Monday, June 29, 2009


So I've been not only out of town, but almost beyond reach of the web for a bit over two weeks, now. Sarita and I enjoyed a two-week river cruise from Amsterdam, Holland, to Budapest, Hungary, with the last few days actually spent driving around in Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary . . . because the Danube was flooded and river traffic was halted.

I want to share a few of my observations from the trip, but not in this post. I wrote a few posts at the time I experienced what I wrote about. I intend to "back fill" those posts. Hopefully later today.

And then I intend to do a major post--or two or three or four--on Lamoureux's Evolutionary Creation. --Talk about a potentially revolutionary book! . . . But, oh, so hard to read! Terrible! (But I will get into that later, in my posts.)


This is just to say "hello," and "glad to be back," and, "sorry I missed you" for these last few weeks.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


On our trip across the Atlantic, I read The Sniper by James Riordan, a fictionalized "slice of life" about a teen-aged sniper trained--among a number of other young people--by the Russian Army to help turn the tide of the Nazi invasion that reached Stalingrad in August 1942 and whose invading force was finally and officially defeated with the surrender and capture of Field-Marshall Friedrich Von Paulus on January 31, 1943.

Any story like that ought to be of interest, I imagine, to anyone who may be concerned about survival . . . especially during times of war. But this story includes an additional twist that made the book all the more interesting to me and, I hope, to my readers. Especially in light of the ongoing push by what appears to be an ever-more-influential circle of "leaders" in the Christian homeschool marketplace who advocate that women ought not to be prepared for any occupation beyond homemaking [a fine and most worthy occupation, but hardly the only worthy goal to which women can properly--biblically--aspire!] and who most ardently advocate the idea that men only ought to participate in military exploits [the participation of women is a blot on men's virtue].

You see, the sniper under question--the real person and not only the fictional character--was a young woman . . . actually, a Russian-American woman who, according to separate resources I have consulted, returned to Russia in order to be near her grandparents (for more about her, see also this and this [search for female snipers and read from there.

As I have found is too often the case with historical fiction, it appears Riordan gives Chernova a few too many heroic opportunities in the book. It appears she did not, in the end, lead the group that took Paulus captive. But there is no question, she was one of many (some say a million or more) Russian women who turned the tide of war.

I think those who say a woman's place is and ought to be only in the home may need to read more about people like Chernova--a true hero [or, if we must, heroine] for her people.


I should probably note: Riordan's book includes more typos than I am used to with professionally published books. It is not as smooth and elegant as one might prefer. At places I get the feeling the author was seeking to appeal to a younger children's audience.

I still enjoyed the book.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The vocabulary of wisdom

6/23/09 -- On the way to Passau, Germany

I began the Book of Proverbs this morning in my ongoing "through the Bible in a year" reading program.

This has struck me in the past, but I have never written it up. I want to take note, today, of the . . . what we might call . . . "vocabulary of wisdom." I'll precede each word with the verse number. Actual vocabulary is from the ESV. I will embolden each word the first time it appears:

1:2 -- know, wisdom, instruction, understand, insight
1:3 -- instruction, wise dealing, righteousness, justice, equity
1:4 -- prudence, knowledge, discretion
1:5 -- wise, learning, understand, guidance
1:6 -- understand, wise
1:7 -- fear of [YHWH], knowledge, wisdom, instruction
1:8 -- instruction, teaching
1:25 -- counsel, reproof
1:29 -- knowledge, fear of [YHWH]
1:30 -- counsel, reproof

2:2 -- wisdom, understanding
2:3 -- insight, understanding
2:5 -- fear of [YHWH], knowledge of God
2:6 -- wisdom, knowledge, understanding
2:7 -- wisdom, integrity
2:8 -- justice
2:9 -- righteousness, justice, equity
2:10 -- wisdom, knowledge
2:11 -- discretion, understanding
2:12 -- [NOT evil], [NOT perverted speech]
2:13 -- uprightness, [NOT darkness]
2:14 -- [NOT evil], [NOT perverseness
2:15 -- [NOT crooked], [NOT devious]
2:20 -- good, righteous

3:1 -- teaching, commandments . . .

I'm quitting here because I sense the vocabulary from here on out is pretty much repetitive of what has come before.

But/and why do I care to copy these words?

I think that it is helpful "simply" to have a vocabulary to describe what it is one should want to value or pursue. To quote two complete proverbs:
How blessed is the man who finds wisdom
And the man who gains understanding.
For her profit is better than the profit of silver
And her gain better than fine gold.
She is more precious than jewels;
And nothing you desire compares with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
In her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are pleasant ways
And all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who hold her fast.

- (Proverbs 3:13-18 NASB)

You've got to understand the supreme value of wisdom: it is worth acquisition at all costs. Better than gold. Beyond all the wild desire that created the myriad gold rushes of the 19th and 20th centuries: you need to understand that wisdom is more valuable still.

"The beginning of wisdom {is:} Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding.

- (Proverbs 4:7 NASB)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

6/16/09--Köln/Cologne Germany

I have seen uncounted Roman ruins and collections of ancient artifacts--Roman, Chinese, and other--in the last 10 years, since I first had the privilege of leaving the United States and visiting a foreign country. (Back in 1999, Sarita's parents brought the entire extended family to Holland to visit their birthplaces and where they were married. It was their 50th Wedding Anniversary present to the family. While in Europe, then, the families of their two daughters--i.e., our family, and Sarita's sister's family--took a one-week side-trip into France. And there, for the first time, I saw some old Roman ruins. Since then, we have had the privilege of traveling around the Mediterranean and seeing numerous ruins and numerous ancient history museums.)

Today, however, "blew me away."

We visited Köln/Cologne's Roman-German Museum. Sarita and I were both astonished at the quality and variety of artifacts. Gorgeous--especially the glass pieces. Multi-colored. Whole. Unbroken. Unchipped. With fine details. Beautiful. Absolutely stunning.

But besides the glasswork, there is an amazing collection of oil lamps. And metal. And statuary. --Those are the things that most impressed me. Sadly, we had only about an hour to blast through the museum and then we had to get back on board our boat.

Something else blew me away today. I wasn't expecting it.

The cathedral.

Once more: I have visited uncounted European cathedrals over the last decade . . . all over Europe and the Mediterranean. Considering my response to what I saw today, I have to think back on what I have seen in the past and wonder why it took till today for me to be impacted in quite the way I was.

Today, for the first time, I saw the cathedral in Cologne as a symbol of how the church in the Middle Ages/pre-Reformation period had become an institution of and for the super-wealthy and super-powerful only. It was not for the common people. It was not a place of salvation or refuge.

Here, in this vast building, built on the labor and unbelievable sacrifices of the poor . . . what did we see? Oh, besides all the "standard" things one might see in a cathedral--the pulpit(s) and the altars (both major and side) and all the works of art, the crucifixes, the stations of the cross, the windows (things, I have to confess, this time, today, in Cologne, my mind did not notice!--honestly, I can't remember actually seeing any such things, though I have to believe they must have been there!)--all I noticed were the large sarcophagi (sarcophaguses) of the (supposedly) "great" and "holy" men that were placed in almost every alcove around the sanctuary--huge blocks of white marble with likenesses of these men lying in state on top, clothed in their vestments and robes and the symbols of their positions and power--their miters, their crosiers, and so on and so forth. And every one had his hands held, fingers splayed, in a position of eternal prayer.

And I looked at those sarcophagi and it hit me: "There is no room, here, for 'the little guy,' the common man (or woman!--since not a single sarcophagus was for a woman). No room for the family that is barely eking out a living--perhaps half-starving, despite working from sun up to sun down. . . ." It was a church for the rich and powerful, built on the labor and sacrifices of the poor.

Suddenly I thought I could understand a little of the motivation--the emotion--that may have gone into the Protestant movement of the 16th century.

I should note: This response on my part amazed me partially because, as I have noted, I have seen so many cathedrals before. I mean, Köln/Cologne is not particularly filled with sarcophagi. It has nowhere near the quantity, and it is by far nowhere near as jammed as, for example, that museum of British imperial glory otherwise known as the Westminster Abbey Cathedral in London. So I don't really understand why I responded as I did.

But that's what hit me today.

It feels as if I've had my eyes opened.

I sense I can "understand" some of the almost (? Was it only "almost"?) revolutionary fervor with which some of the Protestants must have pursued their agenda.

And, actually, now that I think of it, that--revolution--is what Berman calls it and what (I now realize) many Catholic historians have called the Protestant movement of that era. Not the "Protestant Reformation" (because, they say, the Church was never really reformed), but the "Protestant Revolution."

And why was it a revolution? Why did the underclasses pursue their agenda with such revolutionary fervor?

I imagine it had much to do with the sense of desperation that many must have felt as they labored, virtually without hope in this world, only to see their families die from disease or lack of food . . . but/and "their" church--which was supposed to offer hope, at least, for the next world---seemed to offer nothing there, either . . . except only for the rich and powerful.

--That was the thought that hit me today.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Harley, Farley, Charlie & Claude

Many years ago . . . say, about 40 or 45 years ago! . . . I was given an LP record of a Christian speaker to youth. One of the talks recorded on that album had the intriguing title of Harley, Farley, Charlie and Claude.

It was the story about David and Goliath.

If you look up the story in 1 Samuel 17, you'll find that, as he prepares to fight the giant, David picks up five smooth stones for his sling (v. 40).

There is no further comment on the verse. But the speaker commented on it. As far as I have been able to determine, what the speaker said about those five pebbles was a complete concoction from his fertile imagination.

As I recall, he said that the reason for those four "extra" stones was not to take care of Goliath in case David missed; rather,as protection against Goliath's brothers, . . . Harley, Farley, Charlie and Claude.*

Now, my purpose in telling you this, what I have related, is actually to bring you to another detail from the story where the speaker's point is actually based on the Scripture itself and doesn't go beyond it.

After relating Goliath's initial trash-talk of David (what we read about in vv. 42-44) and David's bold reply (vv. 45-47), he described Goliath's opening physical gambit (v. 48a) and David's response: "David ran" (v. 48b).

Yes, said the speaker, David ran.

"But he didn't run away from the battle. He ran toward it. . . . You see, the direction matters."

--Something like that. (Give me some slack. It's been over 40 years!)

For some reason, that story has always stuck with me.

And it came to mind again this past week.

Last week, early, I realized Sonlight faced one of the largest customer relations debacles we have encountered in the 19 years we've been in business. And I had a choice. The anger directed against us, the fury, the sense of injustice at what we had done: it seemed impossible that we could placate the ravening crowd.

But I decided I needed to try to do something. And so I began to write and found my words thrown back in my face.

I think I spent all day last Friday, all day Saturday and . . . something I never do: I "even" justified getting up early on Sunday in order to try to communicate with these customers (or, at that point, some former customers). (Sundays have been a pretty much sacrosanct day of rest for me since my freshman year in college. I "justified" the "work" of communication on the basis that I had to be reconciled with people whom I had offended. Following Jesus' comments about doing good on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:10-12), I figured "making up" was well-justified.)

Well, Sunday morning, the speaker at our church had us turn to Acts 3:1-12, the story of Peter and John heading to the temple and being accosted by the paralytic.

"Silver and gold have I none," Peter famously replied. "But that which I have, I give to you. . . ."

And, having healed the man, suddenly, Peter and John found themselves surrounded by a crowd.

"And when Peter saw [the crowd], he addressed the people."

He could have backed off, tried to escape, tried to do any of a number of things besides actually talk with the people.

He decided to speak to them.

When I got home from church, I continued to attempt to "speak" to those who were offended.

By 9 o'clock that night, I was disheartened (to put it mildly).

I thought: "These people don't want to hear. Why are you wasting your time? You have invested an entire precious day of rest in what? You've exposed yourself to such toxic negativity. . . . Why? What good have you done?"

I wanted to crawl in a hole somewhere.

It took another three days to bring this sorry episode to a preliminary close.

But when it was all over, despite the physical, emotional, and mental toll, I was glad I had stood my ground and run to the fight rather than away.

I'm not sure what big "lesson" I have here. But, for some reason, the story seemed worthy of telling.

And maybe this is all to say, too: I may not post for a couple of weeks.

I'm exhausted. And I'm looking forward to a two-week vacation that's supposed to start tomorrow afternoon/evening. We're scheduled to be in Europe: up the Rhine from Amsterdam, across the Main-Danube Canal, then down the Danube to Budapest.

I look forward to "seeing" you when I get back!

* ETA at 7:15 a.m. on Saturday, June 13: I just got thinking: I don't think the speaker made such a big deal about Goliath's purported brothers that he gave them names. I think he merely suggested that it was because of brothers that David picked up the extra stones. I believe the names Harley, Farley, Charlie and Claude were those he gave to the four men who brought the paralytic to Jesus for healing (Mark 2:3). The names make more sense in that context. They are throw-away names for four men whose behavior was truly extraordinary and worthy of emulation. . . . And why do I remember their names? Because Harley, Farley, Charlie and Claude was the name of the record album. --Side issue, I know. But I thought I should clarify.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"The latest" from CHEC

A friend forwarded a scanned copy of the following letter from Kevin Swanson, executive director of CHEC, dated June 4, 2009.

Links provided within the body of the letter are mine.
After 10 years serving as Executive Director of Christian Home Educators of Colorado, I will be taking on new responsibilities with CHEC. The board has appointed another Executive Director to succeed me, effective September 1, 2009. Mike Chapa will serve as the new Executive Director. For the last twenty years, Mike has served in the United States Air Force as a fighter pilot and as an instructor at the United States Air Force Academy. Recently, Mike and his wife Tonya have volunteered time to serve CHEC on the conference committee. They have homeschooled their six children from the outset.

This does not mean that I am retiring from CHEC. (As I recall, my original contract doesn't allow me to retire until I get to heaven!) I will continue as Director of CHEC's national operations under the Generations with Vision ministry.

Over the last ten years, we have seen CHEC grow by a factor of 400% in its bottom-line expenditures (and income). We have seen CHEC surface as a national leader for the homeschooling vision. Over the last decade, we have worked hard to emphasize a Christ-centered approach in a world given to man-centered, child-centered, God-ignoring methods of education.

Where public schools are increasingly hostile to any reference to the Bible or the fear of God as the beginning of knowledge in science and history classrooms, we have asserted just the opposite. You may have seen that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals disallowed the reading of the Bible in a Kindergarten class for show-and-tell! The Chief Judge in the case rejected any "reading of religious
texts," but forgot to mention the materialist worldview, the humanist worldview, the new age worldview, or the Muslim worldview in his brief. Every science and history textbook holds to some basic religious perspective relating to the nature of the universe, the essence of reality, the purpose of life, etc., etc. It is only the Christian worldview that is thoroughly repudiated by this increasingly aggressive, secular-humanist state. What little Christian worldview is left in this country is coming from homeschools and a very few Christian schools.

With the secularization of society, we have witnessed a steady corruption of the family and freedom, and of course, the inevitable move towards big-government socialism. We truly believe that we are struggling to retain something of the Christian faith, of family integrity, and freedom for our families in the generations to come. The way your children will live - their single parent rates, their divorce rates, their political perspectives, their support for euthanasia in the 2024 elections, their imploding birth rates, will all depend on the sort of social environment and the education program you give them in 2009.

We sit on the very cutting edge of the battle of worldviews - and the stakes are very high. Please pray especially for the CHEC Family Conference at the Denver Merchandise Mart, scheduled for June 18-20, 2009. We have had more problems with attacks from the enemy than [at] any other time that I can remember in CHEC history, and many of my good friends from other ministries have witnessed similar all-out attack[s] as well. We must be doing something right! I would ask that you pray for increased attendance, and an unimpeded course for our wonderful speakers that have agreed to stand with us in the storms.

With God's blessings,

Kevin Swanson
Executive Director
Several things strike me about the letter:
  • CHEC's name refers to the Christian Home Educators of Colorado, yet the focus of CHEC's executive director for the past . . . while . . . has been (and is now being recognized as) "national" and on something, really, other than home education in Colorado.

    One can understand the mission drift.

    Swanson was a committed Theonomist/Reconstructionist/Dominionist before he began to work with CHEC.

    But then I can imagine his personal mental (and, quickly, the organization's mission) drift:

    • Christian Home Educators of Colorado.
    • Christian Home Education.
    • Christian Education.
    • Discipleship.
    • . . . I'm training my son.
    • He's my apprentice.
    • Apprenticeship.
    • Mentorship.
    • . . . My son is very entrepreneurial.
    • Entrepreneurship.
    • CHEC Apprenticeship, Mentorship, Entrepreneurship Program.
    • . . . My son.
    • A boy.
    • I need to help him become a real man.
    • The Vision Forum All-American Boy's Adventure Catalog.
    • Doug Phillips--a fellow-traveler on the Reconstructionist/Dominionist/Theonomic road!
    • Patriarchy. [I have found Cindy Kunsman to provide a lot of deeply insightful analysis of various spiritually abusive people, groups and practices. I think it is appropriate that I should provide a link to a page that collects everything she has written on her blog that touches on patriarchy.]
    • Generations with Vision.
    • Our message needs to get out to a national audience.
    • National ministry . . .

    ETA at 12:17 p.m. on Thursday, June 11: I wrote out this list partially for my own edification. My own heart and mind follows these kinds of paths. . . . And I think it can often be a good thing for a man or woman of God to be "listening" to these stirrings of the heart. They may, in fact, be God's "still small voice." So we have to be sensitive to that.

    But I think we also--those of us who are involved in providing leadership to organizations larger than our families-- . . . we also have to be careful not to confuse our personal call with the call of the organization. We have to beware dragging the organization down a path to which it really hasn't been called.

    I am disturbed to see how HSLDA, for example, seemed to get dragged into conservative Republican political interests that were on founder Mike Farris' heart but that were really distinct from what HSLDA itself was founded to achieve. Same thing, now, when we look at CHEC.

    And I have had to be careful about my interests that are distinct from Sonlight Curriculum

    Each organization--or, at least, each "brand" within an organization--needs to have its own distinct, and very clear purpose. And the leader--and the board that oversees the leader--needs to be vigilant that he or she doesn't lead the organization down a primrose path away from the valid goal for which it was founded (as long as that goal remains useful).

    If the original purpose no longer exists, then acknowledge the fact and re-brand yourself. But don't let Christian Home Educators of Colorado hold onto its name while it becomes the Kevin Swanson Publishing House, the Kevin Swanson Radio Hour, the Young Men's Apprenticeship, Mentorship, Entrepreneurship League or something else equally removed from the founding and still-stated purpose of the mother organization.

  • I am hopeful that Swanson's appointment to a "national operations" position . . . and the appointment of a new "general" executive director for CHEC might signal a return of focus for the organization to what its name claims it should be all about. That could be a very good thing.
  • Everything about Christ-centered v. man-centered education, etc.: Amen. I'm with him. More self-professed Christians need to wake up to what he is talking about, there.
  • The "CHEC Family Conference" is not, necessarily, a home education conference. It's . . . a whole lot more.
  • Swanson seems to view opposition to whatever-it-is that CHEC happens to be involved in as "attacks from the enemy." Indeed, since Swanson's "good friends from other ministries have witnessed similar all-out attack[s] as well," he feels confirmed in his path. "We must be doing something right!"

    Is it possible--and how is it possible--for a leader with such a mentality ever to acknowledge the possibility he or she needs to make some kind of mid-course correction?

    NOTE: I need to be careful. It has almost always been hard-nosed people with an unbending commitment to a certain objective--all opposition be d*mned!--that have achieved great things for the Kingdom.
  • Interesting that Swanson doesn't state who his "friends from other ministries" are. --Considering what we've been catching from the "Men's Summit" recordings, I doubt he's talking about homeschool ministries. Much more, he's referring to the patriarchalists and family-integrated-church advocates with whom he has been associating.

    How sad that he takes the opposition such edge-of-the-bell-curve "ministries" face as, somehow, confirming the rightness of what he is trying to do . . . and then conflates that all with the stated ministry objectives of Christian Home Educators of Colorado (search for "Statement of Purpose"):
    Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC), is a non-profit, Christian organization, dedicated to providing information, resources and leadership to all families involved in home-centered education. We believe that parents--committing time and resources to provide their children with an academically excellent education, grounded in proper values--have the potential to affect the very course of our nation as their children grow up to become competent Christian leaders in the years to come. Christian Home Educators of Colorado is committed to the advancement of home education, and consider it part of our mission to help ease the burden of this responsibility for all families across Colorado involved in home-centered education.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Rheumatoid arthritis and its treatment

As I mentioned back on May 16, it was looking as if I was likely to be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Well, I got my ALCAT test results by email late last week; I talked at length with Barbara Allan Wednesday afternoon and yesterday morning. (I'll tell you more about the ALCAT results and what Barbara told me in a separate post.)

The really big news is what happened at and as a result of my meeting with the rheumatologist on Wednesday morning.

That was an eye-opening and disturbing experience! I walked away from that meeting with a very different view of the medical profession.

--Yeah. I think it is appropriate to say "the medical profession"--than I did going in.

I mean, I've obviously been having my questions. But here's what struck me on Wednesday.

The rheumatologist looked to be in his early 30s. A very sharp young man. Asian American, for whatever that is worth. (My prejudice: Asian American guys tend to be toward the top of their class. But even without that prejudice, it was obvious to me, he knew his business.)

Upshot of my time with him: "You definitely have rheumatoid arthritis."

He spent about 15 or 20 minutes recounting the evidence for his diagnosis.

So what is to be done?

"Well, we have six drugs we can use--three injectable and three by mouth. We prefer to start with one of the pills."

The pills each have their pros and cons, the weakest--commonly referred to by its patented name, Plaquenil (but known generically as hydroxychloroquine--has the least side effects ("only one," my doctor claimed: "If you don't have your eyes checked at least once a year, it is possible for small particles to collect in your retina and you can become blind. About one in 5,000 patients can suffer that result").

After hearing his descriptions of the other two, I said I'd like to consider the weakest one--the Plaquenil/hydroxychloroquine.

Strange: He seemed, gently, to want to discourage me from that and to take one of the stronger medicines.

I declined. In fact, I questioned his equanimity about the Plaquenil: "I have heard all of the drugs can have rather severe consequences."

No. He flatly denied it. "Plaquenil has only the one potential side effect."

Even supposing he were correct about that--something I seriously doubt, though, at the moment, I was not sure of myself--I told him about my interest in attempting to control the arthritis through diet, as per Barbara Allan's recommendations.

He rolled his eyes and made some comment about nothing working except the six drugs he had to offer.

It was at that point, I think, that my view of "the medical profession" shifted. --I'll say more on that in a moment.

I agreed to try the Plaquenil/hydroxychloroquine and to come back and see him in three months.

As I left his office, I got thinking about what had just happened.

Here's a guy at the beginning of his professional career. He's gone through who-knows-how-many years of high level schooling. He's a sharp guy, full of health . . . and what does he have to look forward to for the next 35 years? Seeing patients like me. Looking at the results of lab tests. Explaining to these patients what the tests mean: "You have rheumatoid arthritis." And then offering these patients their choice of any one of six medicines--his total arsenal of help.

Put another way: He's a drug pusher. Hopefully decent drugs. Hopefully drugs that offer more help than harm. But that's all he can do. Period.

For 35 years.

How boring!

And how hopeless.

The drugs won't cure anything. At best, they will simply slow down and possibly--hopefully--eliminate the damage of the disease. That's all they can do. Dr. David Brownstein wrote in his June 2009 Natural Way to Health newsletter,
As [rheumatoid arthritis] progresses, conventional physicians often prescribe stronger drugs to suppress the immune system, such as methotrexate and Plaquenil. These drugs are associated with a host of serious adverse effects, including depressed bone marrow function, anemia, low white blood cell count, and low platelet counts. They should not be the primary treatment, because of their toxic side effects.

Newer drugs, including Enbrel and Remicade, are second-line drugs for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. These drugs block a protein the body produces during the inflammatory process. However, this protein, TNF-alpha, is an important element in the inflammatory process that should not be blocked for the long term. There are serious side effects with drugs that suppress this protein, including life-threatening infections and an increased risk of cancer.
And meanwhile, despite the risks and despite the relatively limited good news he can offer, my rheumatologist seems rather closed to alternatives.

So Wednesday afternoon, I began my hydroxychloroquine therapy. I took one tablet at lunch, and another at dinner. I suffered some very loose bowel movements (not quite diarrhea, but almost) . . . before dinner, late that evening, and yesterday morning as well. Yesterday morning, too, I was so depressed, Sarita thought I was suicidal. I don't think I was quite that low, but I was very low emotionally. I could hear the weary, hopeless, heaviness in my voice even as I felt it in my mind.

Sarita told me she didn't want me to take any more pills.

I didn't.

And within about another four or six hours--about 14 or 16 hours after I took the second hydroxychloroquine, my mood lifted.

I wrote to my doctor just before noon today, told him of my symptoms, said I was scared to take more pills and (now that I have received my detailed reports from the ALCAT people) wanted to test the food sensitivities hypothesis.

"It's OK to hold off on the hydroxychloroquine," he replied. "We can try the food hypothesis."

So that's where we are.

I look forward to seeing how this "food hypothesis" works!

A "new" area for theological reflection

Last night I was reading the latest (June 2009) Acts & Facts of the Institute for Creation Research. The cover story is titled Dangerous Turn Ahead: Traveling down the road to compromise--a reprint of a March 1988 article by founder Dr. Henry M. Morris.

In the middle of the article, Morris quotes with approval Michael Denton's 1985 version of Evolution: A Theory in Crisis:
Despite the attempts by liberal theology to disguise the point, the fact is that no biblically derived religion can really be compromised with the fundamental assertion of Darwinian theory. Chance and design are antithetical concepts.
--The idea being, I assume, if we were to restructure this statement a little, that "no biblically derived religion can really be [brought into concurrence or concordance] with" the concept of chance or randomness.

Am I correct?

"Chance and design are antithetical concepts." Since the Bible clearly teaches that God not only designed the cosmos but upholds its structure on an ongoing basis (Colossians 1:16-17), therefore, biblical Christians can't legitimately believe in randomness or chance.

And yet. And yet.

Is Denton--and is Morris, who quotes him--correct?

A few thoughts crossed my mind as I read that:
  • As I've discussed in the past, the Bible speaks of God controlling things that appear random to us:

    • "The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD." --Proverbs 16:33
    • "He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes." --Psalm 147:16
    • "Praise the LORD . . . Fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word." --Psalm 148:7-8

    The Bible says God controls these things, but, from our perspective, they are "completely random." --They follow patterns. We can predict probabilities. But there appears to be no strong rhyme or reasons by which we could predict what is going to happen at a particular moment.
  • Pushing forward with the idea of randomness-within-limits (or randomness-under-pattern, or randomness-under-total-control-of-an-outside [sovereign]-power): What about random-number-generators? I mean, even human beings have created such devices or programmed such programs. They are under control; their randomness is within limits. --So what's the big deal about the God of the Bible being sovereign and creating a universe in which he upholds matter to act regularly and consistently as a cosmic "random number generator" on a cosmic/physicalist level . . . in the same way that human-made random number generators act regularly and consistently to produce mere digits? . . . What is the problem with God--either directly or indirectly (through the matter that He created and upholds--being able to control events in such a way that they appear to follow regular, and broadly predictable patterns, yet "only" in a probabilistic sense--i.e., so that they appear to be truly random?

    Couldn't such an insight be part of what God is referring to in Scriptures like Jeremiah 33:3 ["Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know."] or Deuteronomy 29:29 ["The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law."] . . . not to mention Job 42:3, Psalm 139:6, or Proverbs 30:18 which all speak of knowledge that is "too wonderful" for human beings?
I think the young-earth creationists cannot legitimately use the issue of "chance" or "randomness" as an argument "from the Bible" against evolution!

Meanwhile, however, I think it would be helpful for the Christian evolutionary community to do more work on the theology of chaos, randomness, and chance--and the implications of such a theology. It would be helpful if they would pursue such work first at the graduate philosophical/academic level and then communicate the results of their work on a popular level . . . for adults and children.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The "A" Corporation

I don't remember how I wound up at the other day. But I came across the columns of Michael Lind, a man who obviously (to me) tends to come at things from a different direction, politically, than I do . . . and yet, as a result, who challenges me to think new thoughts--something I appreciate deeply.

So I came across his Incorporate this! in which, his subhead suggests, "Now that you and I own GM, perhaps it's time to relaunch a very old concept -- a special kind of public corporation."

I love history. I am "into" economics. I wondered what kind of corporation he might be referring to.

He provides a fascinating overview of the history of corporations (something I had never seen put together in one place before) . . . and--I'd like to give him credit--he offers an interesting public policy proposal:
The shift from legislatively chartered, temporary, single-purpose corporations to registered, immortal, multipurpose corporations has been beneficial for the economy in many ways. . . . However, the increasing flexibility of incorporation has come at the price of a clear link between the corporation and the public interest. . . .

Back in 1996, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) proposed creating a new kind of corporation, the "A Corporation," in addition to the present general or C corporation and the S corporation (in which individual shareholders are assessed taxes for corporate profits rather than the corporation as an entity). In return for favorable federal corporate income tax treatment and streamlined regulations, the A-Corp would promise to locate half of its new investments or jobs in the U.S., provide portable worker pensions and employee training, negotiate agreements with local communities, and undertake other obligations. . . .

[T]he original A-Corp proposal was so overloaded with complex requirements that it was probably doomed from the beginning.

Nevertheless, the idea of chartering particular kinds of private corporations for particular public purposes is a good one that deserves to be revived. Imagine a USA Corporation, which pays a lower corporate income tax, or perhaps no corporate income tax, in return for locating most of its value-added production in the United States [plus any number of additional requirements, several of which Lind outlines--JAH]. . . . [I]f Goldman Sachs could convert itself into a bank holding company, then existing general corporations should be allowed to convert themselves into USA Corporations, if they were willing to fulfill the requirements. . . .

America's financial sector has always been characterized by a diversity of forms, from retail banks and investment banks to thrifts. There is no reason why our large-scale corporate landscape has to be limited so much to general corporations.

The power of ownership that the American people now wield in the case of GM and other corporations is both limited and passing. But the power to charter corporations for the purposes we choose and in the forms we prefer will always be a power we wield as a sovereign people. We the people should think about using our power.
I thought this was a creative and non-coercive idea for those who would want it.

Check out the details.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

I don't watch TV. Maybe you've seen this

Somehow, certain ads tickle my funny bone. --A 32-second diversion.

Pepsi Max - The best video clips are right here

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Welcome to our home!

Beware your small animal door. . . .