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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Not In America...

Tens of thousands of Christians gathering at a sports stadium on Saturday, September 28th, to pray. Wonderful. Hopefully it won't be beset by legal challenges and protests that would arise from such an event here.

"And as for this house, which is exalted, everyone who passes by it will be astonished and say, "Why has the Lord done this to this land and this house. Then they will answer, 'Because they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who brought them out of the land of Egypt and embraced other gods, and worshiped them; and served them therefore He has brought all this calamity on them." - 2 Chronicles 7:21

"Then, if my people who are called by my  name will humble theselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. - 2 Chronicles 7:14

 "But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve... But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." - Joshua 24:15

Monday, September 24, 2012

42 - The Movie Decades Overdue

How in the world it has taken Hollywood SO LONG to make a film like this is incomprehensible to me. Jackie Robinson is one of the greatest heroes of the twentieth century and this is a story that every American should see.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Nationwide Arena? Yeah, that was a great purchase

'Franklin County taxpayers have little on the line in hockey lockout.'

“It turned out to be an excellent deal for the taxpayers,” Riggs said.

A misleading headline and quote in today's Dispatch. Little is on the line because millions of dollars in casino revenues are already obligated to the Nationwide Arena purchase. That money is GONE whether or not they play hockey. If you've ever heard of the term, 'sweetheart lease deal,' this is one. For the Blue Jackets.

The Blue Jackets and Nationwide were the winners in the arena sale (I guess you could say it's nice the Blue Jackets can at least win off the ice) The County and City gave up the casino moneys, meaning central Ohio residents were the losers. Public bailouts of multimillion dollar corporations don't just happen in Washington.

And something that I didn't see the Dispatch mention: The owner of the Blue Jackets voted to support the NHL Commissioner locking out the players. So, the public buys the hockey arena, then the team's owner votes not to play hockey.

This is the same owner that threatened and bullied Franklin County and the City of Columbus into buying Nationwide Arena, freeing his team from an onerous lease agreement that ownership willingly entered into. In an arena that was built privately  because Columbus taxpayers voted NO to public funding of it.

Wow. A solid citizen who clearly wants what is best for Columbus and central Ohio.

Make sure you visit the Columbus Casino, source for the government bailout of the poor Columbus Blue Jackets

Thinking from The Iliad

"Life is a struggle each person will ultimately always lose; the question is, how one acts with that knowledge."

I came across that sentence (from Profesor Richard Martin) in a commentary on Homer's Iliad. It struck a chord within me. But immediately, I also realized that, as a Christian, it's only half the statement. Death is not THE end; it's a new beginning. And that knowledge should affect how you live.

If you've never read the Iliad, it truly is one of the greatest works of literature. It is what fired my imagination for swords and sorcery books and Dungeons and Dragons. It's truly an epic tale. If you don't know, Homer's The Odyssey is a direct sequel and Virgil's Aenied tells another part of the story after The Iliad ends. They form sort of a trilogy.

Now, the translation you get is important (this thing was written, in Greek, somewhere around the 8th century): at one extreme, it can be near incomprehensible. At the other, pure modern prose has none of the majesty of the original poem.

I recently came across the Robert Fagles translation and it strikes a good balance between the original poetic form and being understandable. 

If the Brad Pitt movie Troy is the extent of  your familiarity with the Trojan War, go ahead and read the book. It is much, much, much  better.

Achilles battles Hector. It's kind of a big scene...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bob's Books - The Friends of Richard Nixon by George Higgins

I have not read George Higgins’ highly acclaimed crime novel, The Friends of Eddie Coyle. I suspect, if I had, and had I liked it, I might have better appreciated his take on Watergate, The Friends of Richard Nixon. Though, since I didn’t particularly like the latter, it’s possible I might only have better understood the style, while still not caring much for it.

Higgins likes to be clever. This book oozes clever. It screams, “Look how witty I am. I am clever.” Here is ONE sentence on page four:

“To those bereaved by the works of murders; to those raped, robbed, mugged, dispirited by the loss of their possessions, or enraged by the violation of their children, or unalterably convinced that untrammeled traffic in dirty books, pictures and films will certainly proliferate rapists and child molesters: to that vast popular majority which fears that legal cession of a monopoly on the use of force, to the government, under the social contract, is not in fact a matter of unanimous consent, too – sedulous attention to the rights of those accused is not a welcome course of conduct.”

Throughout, Higgins’ book cries out, ‘I’m a good Boston lawyer and let me tell you about those bad White House people from California. And know lots of big words, too.’ I’m no Nixon fan, but Higgins’ writing makes one think of the ‘Eastern Establishment’ types that Nixon was always railing against. 

Higgins was a lawyer, including a US Attorney for Massachusetts and there’s no denying his insights into the system bring something to the table; they certainly give a unique look at Earl Silbert, who was the US Attorney for DC and led the initial Watergate investigation. He paints a more positive picture of Silbert’s efforts than most.

But, literally every page has at least one sentence like this: “It constituted recognition that the existence of additional defendants, one of them placed fairly high in ostensibly respectable circles, implied the possibility that one or more unidentified people might have it in mind to balk the orderly processes of justice.” 

Higgins should have spent less time trying to write highbrow prose and just put together sentences that a reader didn’t have to parse and try to understand. His opinions on the justice system and law enforcement are sometimes insightful and sometimes just condescending. I enjoyed some parts of this book, but on the whole, found it to be annoying. And that’s not usually a good thing to say about a book.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

President Obama said he was a Christian

I find this to be an interesting piece from President Obama from 2008:

Especially at the 1:07 point, when he talks about living out what it means to be a Christian. If you are a Christian, and you read the Bible, I cannot see any possible way you could come to the conclusion that today he sincerely believes what he said in 2008. It's easy to say that one is a Christian. I know quite a few people who say they are, but have really created their own personal religion. And they'll realize what they've done when it's too late.

It takes a genuine effort to actually live as a Christian and to follow what the Bible tells us. Obama is the only one who knows whether or not he has truly accepted Jesus as his savior. But words and actions can be seen by all, and the man is not living as a Christian follower of God.

I voted for Obama in 2008. I find it disheartening that just four years later, as a Biblical Christian, I view a Mormon as the best choice for President. To give Mitt Romney credit, he is honest about what he believes in. And his beliefs are a lot more rooted in the Bible than Obama's.

I have never said this before, but I miss Ronald Reagan. Change Russians to radical Islamists and try to picture President Obama making this speech:

Now, someone recently said that Obama couldn't live out his Christian beliefs as President because "that's why separation of church and state is in the Constitution." You know what, No, it's NOT. 'Separation of Church and State' is a phrase used by Thomas Jefferson in a letter he wrote. He was referring to the First Amendment as a tool to keep government from interfering with religious practice. It was the Supreme Court under Earl Warren that turned the phrase on its head so that the restriction would be on the citizens, not the government.

What the Constitution does have is:

The Establishment Clause - "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."; which is immediately followed by

The Free Exercise Clause - "...or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

Separation of church and state is a general term used to describe a concept. It is NOT a concept written in the Constitution. Go look up the first amendment. BTW, the founding fathers didn't even include those two clauses in the original Constitution. James Madison got them added in the Bill of Rights, passed AFTER the Constitution was ratified.

When Congress tries to pass a law establishing a national religion, then it will be violating the Constitution. Supreme Court decisions regarding church and state have been used by uninformed individuals to create their own version of the Constitution (just like the personal religions mentioned above). Those decisions are part of the law, but they are NOT a part of the Constitution. Just semantics? I don't think so.

In 2008, it served Obama's presidential aspirations to say that he was a Christian. In 2012, he believes it furthers his chances to take actions that fly in the face of the Bible. The pilgrims (who seem to be forgotten today) came to America to found a Christian nation. In 2012, we're a far cry from one.