Sunday, December 28, 2008

"When we wait on God and wait with God, we learn what it means to totally depend on God and we see God do good things..."

Waiting can be so difficult. But, once again, Pastor Mark Daniels tells me exactly what I needed to hear (or in this case - read), at the precise moment.

“We are a multicultural society, and people expect this American life to continue the same way in heaven.”

Will everybody go to Heaven? What about those who don't believe it exists?

In June, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life published a controversial survey in which 70 percent of Americans said that they believed religions other than theirs could lead to eternal life. This threw evangelicals into a tizzy. After all, the Bible makes it clear that heaven is a velvet-roped V.I.P. area reserved for Christians. Jesus said so: “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” But the survey suggested that Americans just weren’t buying that.

The evangelicals complained that people must not have understood the question. The respondents couldn’t actually believe what they were saying, could they?

So in August, Pew asked the question again. (They released the results last week.) Sixty-five percent of respondents said — again — that other religions could lead to eternal life. But this time, to clear up any confusion, Pew asked them to specify which religions. The respondents essentially said all of them.

And they didn’t stop there. Nearly half also thought that atheists could go to heaven — dragged there kicking and screaming, no doubt — and most thought that people with no religious faith also could go.

Universalism does have some appeal, but it's not an idea that's been propagated among the Great Religions themselves.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Coulrophobia

flat abs

Why wait until 2009 to resolve to lose weight? I think I'll start right now, and people say that doing these will help.

Christmas 1975


Christmas 1975
Originally uploaded by Good Brownie
We had a great time visiting the Brown clan in Ohio. My parents' house wasn't as full this year, since both Caldwell couples and the Brysons were in different states. My parents don't have internet access, so I wasn't able to blog, but we're back in Illinois now, where blogability abounds.

This photo was taken at our house on Norman Avenue in Dayton, five months after I turned four years old.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

does substance abuse treatment really work?

Ah, yes, the penultimate question of mental health clinics and substance abuse treatment centers everywhere: does what we are doing actually work?
Every year, state and federal governments spend more than $15 billion, and insurers at least $5 billion more, on substance-abuse treatment services for some four million people. That amount may soon increase sharply: last year, Congress passed the mental health parity law, which for the first time includes addiction treatment under a federal law requiring that insurers cover mental and physical ailments at equal levels.

Many clinics across the county have waiting lists, and researchers estimate that some 20 million Americans who could benefit from treatment do not get it.

Yet very few rehabilitation programs have the evidence to show that they are effective. The resort-and-spa private clinics generally do not allow outside researchers to verify their published success rates. The publicly supported programs spend their scarce resources on patient care, not costly studies.

And the field has no standard guidelines. Each program has its own philosophy; so, for that matter, do individual counselors. No one knows which approach is best for which patient, because these programs rarely if ever track clients closely after they graduate. Even Alcoholics Anonymous, the best known of all the substance-abuse programs, does not publish data on its participants’ success rate.
Treatment must be tailor-made to fit the individual. People come in all shapes and sizes, and so do their problems. Isn't it reasonable to expect that there would be various treatment methods? Some may not like to admit it, but treatment often involves trial-and-error: if one form doesn't work, then the therapist has to switch gears and try something else. Evidence-based therapies seek to eliminate trial-and-error.
When practiced faithfully, evidence-based therapies give users their best chance to break a habit. Among the therapies are prescription drugs like naltrexone, for alcohol dependence, and buprenorphine, for addiction to narcotics, which studies find can help people kick their habits.

Another is called the motivational interview, a method intended to harden clients’ commitment upon entering treatment. In M.I., as it is known, the counselor, through skilled questioning, has the addict explain why he or she has a problem, and why it is important to quit, and set goals. Studies find that when clients mark their path in this way — instead of hearing the lecture from a counselor, as in many traditional programs — they stay in treatment longer.

"Motivational interviewing" appears to currently be the method with the most buzz. When I went through grad school 13 years ago, everyone was talking about brief therapy.

Prayers for the Jollyblogger

David Wayne has revealed that he has cancer. He is scheduled for surgery tomorrow, Christmas Eve.

Obama, undressed

Well, he's not exactly undressed. He's wearing a modest bathing suit. Which, apparently, have made people go ga-ga. HuffPo has some photos of past presidents who have shown some skin. I don't think any photos of either Bush has ever surfaced.

"I get shocked by people getting divorced all the time, thats why I choose to work on it. Therapy helps us."

Courteney Cox and David Arquette have admitted to seeing a marital counselor.
"It's so easy to grow apart; marriage takes work. I suppose you can work it out by talking to each other - I would just prefer to have a referee, it reminds us why we're together... I don't know what the future's going to hold, but divorce isn't really an option."
I heartily commend them. Considering they are both Hollywood actors, this is especially refreshing to hear.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

there are a few songs that actually give me "the chills" when I hear them

This is one. I'm not a Catholic, but I absolutely love hearing it, especially at this time of the year.




If you're not much of an opera fan, perhaps you'll like this version...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Come for the coaching...

...and stay for the wedding.
When Kara Patterson arrived Saturday morning to coach her gymnastic students at the Cincinnati Winter Sports Festival at the Duke Energy Convention Center, she had no idea she would trade in her Adidas warm-up pants and T-shirt for her white wedding gown - and a surprise wedding planned by her fiancee, Army Staff Sgt. Ray Hignite, and her father, Brett Patterson.

"Now the rabbi's walking right behind me..."

Back in the day, I had a serious love for the music of Tears for Fears. But I don't remember this version of one of their biggest hits...

it's a pitiful life

Wendell Jamieson has a different view of a holiday classic.

Friday, December 19, 2008

the good people of Minnesota still don't know if Coleman or Franken won the Senate seat

It seems likely that they won't know until 2009. Whoever is finally declared the winner will have to live under a cloud of suspicion that the seat should have gone to the other guy. If Franken wins, will he say, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me... I think?"

The 2008 Minnesota race for the U.S. Senate is almost like a carpet sale. Instead of Install in your home now, and you won't pay a dime until 2009!, it's Vote for Senator now, and you won't know until 2009!

Cali AG Jerry Brown wants Prop 8 overturned

I guess it's important to consider the will of the People when it comes to the American presidency, but not to the covenant of marriage. Of course, many people don't view marriage as a covenant, but as a legal contract that can easily be broken.

"I will fight. I will fight. I will fight until I take my last breath."

It looks like Guv Blago isn't going to make himself scarce.
"And I'm not going to quit a job that people hired me to do because of false accusations and a political lynch mob."

Heh. Funny that a Chicago politician would utter the word mob.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

sins made public

If Nathaniel Hawthorne were alive today, I think he'd be quite interested in this story.
A divorced Jacksonville woman said her former church has threatened to "go public with her sins" and tell the congregation about her sexual relationship with her new boyfriend.

Rebecca Hancock said harassment from Grace Community Church in Mandarin over her sex life caused her to leave, but she said that didn't put an end to the problem. She said she received a letter from the church's elders telling her the church plans to make her personal life very public.

"I'm basically run out. I'm the church harlot," Hancock said.

To me, this is an example of the church being the church. And speaking of the church, listen to what Penn (of the magical duo Penn & Teller) says about those who attend church and don't evangelize.

UPDATE: More on the church. Which is more embarrassing for Hancock: her church making her sins "public" to the congregation, or the newspaper reporter making this story public to everyone in the world?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

another Kennedy in the Senate?

It looks like America is getting closer to having another Kennedy with political power. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, who seemed to be more like her "private" mother than her "public" father and brother, desires the New York Senate seat that will be left vacant when Hillary Clinton is confirmed as the next Secretary of State.

I have just a few thoughts on this...
  1. I don't believe it's wise to make these sorts of pronouncements, considering the troubles the Illinois governor is having. Caroline could be accused of Blagojaviching the Senate, and I don't think Governor Paterson wants that scandal.
  2. If she wants to "pursue" the Senate seat, why doesn't she do it the old-fashioned way?
  3. Caroline called Governor Paterson on December 3, and they had an "informational" conversation about the Senate. Why in the world would Caroline need such a conversation? Couldn't she just ask Uncle Teddy about the Senate? That phone call was an obvious ploy to gain Paterson's appointment.
  4. The article reads, "The governor was traveling to Utica today and could not immediately be reached for comment. " I guess the governor and his aides have never heard of those new-fangled devices called cell phones.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

the Hubble Advent Calendar

Stunningly beautiful.

"Newsweek" and gay marriage

The most recent issue of Newsweek has a most provocative profile article - "The Religious Case for Gay Marriage," by Lisa Miller. Jon Meacham has an editorial note, supporting Miller's article. As you can probably guess, many evangelical Christians believe the article has misinterpreted the Bible.

Naturally, a lot of people over at HuffPo are talking about Miller's article.

Mollie Hemingway knew from first line of the article that it was "just that bad." She also wants to know about what happened to "the standard."

Al Mohler believes the article is an example of "turning the Bible on its head."

Robert Gagnon, a professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, argues that the Newsweek article "twists and ignores" the Bible's argument against homosexual behavior. He makes his case here.

Christianity Today has responded to the Newsweek article.

Frank Turk of TeamPyro has let his thoughts be known.

Tony Jones has changed his mind on same-sex unions, but he really doesn't explain how he came to do this. Rob Bowman believes Jones has fallacious thinking. Tony Jones does think Miller's article ignores the "many complexities and nuances" of the debate.

Jon Stewart and Mike Huckabee discuss gay marriage.

Brant Hansen writes about his encounter with someone he is "supposed" to "hate."

the dinner guest

"Where is my spaghetti?"



"I'm enjoying the lemonade, but I still don't have any spaghetti."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

two gentleman from Chicago

The biggest question after yesterday's events: will one man's corruption spell trouble for another? He's already being distracted.

Friday, December 5, 2008

studio logos

Neatorama brings us the stories behind six movie studios: DreamWorks SKG, MGM, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Warner Brothers, and Columbia. Did you know that Leo, the lion featured on the MGM logo, has been around since 1957?

HIllary's open Senate seat

It seemed that every New York Democrat who eyed "Pat" Moynihan's open seat in 2000 stepped aside so that Hillary Clinton, who had never lived in the state, could take it. Now, the NY Democrats may step aside yet again - for Caroline Kennedy.
Ms. Kennedy called Gov. David A. Paterson on Wednesday to discuss the position, Mr. Paterson confirmed Friday. The governor will choose a replacement for Mrs. Clinton upon her expected confirmation as secretary of state next month.

“The conversation was informational,” Mr. Paterson said in an interview. “She did not express an interest in the Senate, but we talked about the Senate, so I got that she was just trying to get some information to determine whether or not she would like to have an interest in it. And that was it.”

He added, “I haven’t offered the job to anyone.”
Yes. I'm sure she's recently dialed up several governors, just to talk about the Senate. Informally.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

goodbye, white lemuroid ringtail possum

You are no more, because of those vile and terrible creatures called Humans. They killed you with their global warming.
Experts fear climate change is to blame for the disappearance of the highly vulnerable strain thanks to a temperature rise of up to 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Researchers will mount a last-ditch expedition early next year deep into the untouched "cloud forests" of the Carbine Range near Mt. Lewis, three hours north of the city of Cairns, in search of the tiny tree-dweller, dubbed the "Dodo of the Daintree."

"It is not looking good," researcher Steve Williams said. "If they have died out it would be first example of something that has gone extinct purely because of global warming."
Which prompts me to wonder: why is this so terrible? If men and women are merely the products of Nature and evolutionary forces, as the atheist believes, would it not be fair to say that Nature is ultimately responsible for the disappearance of the white lemuroid ringtail possum?

After all, Nature allowed humanity to rise to the position that it is in. Ian Malcom said in Jurassic Park, "Dinosaurs had their shot, and Nature selected them for extinction." Humanity - homo sapiens - now have their own shot at ruling the earth, just as dinosaurs did so many years ago. If Nature did indeed select the homo sapien to be the current dominant species, would not anything that occurred - even the erradication of a type of possum - be a natural thing?

I'm not saying that there is no argument that the disappearance of the white lemuroid ringtail possum is an unnatural thing. I'm just saying that I don't see the argument as existing. In other words, I'm agnostic towards that argument. Perhaps someone can help.

speed-dating

... for your church.

good tidings of great joy

I really don't think this is how the angels appeared to the shepherds that night. I wasn't there, so I could be wrong, but I don't think so. Detergents and dish-washing liquids hadn't even been invented yet.

(TY, Althouse)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

the neighbor's Christmas lights 2008, part 1

Like I did last December, I wanted to feature some of the homes around the area where I live. Most of them are homes in and around Danville, Illinois.



Monday, December 1, 2008

"We are uniting behind a national security agenda that is tough and smart..."

Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader for the Democrats, made a strong proclamation that Osama bin Ladin will be "eliminated." I think it was an important and worthwhile thing to say, but it's not something Reid said recently. He didn't even say it during this election cycle. He actually said it over two-and-a-half years ago, in March 2006.

I guess he was waiting for a Democrat to run the White House again. Okay, Harry: time to give 'em hell.

Didn't you notice?

The recession began a year ago.

And you thought the economy was going swimmingly...