Thursday, April 29, 2010
1. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.
2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian .
3. She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.
4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class, because it was a weapon of math disruption.
5. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.
6. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.
7. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.
8. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.
9. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
10. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other: 'You stay here; I'll go on a head.'
11. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.
12. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab centre said: 'Keep off the Grass.'
13. The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.
14. The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran
15. A backward poet writes inverse.
16. In a democracy it's your vote that counts. In feudalism it's your count that votes.
17. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
How to put the fear of God into the GOP
Exclusive: Jane Chastain points to J.D. Hayworth race as potential party game-changer
Posted: April 15, 2010
1:00 am Eastern
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
By Jane Chastain
That check I just put in the mail to the IRS really hurt!
Unfortunately, if something isn't done, and done soon, to roll back the size of our bloated government, that is the smallest check I'll be writing to Uncle Sam in my lifetime.
Rolling back the government is easier said than done. It's a lot easier to take a bone away from a hungry dog. For that matter, it's a lot easier to take a chunk of meat away from an angry lion. Many well-meaning politicians have tried only to discover that the folks on the receiving end of the government's largess make those carnivores seem like pussy cats.
A lot of good people are pinning all their hopes on Republicans taking back control of Congress in the fall election. Even if that happens, it is unlikely they will make a lot of progress.
Let's rewind to 1995 – the first year the GOP controlled both the House and the Senate after spending 40 years in the tall grass of the congressional wilderness. Ah, so many dedicated fresh faces arrived in Washington, it was hard to tell the congressmen from the visitors.
An amazing thing happened that year. The GOP actually passed some rescissions. In other words, they took back some money that had been appropriated the previous year but hadn't gone out the door. That year, everyone was a fiscal conservative. Then, the invincible force met the immovable object, President Clinton.
Our boy Bill had presented a budget that had red ink as far as the eye could see, and the Republicans put their collective foot down. A good old-fashioned brawl ensued that lasted into the Thanksgiving holiday. Clinton refused to budge and shut down the government, not once, but twice. By then, we the people were busy decking the halls for Christmas and completely lost interest.
The battle over spending extended into the next year and the next budget. In March, the Washington Post did a poll that showed that the public was completely unaware that there had even been a vote on a budget that would reach balance.
At that point, these fresh faces were so haggard, they simply threw up their hands and said, "What's the use!" It wasn't long before they began spending like, well, Democrats. In fact, before they lost control of Congress, they were outspending Democrats.
It is time to send a message to the GOP that will long be remembered, and the best way to do it is to help J.D. Hayworth defeat John McCain in the Arizona Republican primary. It will cause more shock waves in the GOP than Scott Brown's election in Massachusetts did in the Democratic Party.
Hayworth is a bona fide conservative. McCain is, well, McCain.
It is nothing short of amazing that the 28-year Washington lawmaker and 2008 Republican nominee for president has a serious challenger. It's even more amazing that by March 16, in a Rassmussen poll, Hayworth pulled to within 7 points of this political icon.
Hayworth is everything McCain is not: He is strong on illegal immigration. In fact, as a congressman, Hayworth helped lead the fight against the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill. He opposes the McCain-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill and rejects the McCain-Feingold legislation, which curbed free speech and helped incumbents get re-elected. Hayworth helped write the Bush tax cuts and supported the Federal Marriage Amendment, while McCain opposed both. Hayworth opposed the nomination of Eric Holder as attorney general, big bank bailouts and the death tax. McCain voted for the former two and against the latter.
This battle is the political equivalent of David and Goliath. Hayworth has managed to raise $1 million in political donations. To McCain that's chump change! Nevertheless, McCain is running scared. He called on Sarah Palin to campaign for him in Arizona and give him some cover with conservatives. He is spending the big bucks on TV, hiding behind heavy-hitting attack ads and refusing to debate Hayworth.
Meanwhile, Hayworth has the support of most politically savvy conservatives, but with his checkbook, for the most part, he must rely on radio. Unfortunately, not everyone who supports Hayworth, in principle, does something tangible.
If you have ever thought about giving a political donation to a candidate that could change the direction of the country, now is the time to do it. If just 1 million true-blue conservatives put their money where their mouth is and gave Hayworth $25 each, he would have $25 million. Now that would help level this playing field.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
American capitalism gone with a whimper
27.04.2009 Source: Pravda.Ru
Retrieved April 13, 2010 from http://english.pravda.ru/
It must be said, that like the breaking of a great dam, the American decent into Marxism is happening with breath taking speed, against the back drop of a passive, hapless sheeple, excuse me dear reader, I meant people.
True, the situation has been well prepared on and off for the past century, especially the past twenty years. The initial testing grounds was conducted upon our Holy Russia and a bloody test it was. But we Russians would not just roll over and give up our freedoms and our souls, no matter how much money Wall Street poured into the fists of the Marxists.
Those lessons were taken and used to properly prepare the American populace for the surrender of their freedoms and souls, to the whims of their elites and betters.
First, the population was dumbed down through a politicized and substandard education system based on pop culture, rather then the classics. Americans know more about their favorite TV dramas then the drama in DC that directly affects their lives. They care more for their "right" to choke down a McDonalds burger or a BurgerKing burger than for their constitutional rights.
Then they turn around and lecture us about our rights and about our "democracy". Pride blind the foolish.
Then their faith in God was destroyed, until their churches, all tens of thousands of different "branches and denominations" were for the most part little more then Sunday circuses and their televangelists and top protestant mega preachers were more then happy to sell out their souls and flocks to be on the "winning" side of one pseudo Marxist politician or another. Their flocks may complain, but when explained that they would be on the "winning" side, their flocks were ever so quick to reject Christ in hopes for earthly power. Even our Holy Orthodox churches are scandalously liberalized in America.
The final collapse has come with the election of Barack Obama. His speed in the past three months has been truly impressive. His spending and money printing has been a record setting, not just in America's short history but in the world. If this keeps up for more then another year, and there is no sign that it will not, America at best will resemble the Wiemar Republic and at worst Zimbabwe.
These past two weeks have been the most breath taking of all. First came the announcement of a planned redesign of the American Byzantine tax system, by the very thieves who used it to bankroll their thefts, loses and swindles of hundreds of billions of dollars. These make our Russian oligarchs look little more then ordinary street thugs, in comparison. Yes, the Americans have beat our own thieves in the shear volumes. Should we congratulate them?
These men, of course, are not an elected panel but made up of appointees picked from the very financial oligarchs and their henchmen who are now gorging themselves on trillions of American dollars, in one bailout after another. They are also usurping the rights, duties and powers of the American congress (parliament). Again, congress has put up little more then a whimper to their masters.
Then came Barack Obama's command that GM's (General Motor) president step down from leadership of his company. That is correct, dear reader, in the land of "pure" free markets, the
American president now has the power, the self given power, to fire CEOs and we can assume other employees of private companies, at will. Come hither, go dither, the centurion commands his minions.
So it should be no surprise, that the American president has followed this up with a "bold" move of declaring that he and another group of unelected, chosen stooges will now redesign the entire automotive industry and will even be the guarantee of automobile policies. I am sure that if given the chance, they would happily try and redesign it for the whole of the world, too. Prime Minister Putin, less then two months ago, warned Obama and UK's Blair, not to follow the path to Marxism, it only leads to disaster. Apparently, even though we suffered 70 years of this Western sponsored horror show, we know nothing, as foolish, drunken Russians, so let our "wise" Anglo-Saxon fools find out the folly of their own pride.
Again, the American public has taken this with barely a whimper...but a "freeman" whimper.
So, should it be any surprise to discover that the Democratically controlled Congress of America is working on passing a new regulation that would give the American Treasury department the power to set "fair" maximum salaries, evaluate performance and control how private companies give out pay raises and bonuses? Senator Barney Franks, a social pervert basking in his homosexuality (of course, amongst the modern, enlightened American societal norm, as well as that of the general West, homosexuality is not only not a looked down upon life choice, but is often praised as a virtue) and his Marxist enlightenment, has led this effort. He stresses that this only affects companies that receive government monies, but it is retroactive and taken to a logical extreme, this would include any company or industry that has ever received a tax break or incentive.
The Russian owners of American companies and industries should look thoughtfully at this and the option of closing their facilities down and fleeing the land of the Red as fast as possible. In other words, divest while there is still value left.
The proud American will go down into his slavery with out a fight, beating his chest and proclaiming to the world, how free he really is. The world will only snicker.
The article has been reprinted with the kind permission from the author and originally appears on his blog, Mat Rodina
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Friday, April 2, 2010
Christian faith: Calvinism is back
In America's Christian faith, a surprising comeback of rock-ribbed Calvinism is challenging the Jesus-is-your-buddy gospel of modern evangelism.
By Josh Burek, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
posted March 27, 2010 at 12:00 pm EDT
Snow falls resolutely on a Saturday morning in Washington, but the festively lit basement of a church near the US Capitol is packed. Some 200 female members have invited an equal number of women for tea, cookies, conversation – and 16th-century evangelism.
What newcomers at Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC) hear is hardly "Christianity for Dummies." Nor is it "Extreme Makeover: Born-Again Edition." Instead, a young woman named Kasey Gurley describes her disobedience and suffering in Old Testament terms.
"I worship my own comfort, my own opinion of myself," she confesses. "Like the idolatrous people of Judah, we deserve the full wrath of God." She warns the women that "we'll never be safe in good intentions," but assures them that "Christ died for us so we wouldn't have to." Her closing prayer is both frank and transcendent: "Our comfort in suffering is this: that through Christ you provide eternal life."
It is so quiet you can hear an oatmeal cookie crumble.
IN PICTURES: Calvinism at Capitol Hill Baptist Church
Welcome to the austere – and increasingly embraced – message of Calvinism. Five centuries ago, John Calvin's teachings reconceived Christianity; midwifed Western ideas about capitalism, democracy, and religious liberty; and nursed the Puritan values that later cast the character of America.
Today, his theology is making a surprising comeback, challenging the me-centered prosperity gospel of much of modern evangelicalism with a God-first immersion in Scripture. In an age of materialism and made-to-order religion, Calvinism's unmalleable doctrines and view of God as an all-powerful potentate who decides everything is winning over many Christians – especially the young.
Twenty-something followers in the Presbyterian, Anglican, and independent evangelical churches are rallying around Calvinist, or Reformed, teaching. In the Southern Baptist Convention, America's largest Protestant body, at least 10 percent of its pastors identify as Calvinist, while more than one-third of recent seminary graduates do.
New Calvinism draws legions to the sermons of preachers like John Piper of the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Here at CHBC, the pews and even rooms in the basement are filled each Sunday, mostly with young professionals. Since senior pastor Mark Dever brought Calvinist preaching here 16 years ago, the church has grown sevenfold. Today it is bursting at the stained-glass windows.
Yet the movement's biggest impact may not be in the pews. It's in publishing circles and on Christian blogs, in divinity schools and at conferences like "Together for the Gospel," where the rock stars of Reformed theology explore such topics as "The Sinner Neither Able Nor Willing: The Doctrine of Absolute Inability."
"There is a very clear resurgence of Calvinism," says Steven Lemke, provost and a professor at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
The renewed interest arrives at a crucial inflection point for American religion. After reviewing a landmark opinion survey last year that showed a precipitous decline in the number of people who identify themselves as Christian, Newsweek declared ominously that we may be witnessing "the end of Christian America."
In some ways, Newsweek may have understated the shift. Five hundred years after Martin Luther posted his 95 theses challenging the Roman Catholic Church, some religion watchers see not just a post-Christian America but an unraveling of the Protestant Reformation itself. Their alarm is rooted in surveys that show a watering down of
Now come the New Calvinists with their return to inviolable doctrines and talk of damnation – in essence, the Puritans, minus the breeches and powdered wigs. Is this just a moment of nostalgia or the beginning of a deeper revolt against the popular Jesus-is-our-friend approach of modern evangelicalism? Where, in other words, is Christianity going?
• • •
When people today hear the name John Calvin, they think mainly of predestination – the controversial idea that God has foreordained everything that will happen, including who will and won't be saved, no matter what they do in life.
What people often forget is that the 16th-century French theologian transformed Western thought both by what he taught and how he taught it. His 700-page "Institutes of the Christian Religion" became the reference manual for Protestant faith. And his detailed and explanatory style of preaching – he spent five years expounding on the book of Acts, verse by verse – became an example for generations of clergy.
Detractors, and there are many, see Calvin as a harsh theocrat who punished heretics (including one who was famously burned at the stake) while molding the city where he preached, Geneva, into a model of his fatalistic and hopeless ideology.
But supporters view him as a man who recovered God-centric Christianity, set the stage for religious freedom, and encouraged countless believers to read the Bible for themselves.
"Like it or not, he is one of the great minds that shaped our modern world," says Gerald Bray, a professor at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Ala. "Ideas of democracy, open-market capitalism, and equality of opportunity were aired in his Geneva and put into practice as far as they could be at that time."
Calvin's influence on America's founding is unmistakable. The nation's patriotism, work ethic, sense of equality, public morality, and even elements of democracy all sprang in part from the Calvinist taproot of Puritan New England. When Calvinist preacher Jonathan Edwards told worshipers in 1741 that they were loathsome spiders held over the pit of hell by the gracious hand of an offended God, he wasn't speaking a heretical creed but the basic vocabulary of American faith. It wasn't until the 19th century that Calvinist doctrines waned.
By most logic, the stern system of Calvinism shouldn't be popular today. Much of modern Christianity preaches a comforting Home Depot theology: You can do it. We can help. Epitomized by popular titles like Joel Osteen's "Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential," this message of self-fulfillment through Christian commitment attracts followers in huge numbers, turning big churches into megachurches.
At the same time, a strict following of the Bible, which Calvinists embrace, hardly resonates the way it once did in American society. The Barna Group, a California-based research firm, recently did a survey to find out how many US adults hold a "biblical worldview" – for instance, believe that the Bible is totally accurate, that a person cannot earn their way into heaven simply by doing good, that God is the all-powerful creator of the universe.
The result: a steeple-thin 9 percent. Among 18-to-23-year-olds, it was 0.5 percent, fewer people than might show up at a Lady Gaga concert. Even among "born again" Christians, it was only 19 percent.
In a separate report, Barna found that more than 6 in 10 born-again Christians say they are customizing their faith, not following any one church's theology. "Americans are increasingly comfortable picking and choosing what they deem to be helpful and accurate theological views and have become comfortable discarding the rest of the teachings in the Bible," the report notes.
The blunt implication: Scripture is no longer the sheet anchor of American spirituality.
This, of course, was the Roman Catholic warning to early reformers five centuries ago: If you break away from the church, orthodoxy will spiral into fancy. By emphasizing sound doctrine and the naked gospel, New Calvinists want to restore what they see as stability to Protestant faith.
Indeed, CHBC has a sister organization called "9Marks," which strives to promote "biblically faithful" churches across denominational lines.
"A lot of people think religion is something you piece together [from] ideas you think are sweet and that you personally find beneficial," says Mr. Dever. "No. It's like a doctor's report.... It's an objective reality. It's just what is."
More broadly, the Calvinist revival reflects an effort to recast the foundation of faith itself. From conservative evangelical churches to liberal new-age groups, the message of much modern teaching is man's need for betterment. Not New Calvinism; its star is God's need for glory. And the gravity of His will is great: It can be denied, but not defied.
"God either knows everything, or He knows nothing at all," says CHBC member Jeannie Hagopian, a young mother from South Carolina.
• • •
As morning light filters into a fourth-floor room on a Sunday, students huddle on tiered seats, listening to a lecture on substitutionary atonement. The teacher poses a tough question, but a hand shoots into the air, eager to answer with a recitation of the week's memory verse from I Peter 3:18: "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God."
Scholars and seminarians call this systematic theology. Kindergartners at CHBC just call it Sunday school.
Their parents are downstairs, absorbing seminars, prayers, and a Scripture-saturated sermon that add up to five hours of worship over the day. Just before noon, the adults jot notes as they listen to an hour-long sermon on II Samuel 5-9. These chapters cover King David's glorious reign over Israel, but Dever doesn't skip the tough verses, such as when God strikes Uzzah dead for trying to steady the ark of the covenant.
"Friends, have we sinned like Uzzah?" he asks.
Such statements are meant to prick the hearts of his listeners. Yet he often follows up the hard questions with reassuring comments like: "You and I should not draw a breath today, without living for the praise of God's glory."
This pattern – convict worshipers of their sin, then show them spiritual elation – has a gripping effect on the assembly. After the service, churchgoers linger for an hour, hugging and sharing heartfelt conversation. "I've come to believe and understand that God is not fundamentally about me; He's much bigger than that," says Dan Wenger, a government employee. "The teaching at this church has helped me to see that in context of the whole story of the Bible, not just the parts that make me feel good."
Dever acknowledges that people might well ask, "Why would God make anybody who is going to go to hell?" His answer captures the essence of New Calvinism. "I don't know," he says. "I didn't do this. I'm just trying to tell you what I think is true, not what I like."
Membership at CHBC isn't for the faint of holy. Classes on theology and Christian history are required before joining. At the "Lord's Supper" once a month, members stand and recite an oath that ties them to one another. In addition to Sunday worship and Wednesday night Bible study, they spend hours each week in small-group study or one-on-one "discipling." They say those sessions – a time for confessions, encouragement, and prayer – are the most challenging and rewarding feature of church life.
"Christian fellowship is so much more than hanging out with friends," says Claudia Anderson, a magazine editor. "It involves spiritual intimacy, support, learning, counseling, and stunning acts of kindness."
Christopher Brown, a lawyer, concurs. "I came for the theology but stayed for the community," he says. "As Americans, we're so individualistic. But the New Testament rebukes this 'rugged individualism.' We're not saved to be lone rangers."
The BlackBerry-wielding Millennials who worship here say they crave teaching that challenges them – "preaching for PhDs," as one puts it. Ask them what books they're reading, and they won't mention "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." They'll reel through names of 17th-century Puritan preachers like a pack of baseball cards.
"The resurgence of Calvinism indicates that America hasn't changed so much as some might suppose," says Collin Hansen, author of "Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists." "American Christianity has splintered in myriad directions since the Puritans settled New England. But the God they worshiped – attested in the Bible, sovereign in all things, and merciful toward sinners through the self-sacrifice of Jesus Christ – still captivates believers today."
• • •
What captivates outsiders, however, is that New Calvinists are restoring the doctrine of predestination – God choosing from the outset whom He will and won't save – to a land that long ago shifted toward a "No Child Left Behind" view of salvation. Taken to its logical end, predestination means God has always regulated everything, even evil.
This belief bothers many Christians. "The shooting at Fort Hood: Did God foreordain that? 9/11? The Holocaust?" asks Professor Lemke, who's also a Baptist pastor and critic of some, though not all, points of Calvinism.
In 2008, Southern Baptist organizers put on a John 3:16 conference to counterbalance tenets of Calvinism, including predestination. [Editor's note: The original text misstated who put on the John 3:16 conference.]
What critics see as a grim and fatalistic doctrine, however, Calvin saw as good news: that God's purposes can be fulfilled despite man's sinful ways.
"To him, predestination was a liberating belief because it says that God can choose anyone, however humble, and use him to overturn the great men of this world," says Professor Bray. "It makes real change possible and puts ordinary people like you and me in charge of seeing it happen. What could be better news than that?"
Many followers agree, adding that Calvinism is not fatalism: You are responsible for you behavior.
"Calvinism is 'big picture' Christianity," says Allen Guelzo, the author of "Edwards on the Will: A Century of American Theological Debate." "It is less interested in asking why God lets bad things happen to good people, and asks instead whether there have ever been any genuinely 'good' people."
For all its controversy, predestination is something New Calvinists accept as part of their take-it-all-or-leave-it approach to the Bible.
"Today we have more Bibles and more study guides to Scripture than ever before, but people know the text itself less and less," says Bray. "This is disastrous. Calvin's deep and expository approach to it is therefore more necessary than ever."
At CHBC, several members say they became authentically Christian only after a friend studied the gospel with them verse by verse. "As I studied the Bible, I saw that God has every reason to send me to hell," says Connie Brown, a kindergarten teacher. "God broke me down – and renewed my heart."
New Calvinists talk about their sin a lot. Despite that – or rather because of it – they exude not guilt but great joy. Their explanation: If we play down our sinfulness, we'll play down our gratitude for the magnitude of God's love and forgiveness.
Many members were drawn to CHBC precisely because they had yearned to be "convicted of their sin" again and grown frustrated with "watered-down preaching." School vice principal Jessica Sandle says she came after the pastor at her former church read a book on growth and became consumed with filling pews. "So he stopped talking about sin, and why we need God," she says.
Another congregant, who declined to be named because he is running for office, was searching for something more substantial as well. "I went to other churches and I came away feeling good, but I came away hungry, too," he says. "They [the sermons] were mercifully shorter, but they'd leave the gospel out, and I wouldn't be convicted of my sin.... Here, your deficiencies are laid bare."
Ultimately, Calvinism's contrast with chummier, Jesus-is-my-friend forms of evangelicalism may highlight a more fundamental change in the world of faith. Bestselling religion writer Phyllis Tickle sees the interest in Calvinism as the first phase of a backlash against the dominant religious trend of today: the rise of "Emergence Christianity."
Emergence Christianity, which she identifies as a once-every-500-years religious shift, is less a doctrine or a movement than a postmodern attitude toward religion itself. Loosely organized, it values experimentation over traditional rules and Christian practice.
"When things go through this upheaval," Ms. Tickle says, "there's always those who absolutely need the assurance of rules and a foundation."