Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Night Frozen Dinner And An Intellectual: "There Is A God: How The World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind" by Antony Flew. Part II

Last Friday my brother and I went ate at a Mexican restaurant and engaged in a political discussion. After that, I went to a coffee house and ordered coffee and two small dark chocolate squares. I am not supposed to consume sugar, but dark chocolate is good for the blood pressure. Since they were only 50 cents each and very small, I felt neither fear nor guilt. After all, after any discussion of politics with my brother, I need something good for the blood pressure. As I consumed my coffee and medicinal chocolate, and listened to who knows what on the loud speaker, I read Part II of Antony Flew's "There Is A God: How The World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind". I will give a brief summary of most of the chapters.

Pilgrimage Of Reason: Here Flew outlines what he believes concerning creation by an Intelligence. Flew believes that a Divine Intelligence created the universe based on three reasons. One, nature obeys laws. Two, the dimension of life, the rise of intellectually organized and purpose driven beings from matter. Three, the very existence of nature. Flew does not attribute his shift in thinking to any new phenomenon or argument. He switched from atheism to theism because of his constant assessment of already existing evidence. (Flew, There Is A God, p. 89) Science was not his only guide; as a philosopher, philosophy played a significant role in the formation of his views on life's origins. How does Flew justify bringing philosophy into the quest for the origin of life? Flew's answer is that when one is researching something such as the chemical interaction of two particles, one is engaged in science. But when one speculates as to why these two particles, or anything physical exists, then one is engaging in philosophy. "When you draw philosophical conclusions from scientific data, then you are thinking as a philosopher." (Flew, p. 89) Remember that Flew has not embraced the Triune God, but his God is the God of Aristotle, and according to Flew, his journey to theism has been one of reason and not faith. (Flew, p. 92-93)

Who Wrote The Laws Of Nature?: Flew examines what modern scientists have believed about the study of the universe and its origins. Einstein believed in a God apart from nature; Einstein stated that "he who knows nature knows God, but not because nature is God, but because the pursuit of science in studying nature leads to religion." (Flew, p. 101) Flew spends most of the chapter demonstrating that many of the 20th century's most important scientists have believed in God, though not necessarily claimed to be Christians. He also tackles briefly the atheist belief that the laws of nature exist unreasonably therefore making the universe absurd. This is an argument that collides head-on with the assumption of order in the universe that made modern science possible. Flew concludes this chapter by claiming that "Those scientists who point to the Mind of God...propound a vision of reality that emerges from the conceptual heart of modern science and imposes itself on the rational mind. It is a vision that I personally find compelling and irrefutable." (Flew, p. 112)

Did The Universe Know We Were Coming?: This is my favorite chapter in the book because it asks a question I have never heard asked before: If there was no divine intelligence responsible for the creation of the earth and the universe, then why does it seem that the laws of nature seem to have been crafted so as to render the universe capable of the creation and reproduction of life? Why was this the case before the emergence of living creatures? (Flew, p. 114) Flew also challenges proponents of the "multi-verse." Those who propound this theory believe that not just one universe was created, but several were created and ours just happens to contain the conditions that support life. Flew quotes Richard Swinburne in debunking this theory: "It is crazy to postulate a trillion (causally unconnected) universes to explain the features of one universe, when postulating one entity (God) will do the job." (Flew, p. 119)

How Did Life Go Live?: Flew points out this problem: most scientists seeking to explain the origin of life rarely explore the philosophical implications of their work, philosophers on the other hand rarely address issues concerning the nature and origin of life. Flew quotes philosopher Richard Cameron as stating that Aristotle did not consider the existence of life and teleology (the philosophical study of purpose and ends) to exist together by chance. "Aristotle", Cameron says, "...defined life in teleological terms, holding that teleology is essential to the life of living things." (Flew, p. 124-125) Flew quotes another philosopher, David Conway, challenging the contention of some such as David Hume that life was not originated by any form of intelligence. To prove Hume's contention, according to Cameron, two things must be explained: how did living matter with teleological organizations emerge from non-teleological, non-living matter, and how did life forms that can reproduce themselves come into being without the guidance of an intelligence? (Flew, p. 125-126) And what about the existence of DNA? Where did an environment that can interpret the meaning in the genetic code in living creatures originate? (Flew, p. 129)

Open To Omnipotence: Science alone cannot furnish evidence for God's existence, according to Flew. But three items of evidence can only be explained in terms of the work of a Divine Intelligence: the laws of nature, life with its teleological organization, and the existense of the universe. "Such a discovery of the Divine does not come through experiments and equations, but through an understanding of the structures they unveil and unmap." (Flew, p. 155) When Flew was growing up, the question of why evil was allowed to exist by a loving God led him to become an atheist. Now Flew believes that the existence of evil is not evidence for there being no God at all. "Certainly the existence of evil and suffering must be faced. However, philosophically speaking, that is a separate issue from the question of God's existence. Nature may have its imperfections, but this says nothing as to whether it had an ultimate Source. Thus, the existence of God does not depend on the existence of warranted or unwarranted evil." (Flew,p. 156)

Tonight I finish reading "There Is A God." I will reread the introduction and the appendices plus some of Flew's statements on Richard Dawkins and his atheistic views. The second appendix is a conversation between Flew and N.T. Wright, whom Flew states gives the best apologetic for the Christian faith. As for Flews views on Christianity versus the world's other religions, Flew states that ' other religion enjoys anything like the combination of a charismatic figure like Jesus and a first-class intellectual like St. Paul. If you're wanting omnipotence to set up a religion, it seems to me that this is the one to beat!" (Flew, p.157)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Matters Of Life In The U.S. And U.K.

The Stand To Reason Blog ran a post in October on when does life begin. It seems from the evidence it cites that there is less controversy concerning this matter in the scientific community than the public has been led to believe. The blog links to a White Paper which outlines the scientific evidence that life begins at the moment of conception. I may feature this White Paper soon on this blog. After reading this, no one should be able to claim that the question as to when life begins is above any one's pay grade.

The next stories are from the BBC. These two concern matters I thought we would be likely to deal with in the future. But I was wrong. The issues have been made present concerns. The first article features claims by scientists that frozen embryos are more likely to be born healthy that non-frozen ones. Particularly, they are less likely to be born prematurely. Would a nation that forces National Health Care upon its citizens create incentives for women to freeze embryos to relieve the state of the burden of caring for those born prematurely? Could there be a choice given by the state to women that the state either pay for this "service" or pay for an abortion? The other story is even more surprising. Did you know that a procedure exists to surgically determine the sex of a child? It does exist but is not legal in all countries. You would think that it would be legal in the U.K. and Europe, but it is not. But it is legal here in the USA. Often times the procedure produces more than one child in the womb and so abortion is provided for if the couple does not wish to have more than one child from the procedure. A British Doctor is quoted as being worried about the burden of multiple births, not just on the mother, but on the National Health Service. Amazing. If some children should be born, their lives would cost the government!

Obama would appreciate this, in fact, he voted for something very much like it in the Illinois Legislature. It seems that the British Government would like to begin sex education classes in their schools starting at age five. The government says it will work with religious schools to make sure those school's values are not ignored. But what of those religious groups that oppose all sex education classes in schools? Will sanctions be brought against them to bring them into line?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Current Happenings In Afghanistan

It is very likely that the United States and its allies will be sending more troops to Afghanistan. There are already 33,000+ soldiers already operating there against al-qaeda and the Taliban. When troops currently serving in Iraq are redeployed to Afghanistan, the news will shift from Iraq to Afghanistan. (Provided that the current stability in Iraq is maintained.) While some hope that the same tactics that were implemented in the Surge in Iraq will produce identical results in Afghanistan, some experts believe an entirely different approach is what is needed in Afghanistan: see this article from Reuters. The Taliban vows that it will eventually win the conflict, yet they fear a peace deal between the current Afghan government and al-qaeda would leave the Taliban out in the cold. There are rumors that such a deal is in the making,but al-qaeda might be correct that the rumors are a tactic to split al-qaeda and the Taliban. If that is the case, we can only pray for the success of such tactics as we pray for the Afghan people who are suffering from decades-long warfare.

Since more American troops may be sent into harms way into Afghanistan, I though it would be helpful to link to a few recent news stories coming out of that country. First, the negative:

1. The killing of a Christian aid worker by the Taliban.

2. A recent suicide bomber murders civilians.

3. An attack on young school girls with acid.

4. Treatment of Afghan women prisoners.

And now the positive, how Afghan civilians are responding against militant Islam and working to create a better life for themselves:

1. Afghans protest publicly against the murder of their fellow citizens.

2. Literacy used as a weapon against the recruitment efforts of militant Islam.

3. The milk trade promises to raise many Afghans out of poverty.

One of the reasons why that the tide turned for the Coalition Forces in Iraq was the civilians disgust with the barbaric cruelty that al-qaeda inflicted upon them. The same may happen in Afghanistan as civilians see what militant Islam has in store for them. This phenomenon may be repeated where ever militant Islam seeks to expand, as this article concerning Somalia demonstrates.

Dr. Andrew Jackson at is opposed to increasing the military commitment in Afghanistan. Read his post concerning this here.

Dr. Matt Friedeman at has a good article on five reasons Muslims convert to Christ.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Clouds of Witnesses: Modern Day Persecution

Two Sundays ago my pastor mentioned that that Sunday was a day set aside to pray for the persecuted Church. This reminded me that I have been remiss in following through on one of the purposes for this blog: to highlight the struggles of the saints around the world, saints from both the past and the present. I have saved these links for the past few weeks so that you could know some concrete examples of brothers and sisters suffering for their faith.

These first links concern the recent outbreak of violence against Christians in the state of Orissa in India: this is from Ben Witherington's blog concerning the violence in general (click here and then scroll down to 10/16/80 to "Blessed are the Martyrs who Die in the Lord Henceforth), this is from Christianity Today concerning an attack on a nun, and this on the conversion of a 19 year old from Hinduism to Christ.

These are stories from the BBC and Christianity Today. The first concerns violence against Christians in Mosul, Iraq; the second concerns the murder of a Christian Aid worker in Afghanistan who represented an agency called Serve Afghanistan.

The violence that has engulfed the Congo is not religious in origin, yet there are many Christians and Christian agencies in the region. We need to pray for their situation as well as all those who are suffering because of the fighting. These four stories give the background to the current fighting: from Christianity Today, from the Christian Science Monitor, and these two stories from the BBC. The BBC has recently published two sets of pictures of the conflict, here and here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday Night Frozen Dinner And An Intellectual: "There Is A God:How The World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind" by Antony Flew. Part I

Last Friday evening, I had a chicken burrito at Taco Bell and then went to a coffee house to consume coffee while alternative music on XM radio filled the air. In those hours, I read the first part of Antony Flew's account of his journey from Atheism to Deism, a belief in God. This account is entitled "There Is A God: How The World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind."

Flew, an only child, grew up in a Christian household. His father was a prominent Methodist minister and teacher. Despite Antony's later atheism, his fathers scholarly methods had a life long impact on Antony's method of intellectual inquiry. When searching for the meaning of an Old Testament concept, instead of just thinking the concept through on their own, Flew's father and his students investigated all the contemporary examples concerning the use of the relevant Hebrew word. The example of his father encouraged Flew to gather and consider in context all the relevant data on a subject. Flew commented on this example from his father:

"It is ironic, perhaps, that the household in which I grew up very likely instilled in me the enthusiasm for critical investigation that would lead me to reject my father's faith." (Flew, p. 12)

Flew grew up in 1930's England. His father spoke German, so the family took vacations and attended Church conferences in Germany as the Nazi threat was developing. It was during this time that Flew came face to face with the twin evils of anti-Semitism and totalitarianism. He began to question why an all loving God would allow such evils to exist. By the time he turned fifteen, without informing his parents, he had become a convinced atheist.

At Oxford, Flew became a member of the Socratic Club which was chaired at that time by C.S. Lewis. It was at a Socratic Club meeting in 1950 that Flew presented an essay entitled "Theology and Falsification", which was the most widely printed philosophical essay in the latter half of the Twentieth Century. Flew explains the purpose of the essay in "There Is A God":

"My primary purpose in 'Theology and Falsification' was to spice up the bland dialogue between logical positivism and the Christian religion and to set discussion between belief and unbelief upon different and more fruitful lines. I was not offering any comprehensive doctrine about all religious belief or all religious language. I was not saying that statements of religious belief were meaningless. I simply challenged religious believers to explain how their statements are to be understood, especially in the light of conflicting data." (Flew, p. 44-45)

According to Flew, the most radical response came from an Oxford professor, R.M. Hare. Hare believed that religious utterances were not statements but what Hare called "blik." A blik is an interpretation of an experience that cannot be verified or proven false. This includes all experiences, including religious ones. In other words, religious experiences lack any rational basis to belief. (Flew, p. 45) This view has its roots in Descarte's belief, shared by Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Kant that "that a person was an incorporeal subject who had only private experience." However, Flew had immersed himself in what was called "The New Philosophy" which had a great following at Oxford while he was there. The "New Philosophy" rejected Descartes view of man and experience. Flew sided with the "New" approach:

"This belief (Descartes) was inconsistent with the assumption in our regular speech that we know by acquaintance both the physical world and other people." (Flew, p.39)

So while an Atheist, Flew was not willing to attribute all religious experience to private experience.

Later in Flew's career, Flew wrote "The Presumption of Atheism." In this work Flew argued that in the debate concerning the existence of God, the burden of proof rests with those who try argue for God's existence. If no legitimate grounds for God's existence can be provided, according to Flew, then one had no real choice than to consider one's self an atheist. Flew stated that he was not acting out of hostility to religion; he was simply introducing a procedural principle identifying which party has the burden of proof. (Flew, 53-54) He explains this position further:

"I contended that in any properly systematic apologetic the propounder of a God hypothesis must begin, as would the propounder of any existential hypothesis, by first explaining the particular concept of God to be employed and then indicating how the corresponding object is to be identified. Only when and if these two essential preliminary tasks have been satisfactorily completed can it become sensible to begin deploying evidence intended to show that the concept does apply." (Flew, p. 54)

Before Flew changed his mind concerning the existence of God, he underwent two philosophical shifts. The one concerned the validity of human experience discussed above. The other shift concerned his view of human freedom; Flew rejected determinism in favor of human free will. Flew maintains that in philosophy the concepts of entities and agents have been confused. Entities are unconscious agents that have no choice but to be subject to physical laws, while agents (such as human beings) have the capacity to determine their own reaction. The designation by Flew of humans as agents instead of entities was an important one for Flew; according to Flew the question of human free will is connected with all human religions. This is explained further in the chapter entitled "Where The Evidence Leads." Flew's siding with the notion of human freedom put him at odds with Christians who follow Calvin's theology of predestination. Once Flew realized while debating Christians that Calvin's theology of predestination was not the default position of the Bible or the Church, Flew's view of the truth of God's existence began to shift. The fact that John Wesley, whom Flew has a high opinion of, challenged Calvin on predestination helped to shift Flews thinking. (Flew, p. 73)

In 2004, Flew announced that he now accepted the existence of God, though he has not become a believer in Jesus Christ. Flew pointed to discoveries concerning DNA as a factor in his shift in thinking that the origin of life was the work of a creative Intelligence:

"Yes, I now think it does...almost entirely because of the DNA investigations. What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved in getting those extraordinary diverse elements to work together. It's the enormous complexity of the number of elements and the enormous subtlety of the ways they work together. The meeting of these two parts at the right time by chance is simply minute. It is all a matter of enormous complexity by which the results were achieved, which looked to me like the work of intelligence." (Flew, p. 74-75)

"There Is A God", published by HarperOne, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, is written for the general audience; anyone can follow Flew's chain of thought. The second half of the book is called "My Discovery of the Divine." My review will cover this next section and will probably appear next week.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Why Obama May Be More Dangerous Than The Clintons

When George Bush the elder was on the threshold of losing re-election, a political commentator compared him to Ronald Reagan: the difference between Reagan and Bush illustrated the difference between the "big boys" and "the little boys" in Presidential politics. The "big boys", like Reagan, were driven to seek the Presidency to accomplish a specific set of goals. The "little boys", like Bush, were just interested in being President for their own private, egotistical self-fulfillment. I believe that the same comparison can be applied to Obama and Clinton. Yes, Clinton's record leaves little to be desired. Yet many of the doomsday predictions of a transcendent liberal state that were made when Clinton was elected did not come to pass. The reason is not that those fears were not well grounded. The reason was that while Clinton was a leftist, he was most interested in the trappings of the office than policy. He was so interested in maintaining his popularity that he often did not rock the boat; he just let things go without any interference from himself, fearful that any action by him might jeopardize his standing in the polls. In the realm of economics, that is the reason the prosperity that began under Reagan continued throughout the 1990's. Clinton enjoyed the White House helicopters and the opportunities to rub shoulders with fawning Hollywood celebrities, yet in his first six months in office, he only met with his Secretary of State twice. Clinton was smart enough a politician to realize that while he governed as a Liberal, he had to appear as a moderate, and so, in the eyes of some of his most leftist supporters, he failed to implement the plans to gain power over the private lives of ordinary people. Obama, on the other hand, is all business. He is not the kind of politician that likes to schmooze, when he makes contact with potential allies, he is either interested in discussing policies or ways in which to implement them. Obama is all discipline, unlike Clinton. He is what we would have experienced if Dukakis had won; a committed ideologue whose sole desire is to regulate public behavior and one who disciplines his life and actions around that goal. Hillary would have been like that, yet her personality was against her. She projected a persona of one who wanted to run every one else's lives. Obama appears non-threatening to the public. Early in the primaries, many Conservatives, even if they had no plans to vote for Obama, were rooting for him to beat Hillary. They feared Hillary not only because she was Liberal and more committed to implementing a Socialist agenda than her husband, she was feared because it was believed that if she ever gained power, she would use it to totally annihilate the opposition. No one thought that Obama had any desire to totally destroy his Conservative opponents. With Hillary, you could see the enemy approaching; with Obama, the enemy may have surrounded us in the night, taking us completely by surprise. With a Congress with a nearly filibuster proof Democratic majority in collusion with the White House, many of our economic and political freedoms may be in peril. Many commentators surmised that the reason Obama did not crack a smile during his victory speech Tuesday night was because of the enormity of the challenges facing him. I disagree. I think what we saw was the ascension of a disciplined man driven to achieve a specific set of goals, committed to gaining for government the power over the everyday lives of Americans. And as he reached the pinnacle of power, he was contemplating just what he intends to do to anyone who dares to challenge him.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

No Tears For McCain

While I deplored the election results of 1992, I had no regrets about Bush the elder leaving the White House. He had betrayed his "No New Taxes" pledge and ran a cynical, inept campaign. The prospect of four more years of Bill and Hillary in 1996 was demoralizing, yet I had no sympathy for Dole. He was one of the phoniest politicians of my life time and the worse Republican candidate for President I have ever seen. And while I look upon the next Presidency with dred, I shed no tears for John McCain. Yes, he is to be honored for his service to our country in war time. And yes, he was right and Bush was wrong about the need for the Surge. Yet for his actions after his defeat by Bush in 2000, he has a prominent place in The Hand's (that's me!) personal role of dishonor. He opposed tax cuts that helped jump start the economy out of a recession Bush inherited from Clinton. His campaign finance reform bill, McCain-Feingold, made it harder for groups such as The National Right to Life to publicize candidates records while assisting non-U.S. citizens like George Soros to influence elections for liberals with his private fortune. McCain made his constituency the media, which turned on him once he actually ran against a Democrat. Yet the one thing above all that angered me was his role in the "Gang of Fourteen." Republicans in the Senate were about to end the Democrat's unconstitutional filibuster of Bush's nominees for Judicial appointment. But then, McCain and six other liberal Republicans joined with seven Democrats to block that action. This is going to have a negative impact on the Judiciary for a long time to come; Bush was stymied by McCain from putting a Conservative stamp on the lower Courts. Now Obama will fill the vacancies. For good press, McCain stabbed Bush and the Country in the back. For this, I have no remorse personally that McCain failed to fulfill the ambition that caused him to become untrustworthy.

The Bush Effect And The Conservative Dilemma

There is no question that Bush was part of the problem for the Republicans this year. Even after two terms for a popular President, there is a fatigue factor that works against his party in retaining the White House and Congress. The problem is multiplied exponentially when the President's popularity rating is in the tank. And why had Bush dropped so much in public esteem? First he lost the party base by letting spending go through the roof. Compassionate Conservatism may have helped Bush politically in the short run, but it was a time bomb waiting to go off in his and our faces. It is now recognized that his handling of Iraq after the invasion was inept, until the Surge. He lost more support by teaming with McCain and the Democrats to force amnesty for illegal aliens down our throat. True, he did try to reform some of the institutions whose collapse triggered the current economic crises, but his teaming with Democrats on the bailout caused further unrest among his former supporters.

This being acknowledged, do I regret my two votes for him for President? No. (I am not going to go into a detailed analysis of what he did right, that is for a post to appear after he leaves office.) In 2000, who was there to vote for? McCain? He would never had beaten Al Gore. Keyes? Oh Please! Yes, many Republicans voted for Bush because he was seen as a "winner." Of course that should not be the sole reason to vote for any candidate. But Bush was the only viable alternative. I need not go into the necessity of voting for Bush over Kerry with my fellow Conservatives.

Now the fact that Bush was the party's only viable candidate in 2000 points out the Conservative Dilemma regarding its rivalry with Liberalism/Socialism.

First, who is it that generally gets elected President? Those whom the public knows little about or those who have been out of the national spotlight for years. FDR was a Governor, not a Washington politician. Eisenhower was not a political figure. JFK was a Senator, yet he was an unknown quantity. Nixon had been out of office for eight years. Carter was totally obscure. Reagan was a former Governor. Clinton was a Governor. Bush II ditto. Obama is certainly the most obscure in his origins of any recent President. Ever since the election of James Polk in 1844, most of those elected President were what we call "Dark Horses." Our greatest President, Lincoln, was one of the most unknown quantities ever to reach the White House.

If we look at the roster of Republican candidates from the 1990's, almost all of them were well known Washington insiders: Dole, Kemp, Quayle, Graham. While we have two potential leaders in state office now, Palin and Jindal, why is there such a dearth of quality Conservative Republican political figures outside of Washington that can rise to national leadership?

The first element of the Conservative Dilemma is that there is a natural antipathy among Conservatives to make government a career. Conservatives distrust government and have no desire to control peoples' lives. They may consider it an honor to represent the people for a while, but they have no desire to make public service a lifetime calling. Liberals, on the other hand have an overwhelming desire to achieve control over every aspect of our private lives and are willing to spend their lives regulating you and me, patiently waiting for the day when we will have finally surrendered all our liberties to the governing class.

The second element is that Liberalism/Socialism lends itself to lofty rhetoric. Political stars are made of those who can roil the passions of the ignorant with high sounding but empty oratory. The promise to take care of everyone from the cradle to the grave is more capable of aligning itself with this oratory than a message of helping ourselves without the assistance of government. While Conservatism has a few giants of political discourse, such as Reagan, it is harder for a Conservative to join great oratory to the Conservative message.

This dilemma is the reason why there are fewer viable national Conservative candidates. This dilemma is the reason why Conservatives are the underdog in the struggle against Liberalism. This dilemma is the reason why Bush was the only viable alternative in 2000. For Conservatives to prevail in the future, they are going to have to develop candidates who are genuine outsiders to the Washington establishment who can articulate true Conservative ideals. True Conservatives, unlike Romney, Huckabee, or Paul. Reagan was elected because some wealthy California businessmen recognized his potential and gave their lives and money to getting him elected. We need the same dedication among monied Conservatives today to elevate viable Conservatives from state politics to national prominence. If this was realized sooner, perhaps Conservatives will have more than one candidate to choose from instead of being stuck with a viable but quasi Conservative.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Losing Is The Best Thing That Could Happen To Palin

I have no doubt in my mind that Sarah Palin wanted John McCain to win the election. Yet it was not to be. The first time I realized that Obama might be the next President was after McCain became the presumptive Republican nominee. The only time I had any hope of Obama losing was after his performance at the Saddleback Forum. On the heels of that, I thought that if McCain would pick a solid conservative, the party base may turn out to give him a slim victory. After a lackluster Democratic convention and the naming of Palin, my hopes intensified. I was sure a victory against Obama was possible. Even after the economic crises hit, I felt that if McCain made a proactive case for capitalistic solutions, he would maintain his momentum. But after McCain's disastrous performance in the first debate, reality reappeared in my perspective. John McCain would never win, even without the economic crises. In picking Sarah Palin, he brought out more of the base to the polls than would have otherwise shown up. Her presence on the ticket prevented McCain from losing in astronomical proportions.

With McCain's defeat, it is clear to me that this is the best thing that could happen if Palin has ambitions to run for President. If McCain had won, Palin would undoubtedly face "Republican Fatigue" after twelve or sixteen years of Republican occupancy of the White House. Even serving a popular President can be hazardous to a Vice President's chances to be elected President; only four sitting Vice Presidents have been elected President. Serving a President McCain would have put Palin at odds with the Conservative base. There would have most certainly been issues that McCain would buck the party base on and as Vice President, Sarah Palin would not only have to tow the line, she would have to publicly threaten Conservative Congressmen and Senators not to defy the White House. Even if the base knew where her heart was, if she had to promote a McCain folly such as amnesty for illegals, her ability to gain the nomination might have been damaged beyond repair.

Now that she is free from answering to McCain, she can articulate her beliefs as she feels fit. I would not be surprised if she moves to the right on some issues she appeared to agree with McCain on. And there will be less talk about reaching across the aisle. Right now, she needs to concentrate on winning a second term as governor. (The money from liberal special interest groups trying to defeat her will be unprecedented.) She needs to campaign for Conservative candidates and when possible, campaign against incumbent liberal Republicans in future primaries. That will cement the loyalty of the base.

I will be watching her closely. I am enthusiastic about her possible future, but this is not an endorsement. I am also observing Bobby Jindal with interest as well. I do not know which would make a better candidate.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

My Advent Seasons Begins Today

Advent is a season in which Christ's disciples prepare spiritually for the celebration of His Incarnation. When I was pastoring in North Carolina, I realized the necessity to begin my own Advent season early so that I could lead the Church into its collective celebrations for four Sundays preceding Christmas. While not pastoring at present, beginning to privately meditate upon the the love of God demonstrated by becoming a man is something I could not do without. Advent is seen by many Christians to be a church rite with origins in pagan religious ritual. Before Seminary, if I was aware of Advent at all, I considered it very little, if at all. One of my debts to Wesley Biblical Seminary was to broaden my horizons concerning Church worship. The two Christmas's that I pastored we had short Advent celebrations during the services. Those that participated in them had never celebrated Advent before and to them this new practice had deep meaning for them. This year's observance begins a two or three years project of meditating on all sixty some verses put into musical form by Handel in "The Messiah." Not only do I hope to to be enriched by this exercise, I also intend to produce new Christmas sermons that will appear here on this blog so you can celebrate along with me. Also to be shared with you will be observations on a book of sermons on Advent I read a few years ago.

Three Things That I Know

My friend and fellow WBS alumni Jason at has a short post entitled "Three Things That I Know." He is asking his friends and fellow bloggers to post a similiar list on their blogs. Here is mine.

1. We are partly the products, for better or worse, of those who have gone on before us.

2. We will have a hand in the destiny of those who follow us, especially those who are members of our families. Generations from now will still be dealing with what we have sown into the lives of those we have influence over.

3. Therefore, the best thing we can do to influence the following generations is to establish in them a habit of worshipping God in all circumstances.