Thursday, June 26, 2008

Serious Problems in Evangelica

A new Pew Research survey about Americans and their beliefs about religion has been released. Among the very disturbing findings, is the fact that 57% of "Evangelicals" believe that "many religions can lead to eternal life". Bear in mind, these are supposed evangelicals - those who are supposed to believe in the fundamental doctrines of Scripture. Even more disturbing, though not as surprising, is the finding that 83% of those associated with "mainline" churches believe this very same thing. As I said, this isn't all that surprising because we've known about theological liberalism's influence over the major denominations for decades. It is, however, a bit baffling that any pastor who claims to believe in the Word of God can teach such a thing from the pulpit.

What use is a religion that isn't the only source of truth? If many religions lead to eternal life, why be a Christian? Why not a muslim or a buddhist? The answer lies in one's view of the purpose of religion. For years, liberal theologians have advanced the notion that Christianity is more about our life on this earth than any life thereafter. The idea that Christ came not to save, but to set an example for how we should live is rampant in America's mainline churches. His death did nothing more than show us how much He loves us, and its purpose is actually to prompt us to love Him back, and live as He did. If this is in fact the case, we are all doomed. Show me one person who has ever lived up to such a standard.

I am truly baffled as to how one can read the letters of Paul and still be convinced that Christ's death was nothing more than an example. There are countless assertions throughout the New Testament concerning the purpose of Christ's death and resurrection. His death accomplished our salvation. End of story. The Gospel cannot be any clearer for those who have been given the faith to believe. It is no surprise that churches who long ago abandoned the orthodox teachings of Christianity are so lost. What is most disturbing is the fact that so many who are part of the evangelical movement can be so misguided. And yet, the cause is one in the same.

In recent years, more and more churches within evangelicalism have drifted away from the emphasis on sound doctrine and teaching in favor of marketing campaigns and entertaining services. The results of the Willow Creek model have opened many eyes to what happens when the focus of a church is on growing the numbers and meeting people's needs, instead of opening their eyes to the Truth. Many of us have totally lost the idea of what a church should be. The church service isn't a place for us to have our needs met. We aren't there to sing songs that are appealing to US. We don't need to hear sermons that make US feel good. We are there to worship the one true God for accomplishing our salvation. Our services should be focused on Him - not us. Our pastors should be relaying the truths of Scripture to us ever Sunday - shepherding us back toward the Gospel when we stray, preparing us for a difficult existence in a world that is fallen and cursed.

A church that loses all respect for doctrine and sound teaching will eventually lose it's way. We are sinful. Our natural desires will always lead us away from the truth, as is very evident in the findings above. The comfort lies in the other truths found in Scripture - that God is sovereign in His election and preservation of believers. Even the very faith required to believe in the historical and spiritual reality of the Gospel is a free gift from God.

Euro Final 3

One of the best matches in a while was played out last night in Basel, Switzerland as the world tried to watch.

VIENNA, June 26 (Reuters) - A thunderstorm that cut power supplies interrupted coverage for millions of television viewers watching Germany's thrilling 3-2 semi-final win over Turkey at Euro 2008 on Wednesday.
I have to admit it was pretty frustrating, but it made for some additional drama in what was already an exciting match. Turkey have been the surprise of the tournament so far. Russia are still in, with a chance to make history tonight against Spain, but many already regarded them as a pre-tournament dark horse. Turkey literally came out of nowhere to shock the classy Croatians in the quarter-finals, scoring a last second goal to force penalties. Most regarded Germany as the easy favorites against the Turks, but the match last night showed why the Turkish team has made it so far into this tournament. They opened the scoring in the first half, thanks to some comic goalkeeping from "Jennifer" Lehman, only to concede an equalizer 4 minutes later. Some had expected Turkey to play cautiously in such a huge match, but to their credit, they were the best team of the opening period, hitting the bar twice, and putting a lot of pressure on the much-heralded German defense.

Miroslav Klose managed to put the Germans ahead during one of the several black-out periods, when the international feed was interrupted by bad weather, and it looked like they would shut up shop and cruise to the finish. The Turks didn't see it that way, however, and equalized late in the half. It looked as if we were going to see yet another match finish with extra time, but Philip Lahm, who was largely responsible for allowing the Turks to equalize at 2-2, scored a brilliant winner in the 90th minute to give Germany the win. The feed stayed in tact just long enough for the world to see Lahm's winner, but the final moments of the match were blacked out as Germany booked their place in the final.

Tonight promises to be the match of the tournament as the young sides from Spain and Russia will duke it out for a chance to take on Germany.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Structural Engineer's Nightmare

What is it with architects? They're always pushing the limits of feasibility. I suppose that's a good thing, and I usually admire, if grudgingly, their creativity. After all, if it were left up to us engineers, every building would be perfectly square with no windows and little regard for asthetics or other such frivolities. Generally speaking, however, we do like to design buildings so that they stay in one place. Apparently, thanks to an Italian architect, we will no longer have to suffer the idignity of living in such boring stationary structures, as he has decided to build a skyscaper that moves...on purpose.
"Italian architect Dr. David Fisher announced on Tuesday the launch of a revolutionary skyscraper in Dubai dubbed as the "world's first building in motion", an 80-story tower with revolving floors that give it an ever-shifting shape. The spinning floors, hung like rings around an immobile cement core, would offer residents a constantly changing view of the Persian Gulf and the Dubai's futuristic skyline."
I can only imagine the complexity of trying to design such a structure. Which brings us to this rather reassuring paragraph:
"Fisher acknowledges that he is not well known, has never built a skyscraper before and hasn't practiced architecture regularly in decades. But he insisted his lack of experience wouldn't stop him from completing the project, which has attracted top design talent, including Leslie E. Robertson, the structural engineer for the World Trade Center and the Shanghai World Financial Center. "I did not design skyscrapers, but I feel ready to do so," Fisher said."
Well, at least he "feels ready". Thankfully, he's got an experienced structural engineer on the team, and I'm sure it'll be the subject of a Discovery channel show very soon. So, we'll all get to see how this thing goes together. According to the article, each floor will be prefabricated, and shipped to the site for installation. MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) systems will negotiate the interface between rotating floors and the immobile core using technology similar to that used by aircraft for in-flight refueling. Apparently, the entire building will be powered by wind turbines mounted at every floor, and tenants will be able to park their cars in their own apartments, thanks to a special lift system. Pretty ambitious! And they say New York will get one as well.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mac-Town Grows

So, everyone's interested the new development going on in North Bibb County right now. That area of Macon is just exploding with some pretty upscale development, so I thought I'd use my limited insight into the construction market to see what we can expect from all of this new construction. We're all enjoying the newly opened Shoppes at River Crossing - the new Barnes and Noble is especially nice - and we have several more additions in various stages of development to look forward to. Among those "Coming Soon" to the Shoppes at River Crossing are a new Belk, Circuit City, Chili's, Wild Wings Cafe, Sticky Fingers, and more.

North Macon Towne Centre, just off the interstate on Bass Road, is underway as well. According to the developer's brochure, the new construction will include both residential and retail space:
"...a multi-story, 700,000 square-feet mix of retail, restaurants, office and residential, including apartment lofts and upscale hotels. The pedestrian friendly Main Street is designed to complement Central Georgia's most afluent neighborhoods. North Macon's convenient lifestyles are enhanced by loft apartments above specialty retail shops, sidewalk cafes, and fine restaurants, with upscale hotels and professional offices nearby."
Phase 1, already underway, will consist of 5 new 3-story buildings housing restaurants and retail on the ground floors, with over 200 loft apartments above. The first phase also includes a Hilton Homewood Suites hotel, a new Central Bank branch, and a 3-story professional office building, currently still in the design phase.

Phases 2 and 3 are still in the planning stages, but may include an additional 300,000 square feet of similar construction, as well as a small amphitheatre on Lake Wildfire and a Nature Preserve with walking trails.

Also in the area, we can look forward to a new Publix (don't worry, word on the street is that they're going to keep the one on Tom Hill, despite a new store two exits away), a new Lakeside Commons office park, and more. There are also rumors of a new Target and Home Depot in this area, but as yet unconfirmed. Click on the photo at the top, courtesy of the retailworks website, to see an enlarged image of the overall development in the Bass Road area.

U.S. Forces Soundly Beaten In Iraq

Ok, so the headline is a little dramatic. And before all the Democrats out there start celebrating, let me clarify...

A group of U.S. soldiers were soundly defeated by a band of former a soccer match.
"MULTAKA, Iraq — A soccer game on a dirt field between two amateur teams - one U.S. Army soldiers, one local Iraqis - may not seem like a big deal in the scope of the wider war. Especially when it's a blow-out by the Iraqis; when both teams are playing in running shoes, not cleats; when the nets are thin blue mesh; and when only a couple hundred fans brave the 108-degree temperature in this town due west of Kirkuk."
But the match is a symbol of something much more important (and, no, it has nothing to do with the left's dreams of our big, bad, imperial military drooping home in defeat after it's failed "occupation").
"For one thing, it was the third time in recent days when American soldiers donned shorts and "Salute to Our Fallen Heroes" T-shirts to go head-to-head and foot-to-foot with teams of opponents who, only months ago, may have been trying to kill them. For another, the soldiers were playing without body armor — a sign of improved security in the sandy Hawijah District patrolled by units of the 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum, N.Y."
It's certainly not all peaches and cream over there, but isn't it funny how the media has suddenly stopped giving us wall-to-wall coverage of the Iraq war in recent months? I'd say that's probably the best indication of all that things are, in fact, improving.

But, hey, I've got an idea! Now that we're finally beginning to gain some ground, and are finally gaining the trust of the locals, who once wanted us out, let's elect a president who promises to ensure our defeat, and abandon the promises made to the Iraqi people! That'd send a great message to the world: America hasn't the stomach for extended conflict, so we're just gonna pack it in.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Euro Final 4

Euro 2008 has been a pretty exciting tournament so far. Several of the pre-tournament favorites have already gone home, but I'm hoping Spain can now get shod of their deserved label of underachievers and go on to win it. I've been a big fan of European football for a while, and we've seen some of the best (and worst...Turkey is the new Greece) football in this tournament. Despite the anti-football that Turkey play, they have somehow managed to get through to the semi-finals where they face a somewhat inconsistent, but powerful German side that will be brimming with confidence after throwing Cristy Ronaldo and his fellow Portuguese ballroom dancers to the curb - a beautiful site for this Liverpool fan.

The other semi will see Spain take on the tournament's other over-achieving side in Guus Hiddink's Russia. The Dutch master Hiddink is probably not the most popular figure in his native Netherlands after knocking his compatriots, Marco van Basten's "Oranje", out of the tournament in the quarterfinals. For those who are familiar with world footy, I suppose it's no surprise that Hiddink has led yet another relative underdog into the final stages of a major tournament. The big surprise was the Dutch capitulation to Russia after a blistering start to the tournament. The Netherlands easily won the tournament's "group of death", spanking both the current World Cup holders and runners-up, Italy and France, respectively, by a combined score of 7-1. After their second string cruised past Romania 2-0, the Oranje looked unstoppable.

And yet, Hiddink's Russians looked the more confident team, especially in extra time, and went on to win 3-1 to book place in the semis. Their opponents, Spain, took all of extra time and penalties to knock Italy out last night. It was a deserved win - Spain was the only team trying to win the match in regulation, as Italy was content to sit back and defend (it's what Italians do, after all) - and I'll be pretty excited to see how the Spaniards fare against Russia. Spain has looked very confident in all of their matches so far, and with the largest contingent of Liverpool players, they're definitely my favorites for the trophy. I do wish Aragones would quit pulling Torres off in the second half of every match. I realize David Villa is the tournament's leading scorer, but Torres has a knack for creating goals out of nothing, and Spain could've used him last night in extra time.

Well, that was a nice break from our usual more serious subject matter. I'll try to continue posting my thoughts as the tournament progresses.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Time to DRILL

It really baffles me that we've let a minority of crazies prevent us from accessing the billions of barrels of oil in our own backyard for this long. It's taken $4/gallon gasoline to wake people up to the fact that we could be doing something about our dependence on anti-American terrorists for the lifeblood of our economy. (And yes, like it or not, our economy would collapse without a continued supply of oil) In fact, we could have done something about this years ago. If it wasn't for Bill Clinton, we'd be pulling oil out of ANWR right now.

I realize that finding our own supply of oil is not the complete solution to our energy problems. There are many factors contributing to the high cost of gasoline right now - for great analyses of these factors, see the many posts by blackhedd at Redstate - but one factor that everyone agrees is contributing significantly to the price of oil is the lack of supply. Combine the fact that, according to many experts, global oil supply has peaked for the first time ever, with China and India's explosion in demand for oil, and you only need a basic understanding of economics to realize that higher prices will result. Decreased supply + Increased demand = higher prices.

There are changes to the above equation which will result in lower prices: Decrease demand, increase supply, or both. Of course, the assumption that we remain true to free market principles of economics is taken for granted. Based on the rhetoric of some Democrats lately, that assumption may not be valid. The socialist's solution to this is simply have the government control the price, or even the supply, of oil. I'm too young to remember the 1970's, but from what I hear, that little experiment in price controls didn't go over well. We've already seen examples of Democrats' disdain for the free market with their mandating of fuel economy standards for vehicles, not to mention their outright ban of the lightbulb.

So, according to most "environmentalists", the best solution by far is to decrease our demand for oil. It's not that difficult - just stop using it, mkay? Right. I think we can all agree that, barring the discovery of a car that runs on B.S., that solution just isn't feasible right now. That's not to say we shouldn't be developing alternative fuels. The simple fact is that we are. Right now. It doesn't take a genious in marketing to realize that fuel-efficient is the new holy grail for vehicle manufacturers. You see, that's the beauty of free markets.

Suppliers are pretty good at reading what consumers want, and it's pretty obvious that consumers want an alternative to gasoline-based transportation. Evidence of the free market at work solving this problem is abundant. You can't watch a television show on any channel without seeing a commercial advertising eco-friendly or fuel efficient. The greatest minds in science and engineering are right now at work on this very problem, and guess what? They don't need the most inefficient bureaucracy ever established (our government) telling them what to do. Got that Pelosi? Let American businesses do what they do best. Innovate. And get the @%#! out of the way.

Now I feel better. The other solution, as mentioned above, is to increase supply. Here we see where common sense has once again - shock of all shocks - been cast aside by our hapless leaders in Washington. We can't access the billions of gallons of oil in our own country, relying instead on oil-rich nations who would like nothing better than to see our economy collapse. It's time to access that oil right now, if for no other reason but to buy us the time to let American ingenuity work out another solution. The simple announcement that we are opening up ANWR and other areas off the coast to oil exploration would produce an instant drop in the price of crude oil, and send a message to our suppliers in the middle east and elsewhere.

The technology now used to harvest crude oil is pretty remarkable, and leaves an almost negligible footprint on the surrounding environment. The Prudhoe Bay sight now in operation, right next door to the proposed ANWR sight, is a great example. The caribou population in the region has thrived since its inception, despite the ridiculous warnings from those opposed to the project.

Opening these regions to oil exploration is not a permanent solution to our problems. But it is a common sense approach to the current crisis, and would have an immediate impact on gasoline prices. We must continue to develop alternatives, but until we have something viable, this is really our only option.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Obama and "Evangelicals"

Our favorite presidential candidate has formed a new organization to help himself appeal to "young evangelicals." The Joshua Generation will apparently focus on attracting people, well, like me...

well, he can try...

But there is a group of "evangelicals" who are backing the Obama in droves. The Emergent Church movement seems to love him. I've been doing a bit of research on this new movement, and I have to admit that it doesn't surprise me one bit that the Emergents are backing Barack. The Emergent movement seems to be just a re-packaging of early 20th century theological liberalism. This group is seeking to change Christianity and how it relates to the surrounding culture. We're too old-fashioned, and need to adapt to a "post-modern" society, dontcha-know. The bottom line is that it ends up watering down the one and only Truth of Scripture by placing it in a man-made box. And, once again, we end up with the Social Gospel:

Jesus came to show us all how to live, not "save us." I mean, like, save us from what? We're all, like, basically good, right? People don't want to hear all this stuff about needing a Saviour...we need to, like, totally relate to people on their level...find out how to meet their needs and make them feel good inside...and stuff.

Forget about doctrine, or defining what we believe in any way. That's all up to the individual, right? We're all enlightened by now, anyway. Evolution has taken it's course, and we don't need to believe those silly fairy-tales in the bible to get to heaven, or wherever...

It's no wonder so many of these folks can get past Obama's support for an abomination like abortion on demand, or his blasphemous "spiritual advisors" - not to mention his complete lack of anything like experience or qualification for the job. It's all about soaring rhetoric and hope/change you can believe in, after all. Tony Jones, one of the leading voices of the Emerging movement seems to be very proud of the fact that he's a "fiercely independent" voter. It sounds like the only thing his vote is independent of, is a Biblical worldview.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

McCain vs. Obama

We all got a pretty good look last night at the two candidates who, it now appears, will be facing off over the next few months. McCain's speech was great - on paper - but pretty awful as public campaign speeches go. Obama, on the other hand, gave a very good speech. He had something like 17,000 people in that auditorium, with another mile-and-a-half-long line of folks waiting to get in. The guy can give a speech, and unfortunately, for a lot of Americans, that ability trumps anything else. People are so tired of hearing Bush trip over himself trying to say the word "newkyaler", that they're willing to take anyone who can articulate himself clearly.

Many in GOP circles are writing this off as irrelevant, but I'm not so sure. In my last post, I made the case that Americans will eventually want to hear about what these men will do once elected - sure, it helps that they can say it with passion - but they'll want more than empty, generic promises. Well, I'm not so sure anymore. Obamania seems to be more pervasive than an airborne virus. And what exactly did Obama do to get elevated to this position, other than give great speeches?

Let's see, he's been a state senator in Illinois and a U.S. Senator for less than half a term. He has, literally, no other experience in anything that would even come close to qualifying him for this office, and yet folks started jumping on this bandwagon before they even knew anything about him. People have been fainting in his presence...does he have a problem with bad breath? He's not particularly handsome, so I'm really at a loss to explain this phenomenon. This man should be any political candidate's dream opponent! And yet, as a conservative with serious concerns over the future of this nation as it will exist for my daughter and her children, I'm not optimistic.

I'm not a huge fan of John McCain, but we've got to do everything we can to get him elected. He'll make a lot of bad decisions - he's already shown a propensity for abandoning conservatism - but the alternative is unthinkable. On the one hand we have a moderate, but still conservative, man who will be a strong, experienced leader against an increasingly hostile world. On the other, we have an elitist socialist, who promises to make Jimmy Carter's coddling of anti-American dictators look like child's play. Imagine a Democrat-controlled House and Senate, and a president with an agenda that would make a Marxist blush. Higher taxes, increased spending, socialized healthcare, surrender to Al-Qaeda, and more nanny-state government would only be the beginning...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Could This Be The End...?

It's looking more and more like Obama will be the Democratic nominee for president. I can't decide if that's a good thing or not so much...from my position, having this man as our president is a horrifying possibility. Of course, according to the media and other followers of HopeChange Incarnate, that must be because I am a racist. This is, after all, a black man. The only issue that matters, therefore, is race. Or didn't you know that one is not permitted to question a candidate's positions on specific policy if said candidate is, a) a minority, or b) a woman? We must all look past any lingering doubts about a candidate's experience (or lack thereof), judgement, socialist views (and spouses), and the potential for running America into the ground, in order to accomplish that much greater goal of electing a minority to the White House. Don't worry about what he'll actually DO once elected. After all, anyone would be better than George W. Bush-Who-Lied-and-Hates-Black-People! LIED!

Back in February and March, before the Rev. Wright poo-poo hit the fan, I was genuinely concerned about any GOP nominee's ability to stop the Coming of Obamessiah. People were losing their minds over this guy. But in the last few months, Americans have clearly been affected by the revelations concerning Obama's association with people who use a pulpit for spreading hatred and division. The Uniter's "spiritual advisers" and "dear friends" are the very antithesis of unity. I think it's become pretty clear, even among Democratic voters, that Obama may not be the stronger of the two candidates. Many within the Democratic party are probably wishing they had looked a little more closely at this guy before jumping on the Hope/Change train to utopia.

So, what will the Superdelegates do? They are, after all, in place to save the party from the ignorant decisions of voters. Their sole purpose is to make sure the often shortsighted voters don't make a mistake and saddle the party with an unelectable candidate. It appears that they will try to avoid the anger of black voters, giving Obama the nod despite the fact that he has won not a single swing state, or for that matter, the popular vote. In the meantime, they risk the wrath of the female vote. (yes, this is what happens when you make the election entirely about race/gender instead of policy)

It's all very entertaining to be honest. And it can only help our side. The American people will soon tire of hearing about a candidate's innate physical properties, as if one's race or gender was some proud achievment to champion as credentials for public office, and the debate will turn to policy. What will these people do to drive down the price of fuel, food, and other goods, and bring our economy back in line? How will they handle the wars and continue to ward off those who would destroy us? What will we do about our open borders, the impending social security crisis, and out-of-control government spending?

Or, for our more liberal voters, here's an alternate list: What what will they do to ensure evil oil companies (or, heck, evil corporations in general) get punished for making a profit while destroying the Earth Mother? How soon will they end our war of occupation, and surrender to those poor, misunderstood but otherwise peaceful jihadists? How soon will this person, as president, use the first of his/her three wishes from the White House fairy to eliminate our dependence on oil and the evil internal combustion engine by creating an alternative fuel that produces energy through the burning of corporate CEO's and other capitalist pigs? What will they do to see that Bush (LIED!) is prosecuted for LYING!, stealing an election, killing black people with a hurricane, starting a war for oil, LYING!, causing global warming, murdering innocent women and children in the Middle East with a war for oil, LYING!, and every other disaster (natural or otherwise) that falls upon mankind over the next 25 years.

This will certainly be a Change election. Voters are sick and tired of the current situation in Washington. But, people will eventually want solutions - solutions that involve detailed, feasible responses to the problems we face. Empty generic promises of "Hope" and "Change" aren't going to cut it.