August 30, 2005

Katrina

My prayers have been with the people of the Gulf coast (and financial assistance soon to follow), yet I am overwhelmed by the images I see coming out of New Orleans and other areas devastated by the hurricane. Initially, I took reports that New Orleans was spared a direct hit optimistically, yet as I watched new reports of the flooding which has struck that city, I realized that there wasn't that much difference between how bad it could have been vs. what actually happened.

Here are some links to relief agencies providing assistance to hurricane-ravaged areas:
Samaritan's Purse contribute
Salvation Army contribute
American Red Cross contribute
United Methodist Committee On Relief (UMCOR) contribute

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 03:42 PM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2005

A Severe Mercy

Several years ago, when I renewed my Christian faith, my sister recommended a book to me, A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken. The author and his wife were deeply in love, agnostic (or "pagan" in his words), and searching for truth. During his search, he started corresponding with C.S. Lewis. During this correspondence, his wife became a Christian. Sheldon accepted her decision, even following her with his own, yet always placed the marriage ahead of his commitment to God. The book details the early years of their faith, which ended with her death at a young age. Sheldon was devastated, yet came to understand that within that loss, God was calling him to come closer, that her death was "a severe mercy" given to him for his greater good.

Now, since I am about to talk about my cat, I must apologize in advance for equating my pet's death to the loss of a human life. I do so only for the sake of describing my feelings. I definitely believe that there is a wide gulf between the worth of a human life and that of the "beasts that perish", though that in no way excuses wanton acts of cruelty against animals.

When playing outside with my daughter Rebecca today, I was struck by how happy she is even though I have been so sad lately, even crying in front of her. I am encouraged by her energy, her playfulness, and her love for life. My pastor told me not to worry about her too much, for the will to live within a child is very great. They are not yet discouraged by the cares of this world.

I feel a new era is opening up in my life, one that is calling me away from giving my affection to pets, and giving it to God, my wife, and my daughter. This decision is not written in stone, but the way I feel now is that I will no longer have a pet in my house with my name on its collar - that time has past. Rebecca may choose a pet, and I will give it my love, but my affection belongs to my daughter now, and my first love must be for God.

I'm going to open this book "A Severe Mercy" again. I think it has a message for me, again.

Here's a verse that spoke to me today. Though the loss of a pet is not the context, it still comes across strong for anyone feeling great loss and wondering if God is there.


Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Ps 73:25-26 NKJV

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 09:49 PM | Comments (0)

I can't believe he's gone.

Sure I knew he was getting old, and wouldn't be around forever, but I never knew how empty a house could be without him here. I keep expecting him to be trying to get out of the house while the door's open. I quickly shut the door, then catch myself. I don't have to do that anymore. I can't believe he's gone.

I look for him in the backyard when I bring Rebecca back from the playground or out on a stroller or wagon ride. He'll see us coming and get up and meet us by the back gate -- no, he won't, he's not here anymore. I can't believe he's gone.

I expect to feel his nose burrowing into the crook of my arm late at night, his "wet sloppy kisses" as Amy called them, then to curl up in my arm, right on the edge of the bed, because he knows my arm will keep him from falling off. But my arm is empty now, and I can't hear him purring anymore. I can't believe he's gone.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 04:24 PM | Comments (1)

August 13, 2005

General Cat

General Cat passed away early this morning. This is the end of an era for me, the first time to be without a pet for just more than seventeen years. General was born on Friday May 13, 1988, and was adopted into my house, along with his sister Princess, just six weeks later soon after I moved to New Jersey.

General got along well with Rebecca, and was great with her after we came home from China. Often when Rebecca was crying, he would come into the room and just lie down where she could see him, and then she would calm down. I noticed he began to lose his hearing about that time too.

Unfortunately, last year, we found out he had a tumor growing in his tummy which was causing him to throw up constantly. After talking with our vet and discussing treatment options such as surgery and chemotherapy, we decided to waive all that because he was getting pretty old. The vet agreed with our decision, and prescribed Prednisone to make it more comfortable for him, but told us it wasn't a cure, we were just buying a bit more time for him. I prayed that he would get another birthday, and that prayer was answered, but I didn't think I'd get more than that one birthday, so these last three months have actually been some bonus time.

Up until two days ago, he actually seemed to be stronger than a year ago. Then something happened real suddenly. We had put off getting his shots, but now he was due, so last Wednesday he went in for some shots. He went downhill after that. Thursday night he just stopped. No strength, no appetite, and stopped purring when we pet him. It was real disconcerting. We called the vet yesterday, who told us to up the Prednisone and see her on Saturday. Saturday's here now, but he didn't make it. I was with him last night around midnight, and when I went to bed I wasn't confident I would see him alive again.

Seventeen years old, and he's been with me since he was a six-week old kitten. Lots of memories of this guy. He was the last of our four cats, and we lost Trixie less than three weeks ago.

Goodbye General. You were a great cat.





Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 06:34 AM | Comments (2)

August 12, 2005

A Special Day

Today is a special day, not only because it is a birthday for two of my sisters (and yesterday was the birthday for a third!), but it is also the 3rd anniversary of the day when my wife and I submitted our application for our upcoming adoption of Fu Dong Lan, who is now named Rebecca Dong Lan Fuhrmann.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 01:09 PM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2005

A Day at the Races

I wanted to put up a journal entry on the Pennsylvania 500 right after returning from Pocono Raceway, but decided to put it off due to Trixie's passing. Now that some time has passed, here's the entry written now before I forget any of the details.

On Sunday morning, we load up the car with an ice chest filled with lunch (in our case some cold chicken and hamburgers, a few beers and bottles of water). Pocono allows people to bring in a 12x12 cooler that can be put under your seat. I can't think of any other sporting event that lets you do this. Pretty cool. A tip for next time - bring a grill, and cook there. Lots of people do that, and some of the setups are BIG. There was one party in the parking lot where a guy was BBQ'ing ribs for a party of about twenty people (and his grill was about six feet long!). And the crowds! We parked about a half mile from the grandstands (and that was the near end, we had to walk about a half mile after that to get to our seats!), and all we could see was cars and RVs. It seemed the earth was covered with them. Imagine the parking at a football game (I've been to a few, used to live in Dallas and went to one or two Cowboys games each year), and bump it up almost an order of magnitude. Anyway, since the racetrack is so big, more people can sit in the grandstands than at a football game, a lot more, and most every seat is filled as far as I can tell. I'm almost leaving out all the activity outside the track. Trailer upon trailer of things to buy, autographs from the racers if you get there around 7:00 am, games, a salon even - Garnier is a NASCAR sponsor. It's like a city set up for the weekend.

Opening ceremonies for NASCAR races are awesome. It's like the Fourth of July all over again. A military band played a medley of the songs representing our armed forces, and had people who served in each one stand up. Special awards were to given to retiring racers Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin (who came in 2nd and 3rd), presented by US Senator Rick Santorum, who also said the "Gentlemen start your engines!" words. Of course, there's the National Anthem and an opening invocation (which no other sport I know of does).

On to the race. Loud! and fast! Watching a race on TV does it no justice for knowing how fast and furious these cars are. Especially awesome is how loud the cars are as they pass just after a race restart. At that point they're all together and it is pretty awesome as they go past. After a few laps, some stragglers will drift off the tail end of the pack. Trying to spot one car in a crowd is pretty nearly impossible. As they go past the numbers are pretty nearly illegible as it's all a blur. Spotters, the race-team members who watch the cars progress and radio the drivers and pit crew, work in a higher section of the grandstand with a higher view, have more experience, and yet even they have trouble if the cars' colors or sponsorship logos are too similar.

All in all, it was a lot of fun and excitement at our first NASCAR race. We won't go to very many, it is very expensive to go. My racer, Carl Edwards came in fourth, but my fantasy team composed of Kurt Busch, Mark Martin, and Carl Edwards came in 1st, 3rd, and 4th respectively so I trounced my competition. Standings wise, Kurt Busch and Mark Martin are well-placed in the top 10, and Carl Edwards is barely out of it in a close 12th place. The top 10 racers are "promoted" after the 26th race - sometime in September, to the final "Race for the Cup". Kindof complicated to explain, but after 26 races (of 36 total), the top 10 are given a lot of bonus points, so that even though there are 43 cars in each race, only one of those top 10 will be able to win the championship at the end.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)

August 04, 2005

Antiochian Orthodox Church leaves the NCC

Looks like the National Council of Churches is finally being recognized for what it truly is, a political lobbying machine. The Antiochian Orthodox Church has just elected to get out.
IRD link
Antiochian Orthodox link (last item)

The following fundraising letter is similar in tone to letters sent out by Planned Parenthood and People for the American Way. A lot of politics, very little of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (is Jesus even mentioned in it - let's check...no). Seems like Robin Edgar believes that Christians cannot be Republicans.
NCC Fundraising Letter

Mark Tooley writes in The American Spectator, Exploiting the Right

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 10:25 PM | Comments (0)

Interview with Anna Popplewell, Susan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Christianity Today interviews Anna Popplewell, who plays Susan in the upcoming movie, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 10:15 PM | Comments (1)

John Bolton's First Day

James Lileks recaps John Bolton's first day at the UN. Don't be drinking while reading this, it may wind up on your screen! (Hat tip: NRO's The Corner)

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

Smearing the Federalist Society

I've got to admit I'm a bit perplexed by the MSM treatment of the Federalist Society. The leftists have been complaining for four years now of a climate of intimidation and censorship, yet it is they who are performing a witch hunt against a man, accused of membership in a legal society which has as much right to function as the liberal groups many of these leftists are themselves members of, such as People for the American Way.

The Federalist Society is an open organization, whose members believe that the Constitution is the supreme law of our land, in divided government, but who otherwise disagree on many policy questions. There is no secret agenda to take over the country, and any such ambitions by individuals within the society are certainly shared by their counterparts on the left, such as George Soros who dedicated millions of dollars to defeat President Bush in the last election.

Related links:
New York Times link
Federalist Society response (PDF)
David Horowitz comment

And related to the Roberts nomination: how in the world can anyone justify asking a nominee about his religious beliefs when the Constitution explicitly forbids a religious test? The words "Catholic" and "religious beliefs" should be banned from the questions asked to any nominee to the courts.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 10:10 PM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2005

A Comment on Bolton

President Bush made the right call in appointing John Bolton as the US representative to the UN. Critics of the move seem to have more affection for the UN than for the US, and the criticism of Bolton descended to the petty. I'd hate to have a man in that office who had a reputation for being nice. Nice is not what a corruption-ridden organization needs. Nice people, unwilling to get involved, let the Srebenica massacre happen.

Here's the opinon of Ian Williams, writing at The Nation.
A quote:

...although Bush is by no means the first President to abuse the prerogative, it is clear that recess appointments were meant to be be used in cases of unexpected emergencies, not to bypass the confirmation process.

In Williams's view, recess appointments are only alright if made by Democrat Presidents. However, I'd say that the sudden lurch of the Senate Democrats to the left may qualify as an unexpected emergency, especially since Democrats seem to have more sympathy for a corrupt non-working UN, and the tyrannical governments who have weaseled their way into power there, than for America itself.

Another quote:

Almost as worrying is the implicit message of encouragement to the know-nothings on the extreme right of the Republican Party, who get their news and geography from Rush Limbaugh and Fox, and see the UN as a cabal of gun-reforming, gay-liberating, abortion-peddling, US Constitution-undermining foreigners.

Fits for me, though I don't get my news from Rush Limbaugh, as he's a commentator. The UN did try to do a gun grab several years ago, and it was only stopped because President Bush sent a strong person there to say our Second Amendment would not be compromised. The UN pushes abortion with its family-planning programs, and supports China's one-child policy. To the list I could add that the UN is anti-Semitic (a conference was in progress back in 2001, on 9-11 in fact, which would have equated Zionism with racism), incompentent (Srebenica for example), and pro-tyranny. Several tyrannical governments hold special positions within the body. Sudan for example is on the UN Commission for Human Rights. Slavery and genocide, both of which are done in Sudan, are incompatible with the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If the UN had any ability to pass meaningful judgment, Sudan would be kicked off this Commission, along with many others.

Do we need a critic of the UN as the US ambassador to the UN? Of course we do.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 07:58 AM | Comments (0)