*I don't necessarily think ED should be covered by insurance. It probably depends on the situation. As my friend Josh puts it, "if a 70-year-old guy wants to pretend he's 40, he can do it without me picking up any of the tab."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Even a Few

In need of hope.

I'm reading a great book about the role of Christians in the city. Author Ray Bakke, raised in rural post-World War II Washington state, became the reluctant pastor of a congregation of hundreds at the age of 23. In the 1960's he moved to Chicago, an explosive place at an explosive time, and remained there for the next 30 years.

In a chapter entitled "Can We Save a City Like Sodom?" Bakke discusses the transformational power of even a few Christians living in and for a city, as well as the widespread withdrawal of Christians from cities in the second half of the twentieth century.

Bakke writes:
When I became a pastor in Chicago [in 1965], my first community service was the funeral of the neighboring pastor and wife two blocks down the street from the church. They had been stabbed to death during the night in what is still an unsolved crime. One of their three preschool children stopped the postman at the door the following morning and plaintively asked, "Can you wake up my daddy?" As I described the situation to my mother later that week, she asked - doubtless thinking of my own little boys - "How long are you going to stay in Chicago?"

I replied, "As long as I can count on other believers here. If I can't, I'll run far and fast."
From Ray Bakke, "A Theology As Big As the City" (1997), pg. 41
When a 23-year-old aspiring teacher was murdered in Philly recently, my mom asked me if I really wanted to live in Philadelphia. I told her that if everyone who was able to leave the city were to do so, things would be even worse for those who couldn't get out.

Bakke believes that the welfare of a city is contingent on the presence of God's people within it. Indeed, he notes Jesus calls his followers salt (a preservative) and light (exposing, eliminating darkness). Genesis teaches us that Sodom* could have been spared by the presence of ten of God's followers (18:22-33). Indeed, in Jeremiah we learn that Jerusalem could have been saved by even one seeker of the truth (5:1).

So I think Bakke is onto something. If God is who the Bible says he is, cities desperately need His people, any of His people, to live in and for them, to death if necessary. And those who do so must unite in their purpose, or all will be adrift.

These principles are the those that lead me to seek employment in Philadelphia now that I have graduated. It's time to put my money where my mouth is.

On a final note, contrast the importance of this call with the widespread response of the church when things have gotten rough in the cities:
I don't need to tell American Christians that we live in a day of large-scale Christian withdrawal from large sections of our cities. The people running away from Los Angeles are bumping into the people running away from Chicago, somewhere in Colorado's pristine mountains, or so it seems at times. The results: social gaps grow, God is furious, and our nation is at risk (44).
We have a history of flight and failure, not to atone for (for Jesus has done that), but to learn from. Let us boldly approach the throne of grace and find our Lord's heart for his city:
Can we save a city like Sodom? Of course we can, and we must. Thankfully the preserving effect of a few righteous people is much more widespread than we might think (46).

"For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says."
Mark 11:23
*It is a common misconception that God destroyed Sodom primarily because of sexual immorality in the city. Ezekiel 16:48-50 reveals that the primary reason God destroyed it was that though the people of the city were economically prosperous, they did not help the poor and needy. Is there any city today in which this neglect is not widespread?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Image is in the details.

The logo is a siren. Mistake?

Not being a coffee drinker, I was confused by the sizes at a Starbucks recently. Fortunately, they provide handy examples up front, from which I deduced the following translations:

Tall normally means something is bigger than its peers, but in this case tall means small. Customers ordering a tall are freed from feeling like they are depriving themselves.

means large. Instead of feeling guilty about indulging, customers can take a caffeinated vacation south of the border. Arriba!

Venti means Supersize. We have learned though from our forebears in the 1990's that Supersize will kill you. So Starbucks had to rename it. Venti is Italian for 20, as in the number of ounces in the drink, or the square root of the caffeine dose.

It's great ideas like these that helped Starbucks open a new location every workday in the 1990's.