Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Pledge

Fifty Boulder Colorado High School students walked out of class today to protest the Pledge of Allegiance and it's phrase for which this blog is named: "one nation under God".

I could go into a rant about public education and the fallacy that the Constitution includes a "separation of Church and state." But I'd rather talk about that phrase which engenders such controversy. Saying that we are one nation under God is not a religious statement, and it does not depend in any way on one's personal opinions or beliefs. It is a simple statement of fact, and its truth doesn't change if you refuse to acknowledge it. It is true whether I believe in Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Diversity, Wicca, Mother Earth, Harvey the Rabbit, or Darwin. How can that be? Simple. Truth is not a function of what I think. It exists independent of my opinion or belief. Regardless of how sincerely or fervently I believe that the Earth is flat, that doesn't make it so.

"One nation under God" is much more of a statement about God than it is about America. We are under God because God is over all, not because we are somehow special or better or more deserving than any other nation. Ultimately, every nation is under God, and the time is coming when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. But why wait? Those who acknowledge God and honor Him experience the blessing of being in His will, while those who defiantly refuse to acknowledge God's sovereignty are missing out on that blessing and instead will experience God's wrath and judgment. Each of us has that choice: life or death, blessing or cursing. Which are you picking? For me, I choose life. And I pray that America makes the same choice.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


In 1884, an English clergyman and teacher wrote a fascinating little book called Flatland, telling the tale of a resident of two-dimensional Flatland, mathematician A. Square. Mr. Square describes what it is like to live in a two-dimensional world and details the workings of their society, where women are thin, straight lines, the lowliest of shapes, and men have various number of sides, depending on their social status. Irregular shapes are looked down upon as inferior, with sharply pointed triangles being the lowest form for a male. These dangerously-shaped men are suited only for life as a soldier, the most degrading of occupations. Regular polygons are highly respectable members of society, the more sides, the better. Mr. Square tells about how these inhabitants of Flatland recognize each other and interact as they go about their lives without any concept of a direction that is "up, but not north".

Then one day, A. Square encounters something he has never seen before: a shape which has no sides at all, but appears to curve smoothly. Even more remarkably, it seems to grow larger or smaller and sometimes disappear entirely, only to reappear somewhere else. As Mr. Square interacts with this amazing creature, he comes to understand that it is a sphere, a three-dimensional creature existing outside of the plane which had defined his entire existence. Mr. Square tried to explain this third dimension to the other inhabitants of Flatland, but they derided him as crazy. This third dimension was beyond their experience or ability to understand, so they concluded that it could not exist.

It occurred to me that trying to understand God is like an inhabitant of Flatland trying to imagine a sphere. God exists outside of time and space. After all, he created them. He pre-existed this universe, and He will continue on after it comes to an end. Just as the sphere could look down on Flatland and see what was happening inside a closed room, God is not bound by the constraints of time and space as we are. He is all-present in time just as He is all-present in space. He does not need to look ahead to see the future. He is already there.

As humans we try to impose our tiny vision and short-sighted wisdom on God, saying "If God were good and loving, he would do things MY way." How foolish of us to think that we know better than God! How presumptuous to think that we can wrap our finite minds around His infinite being. It is unsettling to not fully understand why God acts as He does, but sometimes we must accept that while we don't know the reasons, we trust God and know that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and that He is ultimately in control.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Britney is lame, the sky is blue

There is some kind of big uproar because Britney Spears crashed and burned in her performance at the VMA. I was just curious enough to watch the video of her "disastrous" performance. I have seen her perform before, and each song consists of a meaningless hook repeated a zillion times while she undulates around the stage in almost no clothing. In her VMA performance she repeated a meaningless hook a zillion times while she undulated around the stage in almost no clothing. Her pop star status clearly has a lot less to do with any alleged musical talent and more to do with her trademark belly-button wiggle move. What I fail to grasp is not why this performance is considered to be bad, but rather why it is any worse than any of her other performances.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Marry your cellmate?

A friend directed my attention to a web site which claims to "Assist those following the Biblical tradition of arranging marriages for their Daughters." The site, which I will not draw further attention to by naming, lists underage girls "for sale" as brides. They say that the idea is for parents to list their daughter, her age, photo, and description along with a "bride price". Men can click the "Propose" button to offer to pay the family for the opportunity to marry the daughter. They list Bible references mentioning arranged marriages and paying the "bride price" to the father in exchange for the daughter's hand in marriage.

So essentially you have a web site trafficking in underage girls sold for sex, claiming to be a Christian operation.

But as I looked at the site, there were several red flags which screamed "fake!"

The listings themselves appear to be written to entice pedophiles. The photos couldn't possibly be real -- they look like photos from a teen model contest. And the testimonials are just far too outlandish to be real.

Here is one sample ad, name removed to protect the innocent.

*****’s grandmother married at 13, her mother married at 13, and ***** has decided she wants to keep the tradition going. She would prefer to stay close to her large extended southern family and loves farm or at least rural life. She got an A in Home Economics and has read up on what else would be expected of her as a wife and is looking forward to it.

Notice the thinly-veiled reference to this child being eager for sex. In most of the ads, sexual availability is implied, although carefully never stated.

Here is one of the "Testimonials"

My mother thought I was getting ‘too frisky” and that I had to get married right away before I lost my purity to some high school boy. They found me a husband and my parents were able to keep their house and pay off my mother’s medical bills. I was so glad I could help them, and being married at my age (I'm 16 now) has a lot of advantages, like my own credit card!

Again, suggesting that these girls are just dying to have sex with some older man.

As I looked further through the web site, it mentions that only men living in the United States can use the service. Supposedly this is because they need to follow up on the satisfaction of their customers, and it is just too hard to do that outside of this country. More likely, they only have jurisdiction in the US so they don't want to deal with men in other countries.

They specify that only adult men may "Propose", and all of the girls listed are underage. It is clearly set up to create an illegal situation, but the "Frequently asked questions" list says that it is all legal.

But here is the real ringer.

The web site's html code includes "search engine fodder" designed to bring in traffic from people searching for certain phrases. These key words are inserted into the web page source by the creators in hopes of attracting certain people to their site. So what does this sites key words indicate about who they are hoping to bring to their web site?

Here is a partial listing of the key words:

forced child slave prostitute hooker whore escort teen sexy sex childwatch naked abuse pervert preteen toy buy money sold young single horror polygamy rape slavery hot blonde brunette redhead 13 14 15 16 17 underage illegal teenage delinquent juvenile foreclosure virgin escort
It does not exactly prove that this is a sting operation, but it does prove beyond any doubt that the intentions are not Christian in any way, even in the misguided sense that they claim. It may be a Department of Justice sting operation, or it might be a site trafficking in underage girls for money. I'm leaning towards thinking that it is a sting, but I reported the site to the DOJ Center for Missing & Exploited Minors just to be safe. But either way, what bothers me is that they claim to run this sick operation based on the Bible. The Bible does not command or even endorse arranged marriages, and it absolutely does not condone violating societal standards or laws regarding the proper age for marriage or sexual relations, and the concept of selling a daughter is completely reprehensible by Biblical standards.

So if it is a sting, please don't claim to use the Bible in your operation!

Update: This web site was a hoax, not a sting or a real operation.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

I won the lottery!

There is the old joke about the guy who keeps praying that God will let him win the lottery, and he doesn't win and doesn't win. And finally God tells him "Help me out here. Buy a ticket."

My stand is that if it is God's will for me to win the lottery, He has no trouble providing the ticket. Buying a lottery ticket is a loosing proposition, and therefore is poor stewardship of the money that God has blessed us with.

Today the news reports that four people won the $330 million MegaMillions jackpot, including one person here in Texas. A $330 million payoff on odds of 1 in 176 million sounds like a pretty good deal. What you won't hear them trumpeting so loudly is that no one of those people will walk away with anything remotely close to $330 million. The cash value of the jackpot is $190 million. Split four ways, they each get $47.5 million. But the government, as they hold out that money with one hand, grab back 28% of it with the other hand in taxes, leaving $34 million, or about ten percent of the advertised payout. Spending a dollar for a 1 in 176 shot at $34 million doesn't sound like such a great deal, does it? Not that $34 million is anything to sneeze at. But when you consider that people spent $600 million chasing that jackpot it seems like a case of mass hysteria.

The real winners are those who didn't buy into it. Like me.