December 25, 2002

Found this quiz in a

Found this quiz in a post at Oblique House. Hope everyone has had a Merry Christmas! Ours was!

What Christmas Carol Are You?

brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 10:36 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2002

Excellent! (Thanks to Rod Dreher

Excellent! (Thanks to Rod Dreher of NRO's The Corner for the link)

I'm going Christmas shopping.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2002

Also taking some time this

Also taking some time this weekend to see my favorite two hockey teams (Devils vs. Stars) play on Saturday. I have two favorite teams, the Eastern Conference's New Jersey Devils, and Western Conference's Dallas Stars (I used to live in Dallas). Who to root for when they play? I root for the Devils, since we live in NJ and go to some of their games (less often than we used to, since we're saving money for the adoption). I hope Stars forward Mike Modano gets to play Saturday. I sometimes wonder if I should write about sports more, the way Mark Byron and Ben Domenech do. I'm a little worried about coming across like an idiot (as if I don't do that already!). I like to watch the games and the standings, but I'm rather rusty when it comes to talking about statistics, the way fantasy football players do. Well, I did notice that the New Jersey Devils, while being neck-and-neck for the Atlantic Division lead, have very few players high up in the leading scorers list. Don't know for sure what to make of that except that it seems that there is a lot of talent spread out among a lot of people, and that they're probably good at winning low scoring games, and playing defense. That's gotta be good for the long term success of the team.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 11:21 PM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2002

The Institute on Religion and

The Institute on Religion and Democracy criticizes the National Council of Churches for their anti-war lobbying.

From the last paragraph:

Culturally, religiously, or politically there is little that connects these religious left activists to most American church members or to the current century for that matter. Their confusion of politics with theology, and insistence that Jesus shares the views of Daniel Ellsberg, remains annoying. But as relics of an increasingly distant era, they are best understood as perhaps entertaining antiquities.

It is ironic that the NCC, which pays no attention to Jesus' words regarding evangelism and fulfilling the Great Commission, seems to know what He would have us do with our foreign policy. I won't comment on the opinions of others, but the National Council of Churches does not represent my opinion on this issue.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 07:04 PM | Comments (0)

Daniel Pipes criticizes PBS for

Daniel Pipes criticizes PBS for their upcoming program Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet. (link via The Corner on NRO)

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 06:46 PM | Comments (1)

While I think the Senate

While I think the Senate Republicans need better leadership than Trent Lott, I also hope he stays in the Senate; after all, he was elected, and it would not be proper for an unelected Democrat to fill out his term (what I heard would happen if he resigned his Senate seat after the beginning of the new Senate's term).

But imagine this extremely unlikely scenario: If Senator Lott were to abdicate his position, suppose Mississippi's governor, a Democrat, nominated a Republican? And when asked why, his reply was "The way the Senate Democrats treated Charles Pickering was a low blow. He deserved better, and I'm going to do my part to make sure that doesn't happen again." Just wishful thinking I'm afraid, but just once I'd like to hear someone put integrity above the party.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 06:40 PM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2002

Tomorrow, Amy and I are

Tomorrow, Amy and I are going to Philadelphia to do some government business, an appointment with the INS. We're going to be getting visas so we can go to China, late 2003 or early 2004, for our upcoming adoption! I haven't blogged too much about it because the process is basically boring, but I promise that when we go over there, I will be, along with pictures! I'll probably set up a personal webpage just for this event.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 11:18 PM | Comments (0)

On the subject of moral

On the subject of moral equivalence, I strongly disagree with Molly Ivin's take on history (link via Best of the Web Today). She states:

Let's see -- where does that leave Christianity, the religion of peace and love, founded by the Prince of Peace? Among the more notable Christian crimes were the unbearably bloody Crusades, the Thirty Years' War, the Inquisition, innumerable pogroms, regular slaughter of Protestants, counter-slaughter by Protestants, genocide against Native Americans (featuring biological warfare), slavery, the Holocaust, ethnic cleansing, Northern Ireland and the list goes on and on and on.

Let's consider these:

  • Crusades: I agree that this is a big ugly spot on human history, but let's note that Muslims invaded Europe too, and I can make the point that the Crusades were a defensive move.
  • Thirty Years' War: No comment - I'm ignorant here.
  • Inquisition: In my opinion, a very bad thing the church did here. Denial of due process and excessive punishment. I won't try to defend this one.
  • Pogroms: Conducted by totalitarian governments, and the totalitarianism is much closer to the root cause than Christianity, judging from the behaviour of other totalitarian governments in the twentieth century. Has any free country, defined as, say a free press and an elected government, conducted a policy of pogroms?
  • Slaughter / Counter-slaughter of dissidents: This was bad too, but the numbers you hear from anti-Christian sources are exaggerated. It wasn't the bloodbath the Unitarians and Humanists make it out to be.
  • Genocide against Native Americans with biological warfare: Mixed judgment here. Many atrocities were done against Native Americans by the Spanish, but Catholic monks also stood up for the natives and stopped the mistreatment. This was not genocide by any means.
  • Slavery: Slavery was ended in England and North America by the efforts of Christians. Slavery still exists in some Muslim countries, such as The Sudan. The claim that Christianity is responsible for slavery is not true.
  • The Holocaust: Many Christians in Germany opposed the policies of the Third Reich. I've written about this before (10/22 archive); I can't link to it, but my point was that their was significant Christian opposition to the Nazis. According to Vincent Carroll and Dave Shiflett, regarding the response of a certain Martin Niemoller:

    " Niemoller bolted into action, inviting fellow pastors throughout Germany to join a Pastors' Emergency League to resist the Aryan paragraph and all other attacks on church doctrine. Within a few months, more than two thousand pastors had signed the pledge -- and that was still before one of the most revealing spectacles of the first year of Nazi rule."

  • Ethnic cleansing: again, the issue of totalitarian governments is at fault here.
  • Northern Ireland: No comment, not knowledgeable enough in this area.
  • on and on: really, how? This is is simple cheap shot, intended to leave the reader with the impression that Christianity is so bad, Ms. Ivins cannot begin to describe it. If she really has more examples, she should provide them.

Why am I not surprised that Molly Ivins works for the same newspaper that gave the negative review of The Radio City Christmas Spectacular because it ends with a living Nativity?

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 10:57 PM | Comments (0)

Speaking of The Nation, Katha

Speaking of The Nation, Katha Pollitt actually has a respectable opinion on the Miss World pageant, much more reasonable than those who blamed the violence on the journalist Isioma Daniel's story stating that Mohammed would have taken one of the contestants as a wife. I actually agreed with her until she started talking about Christianity and its moral equivalence to Islam.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 10:02 PM | Comments (0)

The Nation calls for Trent

The Nation calls for Trent Lott to resign. I actually agree with them on this one, but check out these statements:

Where is the outrage? The general silence is more alarming than Lott himself.
Are the editors of The Nation aware of the Internet? The Blogosphere? There is so much talk about Lott, that Little Green Footballs dedicated a post to saying they wouldn't talk about it! They have a point with Daschle's excuse for it, but they are ignoring (I think intentionally) the commentary from the right, treating it as if it doesn't exist.
Where are the denunciations by those in power? Where are those much-heralded "moderates" in the Republican Party whose commitment to racial equality is not in question?

This may have been written before (it's dated 12-12) President Bush's afternoon speech which served as a denunciation of segregation, a rebuke of Lott's words, but gee, why not update your story? Nahhh, he's a Republican, can't do that.
Their casual indifference reminds us that the convicted and unconvicted co-conspirators from Reagan's Iran/contra scandal are now back in the Bush Administration, once again fiddling with the Constitution and our civil liberties.

The civil liberties is a valid attack point, and one well-discussed within the blogosphere (as is the Congressional Black Caucus' demand for Lott to sell out the Republican party on affirmative action and welfare reform as penance for his remarks). I have no idea what prompted them to think that this had anything to do with the Iran/contra scandal, however. I think this is just piling on, trying to take political advantage, bringing up every negative stereotype of the Republican party whether it's relevant or not.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 09:53 PM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2002

I've noticed that David Heddle

I've noticed that David Heddle is talking about my Weather Pixie with his youth group at his church! He notes that she likes to dress warmly, while his Weather Pixie is a hardened Northeastern type. Well, I'm from Texas, and though it gets real cold where I grew up, in Hereford (in the Panhandle, and about halfway between Dallas and Denver, though not quite in a straight line), I think it just gets downright cold up here in New Jersey, and I couldn't even comprehend living anywhere further north than this. I don't mind it so much when we get snow, but to feel rain falling when it's 32 degrees outside, man that's miserable. In that spirit, I'm glad my Weather Pixie dresses as warmly as she does. In fact, if you go to the WeatherPixie Pixie Guide page, you'll note my Pixie has the largest wardrobe of all the Weather Pixies (except for the Dollz, which I didn't want to consider using - a little too sexy to be appropriate). You go, girl!

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 11:58 PM | Comments (0)

A while back, David Heddle

A while back, David Heddle commented about why evangelical Christians tend to support Israel. I've actually been sympathetic to Israel for a long time, even before I became a Christian (for the record, the Ayn Rand Institute is also pro-Israel in its editorial stance). To say that this is exclusively a Christian or "Religious Right" issue is not an accurate description of Israel's supporters.

From a secular point of view, I agree with the Ayn Rand Institute, that Israel deserves our support because it is a free country, with a foundation of economic and press freedom. I certainly don't see that in the Palestinian culture, where a zeitgeist of victimhood persists, and a totalitarian government censors the press and kills its own citizens without due process.

I've read some editorials recently where it is claimed Christians support Israel because we want war, as if we could call God's hand if we could just encourage a war to get started. This belief is offensive to me; God will do His will regardless of the acts of man, we cannot force God to do anything, except to forgive us when we repent and turn to Him.

From a religious point of view, I support Israel because the Bible says that I will be blessed if I do. I don't think that God's promises to Abraham became null and void when Jesus was crucified. And as far as responsibility for the Crucifixion goes, it is not theologically sound to lay that on the Jews; the Bible makes it clear that the Atonement was for the sins of all men. From that point of view, this is a true statement for everyone: "I am responsible for the Cross, my sins put Him there".

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 11:23 PM | Comments (0)

I've been slow to comment

I've been slow to comment on the Trent Lott controversy. I made my position known soon after election day, and it had nothing to do with Strom Thurmond's birthday party comments. It had everything to do with compromising Republican leadership, which I'm hearing more about today (The Implosion of the Republican Party, link via Instapundit)

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 10:05 PM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2002

United Methodist Bishops tactfully disagree.

United Methodist Bishops tactfully disagree. Last January, Chicago Area Bishop Joseph Sprague gave a speech at Iliff School of Theology, where many elements of orthodox Christian belief were questioned, including the Resurrection, the Virgin Birth, and The Incarnation. (Link to IRD archives on this controversy) Florida Bishop Timothy Whitaker responds.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 02:13 PM | Comments (0)

The Institute on Religion and

The Institute on Religion and Democracy has joined the discussion on What Would Jesus Drive?

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 01:58 PM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2002

locdog talks about planned parenthood's

locdog talks about planned parenthood's holiday card

locdog also has a November 27 post about church and state with which I couldn't agree more.

religious left watch is adding locdog to the blogroll - welcome, locdog!

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 09:53 PM | Comments (0)

Bruce S. Thornton talks about

Bruce S. Thornton talks about The Loony 'Christian' Left
over at FrontPageMag. (link via Rick Penner, my brother-in-law. Hi Rick!)

UPDATE: I don't endorse calling Christians, including ones I disagree with, "loony". Bruce Thornton, writing for a secular publication, is under no such constraint and I respect his evaluation of the Religious Left since he backs up the name-calling with actual reasoning. Don't judge the article by its title.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 09:43 PM | Comments (0)

About my post yesterday on

About my post yesterday on individualism vs. doing God's will

Got an email from a reader, Nigel, yesterday:

In a recent post at RLW you said, "I want to do God's will, give myself completely to Him, however on the other hand, I resist any concept of anyone else telling me what God's will is for me - though I will admit its possibility."

It seems to me that there is a certain confusion possible here, although perhaps it is just the phrasing. When an other person tries to tell me what God's will is, I listen politely, and pray to the Lord that He will open my heart for any message He is try to get to me thru this person. Then I check what they have to say with the Lord, both in prayer and in the Bible. I would be reluctant to say that *I* am the final determiner of God's will for me, rather He is that, and listening to others is good in that it helps me remember not to trust my own heart.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.

Nigel is right, and I, as a new Christian, am learning the truth of this, slowly and surely. When I became a Christian, less than two years ago, I was pretty firmly committed to individualism. I had to start learning to do things God's way; indeed, there was an issue I gave to God right away, surrendering a bit of stubborn rebelliousness right away. As I grow in my Christian walk, I hear my pastor at my church preach about showing more love for our neighbor, using, as one example, Jesus's parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25. Two years ago, I wouldn't have had anything to do with that, but now, I'm finding myself willing to do more and more as I surrender to God's will. I have some serious issues with the social activist groups telling me what God's will is, such as the recent "What Would Jesus Drive?"; I believe they are just using God's name to promote their special interests, but when it comes to doing real things for real people, I'm opening up and telling God "here I am, send me!" more than I did when I was a new Christian.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 09:33 PM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2002

I hit the "post" button

I hit the "post" button on the last entry too soon; I was being called to dinner. My last paragraph didn't come out right. The number 100 million is true (see The Black Book of Communism), but to link those dictators to Jesus wasn't appropriate except as a rhetorical question.

Of course we know Communism was based on atheism. National Socialism, on the other hand, is often used to smear Christianity, as the Catholic Church is cited by many critics of Christianity of endorsing the Holocaust through their silence. I've posted on this topic before (arggh, gotta go find it's in my 10/20 archive, and I can't get the permalink, sorry). Bottom line is, the idea of Christians supporting the Nazis is not true; there was plenty of Christian opposition to the Holocaust, and Hitler's strategy was to corrupt the church, not merely to form a political alliance with it.

Now, to the actual wording. Did Hitler, Stalin, .... consider themselves to be following Jesus? Of course not, but they were following a religious ideal, the concept of the common good. It's a false god however. We all want the common good of course, but what do we do when we disagree? Allow people to act in their legitimate self-interest, and trust that the result will be alright, or force the ideas of an irrational madman on an unwilling populace? Much human suffering and pain has been caused by people who were merely seeking to serve the common good.

Here's a reprint of a post I put on the Conservative Forum of Unitarian Universalists bulletin board back on June 7, 2000. I was not a Christian at the time I posted this, but I am still in agreement with F.A. Hayek's premise after my conversion.

I am currently reading F.A. Hayek's book, "The Road to Serfdom," and he claims there is no real difference between Naziism and Communism. They are both experiments in expanding the role of government over people's lives at the expense of liberty. The book was written in 1944, and was a warning to "The Socialists of All Parties". Hayek wanted to warn Britain of walking the "Road to Serfdom" which Germany had done before. He saw it as a very real possibility.

I am just in the middle of the book, but some highlights so far:

1) Lots of people have wonderful ideas for correcting society's evils, if they could only get their way...,
2) Some of these ideas just cannot be argued against, they are so wonderful (protect the children comes to mind),
3) Unintended consequences occur as people modify their behaviour accordingly,
4) Government closes the loopholes by restricting the people's ability to adapt, and
5) We lose our liberties, not all at once, but just a little bit more with every new law that's passed, until it's all gone, and everyone wonders how it happened.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 09:48 PM | Comments (0)

Mark Byron has a couple

Mark Byron has a couple of posts about altruism and capitalism. I haven't finished reading them yet, but I'll comment here anyway.

My path to Christianity from Unitarian Universalism went through Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. I credit it with breaking the hold of postmodernism which held me in its grip back when I was a UU (always searching for truth, but never being allowed to admit finding it). It took a lot of soul searching to come to Christ, and some lost sleep over leaving a congregation I had attended for ten years (and where Amy and I were married).

The conflict between collectivism and individualism is one that is dynamic in my life. I want to do God's will, give myself completely to Him, however on the other hand, I resist any concept of anyone else telling me what God's will is for me - though I will admit its possibility.

One thing I do not accept however, is the attitude that government can be used to promote God's work, by taking from the rich and giving to the poor. As I've said before, government cannot be compassionate, only individuals have that capacity. Over at the John Heron project (no permalinks), which I link to cautionsly, as he fights back with invective, Wood states:

Of course, running a state along these lines - and I do believe that they are Christian lines, inasmuch as, in my own flawed way, I believe that Christ would have approved of them - is not going to work without laws. But does that make the sharing of property confiscatory? Only if you labour under the misapprehension that anything in a world that belongs to God can belong to mere people in the first place. You look at it that way, you look at our "property" as simply held in trust while we're in this world, well, what's the point of clutching it. You're not taking it with you, are you? So don't be so clingy, already.

I don't believe that Jesus was a socialist. The term's too loaded. But I do believe utterly that in working towards socialist principles, I am following Jesus.

I wonder if Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao-Tse Tung, and Fidel Castro considered themselves to be following Jesus as they implemented their socialist principles, and killed 100 million people doing so.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 08:40 PM | Comments (0)

Planned Parenthood is using teen

Planned Parenthood is using teen recruiters to drum up business, and doing it with taxpayer-provided funding: link 1 link 2 (link 1 via Ellyn vonHuben of Oblique House Hi Ellyn! Welcome to my Blogroll!)

Planned Parenthood is no longer about providing choice, they're running a business, and bringing in the bucks. The sneaky way that they are using teen recruiters, along with laws protecting confidentiality flies in the face of accountability. Ironic, isn't it, how leftists rant and rave about corporate accountability, while ignoring an industry which is directly and intentionally ending human life?

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 08:06 PM | Comments (0)

Speaking of preaching truthfully, here's

Speaking of preaching truthfully, here's a letter from a United Methodist minister, Pastor Raymond Rooney, to the United Methodist bishops, critical of support within the denomination for liberal heterodoxy. Amen!

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 07:54 PM | Comments (0)

Franklin Graham is cited by

Franklin Graham is cited by World Magazine as Daniel of the Year. Congratulations, Rev. Graham, and thank you for preaching the Gospel truthfully!

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 07:50 PM | Comments (0)