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Showing posts from December, 2004

Political diversity of Christians

The mainstream media seems to lump all Christians into the "Fundamentalist" Red-State Conservative mode.

I suppose it just makes for simpler story telling on their part and there are enough people who fit that mold that it is true to some limited extent.

But in my years of experience of talking with people of religious faith there is quite a bit of diversity of views on politics.

Just a few examples:

One person I knew was a fiscal conservative and socially liberal with the view that the government isn't in the business of morality.

Another friend is pro-life but doesn't have any strong feelings about economic matters.

A third example is a pro-lifer who is against the death penalty and usually votes democrat.

Then there is good friend who is pro-life but libertarian in economics and most other social issues.

And indeed, I have friends who are down the line conservative: pro-life, fiscal conservatives, in favor of the death penalty and will vote Republican no matter w…

Corporations step up

This CNN.com item tallies up how corporate America is stepping up to help.

The news stories often focus on direct government aid. Money and aid is going to SE Asia also through personal donations to non-profit groups like Americares, World Vision and many more and from corporations partnering with government agencies and NGOs.

Click here for a list of agencies and contribute what you can.

Relief agencies at work

Here is a larger list of agencies at work on relief to South East Asia. Hat tip to DP.

Amazon.com is collecting money for American Red Cross. As of this post, Wednesday 11:47AM PST, 39397 people have donated $2,211,086.53 to the ARC.

Return of the King - Extended Edition

During the Christmas holiday, I had the chance to watch for the 2nd time the newly released DVD for Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King.

My favorite new scenes - I hope I'm not spoiling it for people! - are: (1) Merry's conversation with Eowyn on the eve of the Riders of Rohan charge on the Orcs at Pelennor Fields. It was a little moment that shows the bond that forms between the two characters. Paraphrasing Merry: My lady you are fair and brave with much to live for and many who love you. I'm just a Hobbit and can't save Middle Earth. But I want to help my friends. How I wish I could see them again. (2) Pippin's conversation with Faramir. Pippen was wondering why in the world he offered his service to Denathor saying what could a Hobbit offer to great Lords of Men. Faramir overheard his remark and encouraged him by saying that a good act shouldn't be questioned by cold calculation. Pippen realized that the armor he was given to wear was Faramir…

Strengthen the good

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This little outpost in cyberspace has joined the Strengthen the Good network.

STG is the nexus of a network of bloggers committed to raising awareness for small charities around the world. Every three weeks this space highlights a new “micro-charity”—a small, inspiring charity, one with a real face and where $1 makes a difference—and the bloggers in the network link to that post, sending traffic, and awareness, the charity’s way.

Check out what charities they have profiled supporting by clicking on the button below.





People trying to do good in times of trouble

One cannot but feel horrible about the massive loss of life due to the tsunami in South East Asia. The death toll is 22,000 and climbing and more is likely because of the terrible conditions that now exist in those devestated areas.

If you want to help with a donation, go here for a round-up of agencies with the global reach and resources to make a significant difference right away.

I urge, request, beg, plead with you that if you have found this post because you are a regular visitor or are an accidental visitor go here and pick an organization to support. I know this sounds like an NPR pledge break but I make the challenge because it will make a difference.

Meanwhile, I want to point you to this heart warming story of some kids with a simply idea to help and made it happen. Excerpt:For all the billions of dollars being spent on the war in Iraq, 14-year-old Brittany Bergquist is surprised that the U.S. military doesn't do what she and her little brother are doing: helping sol…

Larry King Show: Who Was Jesus?

I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the conversation on Larry King's show tonight about "Who Was Jesus?"

I have to give props to all the guests and to the Larry King booking people as they chose people who have a point of view but who make them without acrimony. So often these kind of panels descend into shouting matches.

As a Christian, I accept the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John about the life of Jesus. I acknowledge there is an element of faith in believing the Gospel books of the Christian Scriptures.

However, it is a belief not without some basis in reason.

Why would one believe something written nearly 2000 years ago?

On what rational basis would confidence in something written so long ago not be foolish?

We can have confidence in these ancient texts because:
(1) they were written relatively close to the time of the actual events. Mark is generally believed to have been written soon after Jesus' resurrection and is the "bare bones&quo…

Blogging the 2004 Las Vegas Bowl

No, I'm not in Las Vegas. I'm not in a sports bar watching ESPN. I'm listening to the radio in Los Angeles, AM 1150.

I've been listening to the game on and off this evening as I ran some errands and baked some cookies. For the record, I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with walnuts!

Anyway, to reset the game. The Bruins came out flat and promptly fell behind 10-0.

Eventually, UCLA got its act together and cut the lead 10-7.

I didn't hear what happened but all of a sudden, I hear the announcer say the UCLA QB was David Koral. I would later find out that starter Drew Olsen got injured and the backup had to take over. Koral got a TD pass to make it a Bruin lead of 14-10.

In the second half, the Bruins under Koral got it to 21-10 and things were looking good.

However, it seems the Bruins are trying real hard to LOSE this thing. If I read the stat sheet right as of the late fourth quarter, the Bruins have had FOUR fumbles.

The Cowboys scored to make it 21-17.

politics and Christian faith

A serious or even casual reader of this blog will detect that I'm a Christian and that I have center-right political inclinations.

So at one level, I fit the "stereotypical" religious voter that the media says was a part of why Bush won.

Stereotypes persist because there is probably some truth to it. However, stereotypes rarely give the full picture of a person or even the group being stereotyped.

Here is an item that caught my eye in my nearly daily visits at AS's Daily Dish which is currently under guest blog management. Excerpt:Wednesday, December 22, 2004

AN EVANGELICAL LEFT: About a month ago, William Stuntz wrote this piece about political common ground between red-state evangelicals and blue-state liberals: "Helping the poor is supposed to be the left's central commitment, going back to the days of FDR and the New Deal. In practice, the commitment has all but disappeared from national politics... I can't prove it, but I think there is a large, l…

Flew, leading atheist, thinks there might be a god afterall

Got email from a couple of people about the news that Anthony Flew, a renown atheist is reconsidering his views. Excerpt:The first hint of Flew’s turn was a letter in the August-September issue of Britain’s Philosophy Now magazine. “It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism,” he wrote.

The letter commended arguments in Schroeder’s “The Hidden Face of God” and “The Wonder of the World” by Varghese, an Eastern Rite Catholic layman.

This week, Flew finished writing the first formal account of his new outlook for the introduction to a new edition of his “God and Philosophy,” scheduled for release next year by Prometheus Books.

Prometheus specializes in skeptical thought, but if his belief upsets people, well, “that’s too bad,” Flew said. “My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato’s Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads.”It will be interesting to see how …

big trade for big unit collapses

Just turned on the radio to get ready for the UCLA basketball game and the top news item was from Newsday.

The report says the Dodgers opted out of the massive deal that would have moved 4 Dodgers out to Arizona and the Yankees and Johnson to the Yankees.

Fans in LA may just shrug their shoulders as they have seen Finely, Beltre, Cora, Lima, LoDuca, Roberts all let go during the season and in the post-season. Fans are thinking the new ownership is just cutting payroll.

It is going to take a lot for McCourt to regain the fans in LA.

DePodesta is just doing the job McCourt has set the dollar amounts at.

Dodgers fans on a ledge

What is going on?

Dodgers give up Green, Penny and Brazoban to Arizona while Arizona sends Randy Johnson to the Yankees and the Yankees send to the Dodgers one pitcher, catcher, third baseman and two minor leagers.

Dodgers do not re-sign Beltre giving him up to Seattle who paid $64 million over 5 years for the 3rd base slugger.

Dodgers lose the bidding battle for pitcher Tim Hudson.

The new management is continuing to cut payroll. They didn't re-sign Steve Finley who hit the grand slam to clinch the division. They didn't re-sign Jose Lima who was the most consistent pitcher down the stretch and who shut out the Cards in the NLDS for the first playoff win for the Dodgers in a very long time.

Will fans turn out next season to see a team that looks very different than last year's West division champs? Will this team even play .500 ball?

LA Scene: The Los Angeles Master Chorale

People in Los Angeles know that the Walt Disney Concert Hall is the hot cultural ticket in town. When people think of the building, they think of Frank Gehry because he is the architect. When people think of the music, they think of the Los Angeles Philharmonic because they play there. When people think of the LA Phil, they think of Esa-Pekka Salonen because he is the music director.

What people might not know is that Disney Hall is the home of the Los Angeles Master Chorale which is under the leadership of LAMC music director Grant Gershon.

If one wants to see an event inside the Disney Hall with the LA Phil or organized by the LA Phil Association, check this page out for events with tickets remaining.

My impression is that this list is longer than last year's. Last year being the first year of the Disney Hall, everything was pretty much sold out; even the obscure modern works. The novelty maybe wearing off now that the Hall is a year old and so perhaps ticket sales aren'…

LA Dining: Tesoro Trattoria

Had dinner with four friends at Tesoro Trattoria.

Food:
Terrific Italian food. I had the Sorano ($13.95) which is farfalle with eggplant, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, basil, pine nuts with extra virgin olive oil and garlic. Delicious and well presented.

Service:
Friendly and timely service with a smile.

Atmosphere:
Very nice setting. Located walking distance to MOCA, WDCH and the other Music Center venues. Definitely a good option for the business meal, celebration dinner and the more serious date.

Price:
Entrees are around $20 with some in mid-teens. Our party of five with tips got out paying $100 because we all ate pretty lightly. The menu is a la carte so the bill would be higher if we opted in for salads, appetizers, desserts and drinks.

Location:
300 South Grand Avenue
Downtown Los Angeles
Telephone: 213-680-0000

One nice feature is that one can park in the California Plaza parking lot, get a validation from the restaurant and show the attendant your concert …

Another organization I'm supporting...

Christmas is a time to count our blessings and to give to others who have needs.

I've been blogging about different groups I'm sending contributions to. So here is another one for you to consider.

There aren't many things more difficult than being a woman who is pregnant and without support. Some would counsel abortion to "solve" the problem. But for some, abortion is not the solution. I'll leave the abortion debate for another blog post.

As a pro-lifer who wants to give support to people who are offering real alternatives, I've been supporting organizations that support women who decide to bring their child into this world.

One such group is The Harvest Home in Santa Monica.

What is their mission?

It is right on their web page:The purpose of the Harvest Home is to provide love and care to each woman, offering a stable environment where her physical, emotional and spiritual needs can be met.  The ultimate goal is to have each woman  leave the Home…

Join us in supporting Iraq through Spirit of America

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Heisman should go to Reggie Bush

I haven't seen enough of Oklahoma to know their potential candidates. But among U$C players... you got to say Reggie Bush is the #1 guy.

No Bush, no victory over UCLA last Saturday.

U$C would have had success even without Leinart. I'm not so sure how good they would be if they didn't have Bush.

Bush, the big play threat, and Bush, the guy who catches, runs and returns helps them win. Leinart and the receiving corp helps run up the scores.

That's this Bruin analysis!

Meanwhile, GO BRUINS in the Las Vegas Bowl!!

The Christmas Season: a time for giving

With Christmas just around the corner, I want to encourage readers of this humble blog both regular and accidental to find ways to give to those who need help.

So below, I'll mention two groups I've just donated to.

Spirit of America: Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge

Check out the Spirit of America: Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge.

They are raising money to support various projects in Iraq. That country has been under decades of oppression and now that it is on the verge of breathing free it is being hit by violence from the old forces that used to be in power. It is an indication of their evil that they would rather burn 1/2 a house down than allow the long suffering people to rebuild.

I decided to donate with the Bear Flag League which is a California blog team.

I was tempted to join Hugh Hewitt's team, Northern Alliance of Blogs, because I occasionally listen to his show. But I am not a Minnesota person and have only been to Minn-e-so-cold just once.

The TTLB…

Author Iris Chang, 1968-2004

I was shocked to hear the news that author, Iris Chang was found dead of an apparent suicide. She was 36.

I had the chance to hear her speak at the 2004 UCLA-Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. I wrote these two blog posts about the sessions she was involved with.

She was passionate about bringing to the light aspects of Chinese history that were little in the public consciousness. As I watched her speak, she was so full of life.

Yet, as I read the news item about her death, it was reported that she was recently hospitalized for depression and one would guess was probably still being treated for it after being released.

If you or you think a loved one is suffering from depression, please check this web page from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Additional information can be found at the Prozac web page.

After reading those pages, if necessary, get help for yourself or your loved one.

Culture: Wineblogging - Weinrieder 2001 Eiswein Riesling

Wow! I bought this wine many months ago from Blue Danube Wines. I had emailed the owner of this wine importer for suggestions and he raved about this wine and recommended it highly.

Well, I'm glad I finally got around to trying it.

By eye a deep gold color, pleasant aroma is intoxicating already even before you taste it and then you taste it ... it is like nectar with a consistency somewhere between juice and syrup.

Read more about Weinrieder and below is an excerpt about this wine.This wine was chosen to be the crowning soloist at the Masters of Wine gala dinner in Vienna, July 2002. Recently it tied for first place with Canada’s Pilletteri Vidal 2001 ice wine at the Hamburg Wine Salon. Peter Moser writes in the Falstaff 2002 guide, "Enticing nose, redolent of canned yellow peaches; tastes like peach nectar, shows an brilliant acid structure; a racy and classy wine, yet with so much elegance that it is already drinkable. Great." 94-96 points. We should add this beauty ha…

LA Dining: Ngoma Restaurant

Shared dinner with some friends at Ngoma Restaurant.

Food:
African restaurant with a menu divided into West African and East African sections. Tonight, 4 of us went to the East side and 1 of us went to the West side. 2 of us had chicken stew and 2 of us had beef stew while one had a fried fish. There is lamb mafe on the menu that I hope to try next time I'm there. Good straightforward food. The menu provides descriptions of the items and some do sound more exotic than others! I confess I went with something that sounded familar and what could be more familiar than stew!

Service:
I have eaten here a few times before but it has been awhile. Previously service was a bit slow but this outing the service was quite attentive. One neat ritual is the handwashing. The host brings a bowl of water and a bowl as a catch basin. She poured the water over our hands so we can wash. The water was nice and warm!

Atmosphere:
It is a cute little place on Wilshire in the Miracle Mile area…

Seen on the web ...

A thumbnail of some noted evangelical Christians can be found here.

A NY Times article about John Stott by Brooks.

HT to AS.

What is a good and happy life?

Is a good life and a happy life inevitably linked?

One challenge (which the postmodern skeptic would agree) is that we are bound in this time and place and so a definition for either may be pointless.

However, can one come up with a definition that is applicable to us here in modern Western society and to poorer parts of the world and to someone who lived in the distant past?

Anyway, more questions than answers?

I think living in the USA does provide benefits (and how) but also lots of distractions!

The question of a "good life," I think, is hard for us because the postmodern skeptical view of the world is so prevalent here in the USA. If "truth" is unknowable or relativistic than the notion of some objective good is hard to find. So people default to finding a "happy life."

But do American's really know what a "happy life" is?

I think we confuse "excitement" for happiness. We are a nation of "adrenaline junkies." E…