Thursday, September 23, 2010

LA Law: McCourt Trial

Being a Dodger fan who is watching this year's team fall into a black hole, I am beginning to think about next season. And, of course, with the McCourt case on trial, the next season is pretty much up in the air.

From the latest items over at Dodger Divorce ... it would appear that Frank McCourt is the owner of the Dodgers in regards to the team's relationship to Major League Baseball. However, the marital property rights agreement which addresses assets within the context of their marriage remains in question. It would appear the McCourt attorney who prepared it is claiming that Frank's claim is what was intended. However, Silverstein's mixing up the words exclusive and inclusive and then fixing it without explicitly informing both parties was made clear under Boies questioning.

Suffice to say that seems very fishy and at least poor legal/business practice.

I would suspect that having these facts come out in court is driving the parties to try to settle out of court.

I would guess Team Frank's lawyers fear that Judge Gordon will toss the MPA out because of lawyer incompetence in which case he would have to give up 50% of the team. While Team Jamie's lawyers would be telling her, you could get 50% or nothing if you let Judge Gordon decide or you can cut a deal for something in between 0 and 50%.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Technology: E-banking doesn't mean Error-free banking

In the old days, I would balance my checkbook. Invariably, I'd find a math error somewhere. Sometimes it would take quite some time to find the boo-boo.

Well, with e-banking, I don't balance my checkbook looking for every last penny.

BUT, I still take a look at the numbers and so far, as far as I know I haven't found any boo-boos... until ... yesterday!

A check was written for $49 but the account recorded the check as $549!

A quick online chat while browsing in the e-banking web page cleared it up quickly.

Thus, beware!

E-banking doesn't mean Error-free banking!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

World: The 2 Minute Guide to Swedish Politics

In the USA, the political left lauds the effectiveness of large government as practiced in Sweden. The USA right complains that the US shouldn't go the way of Sweden's big socialism.

Of course, the reality of today's Sweden is a bit more nuanced as revealed by the latest elections.

The left leaning Social Democrats, according to the article, has ruled 65 of the last 78 years. However, for the first time, a non-socialist government appeared headed for re-election.

The current government is a coalition known as the Alliance comprising of the Moderate Party, Center Party, Liberal People's Party and Christian Democrats which has been leading Sweden slowly away from its big government socialist past.

The Social Democrats head a coalition consisting of the Social Democrats, Left Party and Green Party.

The wild card in the mix is the Sweden Democrats that have made headway on an anti-immigrant platform and are not aligned with either side. As of the current vote count, neither coalition has the votes to have complete control over the Parliament though the Alliance has more seats.

Moderate Party (M) 30,0% 107 seats
Centre Party (C) 6,6% 22 seats
Liberal Party (FP) 7,1% 24 seats
Christian Democrats (KD) 5,6% 19 seats
Governing coalition 49.3% of the vote, 172 seats

Social Democrats (S) 30,9% 113 seats
Left Party (V) 5,6% 19 seats
Green Party (MP) 7,2% 25 seats
Opposition coaltion 43.7% of the vote, 157 seats

Sweden Democrats (SD) 5,7% of the vote, 20 seats

Stay tuned for how events will unfold!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Theology: Top 10 Theological Issues

Ed. note - this post is periodically updated with new material usually at the bottom.

Saw this item over at Laura's Writings where she highlights ecclesiology (doctrine of the church) as one of the top 10 items cited by Monday Morning Insight who was citing Brian Schulenburg who is writing a book about the subject. Excerpt:
1) Soteriology - I am so concerned as I read more and more people who would self identify as Christians who are saying that Jesus is not the only way to salvation. In a world that has become increasingly diverse, we are seeing more and more people, perhaps because they are afraid of offending, perhaps because they want to create God in their own image, who say that all religions essentially lead to the same place.

2) The Embrace of Open Theism - So many of the college students and young adults that I work with have bought into this doctrine, which among other things, teaches that God does not know the future. They would teach that God knows all of the possible futures, but not a specific future. This has a major impact on how we view the omniscience of God, what we believe about prayer, etc.

3) Homosexuality - How does the church respond to the homosexual community? How do you teach biblical principles regarding homosexuality and still love homosexuals?

4) Ecclesiology - House church? Emerging church? Traditional? Contemporary? Multi-ethnic? Homogeneous? Seeker sensitive? Seeker driven? Gather for edification, scatter for evangelism? Mega-church, bad? Mega-church, good?

5) The Bible - Absolute truth? Inerrant? Infallible? I belive it is with all of my heart. I'm in the minority.

6) Social Justice, Global Warming, etc. - Creation care has caused quite a stir in recent months. Younger Evangelicals are passionate about social justice. Jesus was passionate about social justice. What would Jesus do?

7) Red Letter Christians - Are Jesus' words the most important in all of Scripture? Do we pay as much attention to the teaching of Paul, Peter, John, etc.? What about the Old Testament?

8) Infighting in the Church - Satan is having a heyday here. When does God want us to go to the mat with other Christians? Emerging church vs. Traditional Church? Prayer styles? Worship styles? Theological issues? Urban vs. Suburban?

9) Jesus Junk - The consumerization of the American church. When is enough, enough? What is too much?

10) Friend or Foe? - Is the Gospel a friend to culture or a foe to culture?
What do you think?


I'll work my way through the list and give my take (worth every cent you are paying for it!) as someone who hasn't been to a theological school and thus don't have a "system" I like to follow. Obviously, I've been influenced by the churches I've been a part of and books I've read!

10) Friend or Foe? - Is the Gospel a friend to culture or a foe to culture?

A bit simplistic to make it an either/or situation don't you think? There are some parts that are good and some parts that aren't. I'd say the American ideal of re-invention and possibility are good things about life in the USA. God's grace in our lives is about possibilities and transformation and growth. From my Chinese culture, I see the strong honor your parents component as consistent with Biblical commands. On the downside, Asian culture stresses conformity which flies against the unity in diversity picture of the multi-racial worship of God the Gospel makes possible. America's keep-up-with-the-Jones mentality skates dangerously close if not into the realm of idolatry.

9) Jesus Junk - The consumerization of the American church. When is enough, enough? What is too much?

No question one of the struggles of life in the United States is being too fond of our "stuff." Our life isn't in stuff yet somehow in the USA, we often feel that we need more stuff to be happy. I don't have a hard rule on how much money should one spend on say a car. However, in my neighborhood there are a lot of very nice cars which I couldn't afford and I'd feel uncomfortable spending that much if I had the money to spend on such a car. Living in Los Angeles it is pretty hard to get by without one. But as a follower of Jesus, how much money is appropriate to spend on a car?

8) Infighting in the Church - Satan is having a heyday here. When does God want us to go to the mat with other Christians? Emerging church vs. Traditional Church? Prayer styles? Worship styles? Theological issues? Urban vs. Suburban?

There is a difference between form and substance. Forms can be influenced by lots of factors like demographics and culture. If you have a ministry to restaurant workers you probably can't schedule activities on weekends for them because they are all at work! If you are in the suburbs and your church has lots of families with young kids then you should plan things to account for that. Likewise, if your congregation is mostly retired people, do what you got to do.

It is really tough when you have a mixture of all of the above under one roof and you don't have the resources to do all things for all people. That is where we really need to learn to be much more charitable with each other and somehow work together!

As for substance, we just need to be honest if we have a difference of opinion. Absolutely, welcome anyone in need who comes through the church doors... atheist, Mormon, Hindu, pagan, confused, whatever... The Good Samaritan didn't check the id of the guy beaten on the roadside in the famous parable and likewise the church must be a place that is an open and safe place for anyone who is in need.

However, for positions of leadership and responsibility then some "theological correctness" in addition to evidence of good character are fair game and just simply the right thing to do. I don't think it is unreasonably for denomination X to expect their pastors to subscribe to the vast majority of their distinctives. Even non-denominational churches have some (or should) doctrinal statements rooted in the historic Christian faith. Clearly there is a lot of debate within the Christian community as to what constitutes the bare essentials. But as one of my old pastors use to say, unity on the essentials and charity on everything else.

7) Red Letter Christians - Are Jesus' words the most important in all of Scripture? Do we pay as much attention to the teaching of Paul, Peter, John, etc.? What about the Old Testament?

I've heard a little bit about this. Seems to me there are two aspects to this movement: political and theological.

The political movement appears to be a reaction to the conservative evangelical support of the Republican party. It is simplistic to say but it is generally true that this new group is composed of Christians who are politically left of center.

The picture of American political views is actually quite a bit more complicated than secular vs. religious and conservative vs. liberal. If those were the only options, there would only be four "tribes" in the American electorate. Instead, it is suggested that there are Twelve Tribes in American politics!

As a theological enterprise, are the Words of Jesus more important than the rest of the Bible?

There is precedent for this kind of thought in the Jewish religion where the Torah, the 5 books of Moses, are held as the highest Scriptures followed by the Prophets and the Writings.

Though in theory many Christians hold all of Scriptures as equally inspired and thus valuable, in practice, most sermons come from the New Testament. And depending on the church, some will be preaching more from the Gospels about Jesus and others from the Letters of the Apostle Paul. It is also probably true that when the Bible is being translated into a new language, the first books to be translated would be the Gospels.

Thus, as a matter of establishing a framework to define the faith, one would naturally go first to the Words and Deeds of Jesus.

However, the temptation of the Red Letter movement would be to discard everything from Romans onward. That would be problematic.

6) Social Justice, Global Warming, etc. - Creation care has caused quite a stir in recent months. Younger Evangelicals are passionate about social justice. Jesus was passionate about social justice. What would Jesus do?

I think Social Justice is a time honored part of Christian spiritual expression. Wilberforce and the fight against slavery would be a part of this tradition. American Christians were at the front of fighting slavery. Religious motivations were behind part of the Civil Rights Movement.

What troubles me today though is that Christians who have strong social justice instincts can wind up somewhat captive to either political party.

For instance, some Christians who are very pro-environment and are very concerned about the global warming issue can become stuck with other things the Democrats support which they really don't like.

Likewise, Christians who see the pro-life issue as a social justice issue get stuck with stuff in the Republican party they don't like.

The Global Warming issue has gotten a lot of press lately. However, I'm concerned that it has taken a life of its own apart from good solid science. Statements like "there are no serious questions about the reality of global warming" is troubling to me. There are scientists who have concerns about the data. Additionally, there is a dollars and sense question of priorities of what to fight: if you have $1 billion to spend, do you spend it on fighting global warming or on malaria in Africa?

Besides global warming, the social justice train is concerned with issues of economics. This can get tricky because economics is tied to questions of political power. It may sound nice in the abstract to redistribute wealth as advocated by socialists and communists but that comes with totalitarian governments and when you give government the power to take people's money and property, they can take other things to.

Likewise, a total free market system can lead to a law of the jungle kind of trouble.

As I see it, I do lean toward the free market because I'd rather have power diffused rather than concentrated in the government. However, I do have to trust that enough people have compassion to ensure that we don't fall into a social Darwinism where a certain segment of the population gets trampled.

5) The Bible - Absolute truth? Inerrant? Infallible?

There is a huge inter-mural debate about which of the above terms best applies to Scripture. Absolute truth? Indeed, about the spiritual condition of man and God's plan of reconciliation!

Inerrant/infallible? Theologians can slug that one out until the cows come home. My bottom line is summarized in this blog post where my I view the Bible as God's message to us.
I recognize the following statements are articles of faith.
(1) I believe that God desires to communicate to humanity certain things.
(2) I believe God interacted with human authors to produce a body of text.
(3) I believe that God guided the church to properly identify which body of text to hold as authoritative.
(4) I believe that God has blessed the community of faith with scribes who have copied the text reliably, scholars who apply textual criticism to remove the boo-boos and translators who bring the text into the many languages of the world accurately.

The Bible I hold in my hands (#4) is a reliable reflection of #1.

4) Ecclesiology - House church? Emerging church? Traditional? Contemporary? Multi-ethnic? Homogeneous? Seeker sensitive? Seeker driven? Gather for edification, scatter for evangelism? Mega-church, bad? Mega-church, good?

I attended a youth workers conference a few years back. The speaker had us gather into groups based on our age by decade. Lots of groups with 20s. Many 30s, a few 40s, and indeed there were groups with 50s and 60s!

The speaker offered this encouragement: look around and see how many different types of people are working with youth; because there are so many different kinds of kids we need all kinds of youth volunteers to serve in youth groups!

So my view on churches styles is simple: unity on the essentials of the faith and diversity of forms to reach people!

Non-profit of the month: September 2010 - AIDS Healthcare Foundation

The good book says, "Love your neighbor."

In the early 1990s, my laboratory research projects involved trying to understand some of the details of how HIV survives. At that time, there were few medical options.

Today, there are medications that help keep the virus in check, but the disease remains a major problem here and around the world. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is on the front-lines of fighting HIV/AIDS with education, testing and medical care. One of my friends at my church works with AHF in clinical care of patients. A number of us at my church will be participating in the Cal AIDS Walk as a way to stand with those who face life with HIV/AIDS.

When a neighbor is in need, we must help and I hope you will consider supporting the work of AHF as one way to do so.

Please consider making a contribution at my Cal AIDS Walk pledge page. The funds will go to AHF and other organizations addressing the needs of individuals with HIV/AIDS.

Thank you and God bless!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Copyright: Quoting Bible Translations

I have to say I hadn't even thought about the issue of copyright until I read this item over at the web site that hosts the NET Bible. Excerpt: Bible copyright policies typically require special permission before Internet posting, writing commentaries, allowing mission organizations to translate works into other languages, or when quotations exceed some verse limit.

Unless I crawl through all the blog posts on this site and count up the verses I've cut and pasted, I have no way of knowing if am out of compliance in terms of exceeding the number of verses cited without obtaining written permission. Likewise, I haven't indicated the version I was citing at the time of preparing the blog post. In any event, it would be a lengthy effort to fulfill the letter of the law in this case.

I hope this effort here will be taken as a good faith effort to acknowledge the intellectual property rights of the various publishers Bible translations I have used on this blog.

I have cited from the following translations:

English Standard Version

New American Standard Bible

New International Version.

New King James Version.

New Living Translation.

The Message.

Today's New International Version.

Going forward, I'll be quoting from the NET Bible since their copyright parameters lend it to easy usage on blogs. When I do quote from the other translations, I'll be much more attentive to tag the version used in a citation.

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Devotional Thoughts: Prayers for those who lead us in church on Sundays

O Lord,

May those who lead us in church have heart's fast bound against worldly thoughts or cares.

Flood their minds with peace beyond understanding.

May they lead us into ...
sweet meditations,
worship filled with liberty and joy,
drinking from the living streams that flow from you
and preparation to feast on the Word and the Sacrament.

May their efforts be used by your Spirit to knit our hearts to Jesus.

Our LORD God,

We long that your people would be built up with divine truth and bear honest testimony of you.

Give assistance to those who will lead us in worship, prayer and preaching.

When we gather as a community, may your people be refreshed, melted, convicted, comforted.

May preachers point our hearts toward Christ's incarnation, sufferings and resurrection that we would be made holy.

Give our pastors the Spirit's support, comfort, strength, holiness that he would be a pure channel of your grace and thus enabled to serve your people.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.

Prayers adapted from Valley of Vision, pp. 189 & 192.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Life: Remembering 9/11

AA11, 8:46AM
UA175, 9:03AM
AA77, 9:37AM
UA93, 10:03AM

image source:

National 9/11 Memorial in New York

image source:

Pentagon Memorial

image source:

Flight 93 Memorial

The last messages from United flight 93:
After a long pause, the recording device then picks up the sound of banging on the cockpit door.

"There is something, a fight?" one of the hijackers asks.

Another replies: "Yeah."

Some of the passengers have by now made cell phone calls to their loved ones, telling them they are going to try to take back control of the airplane rather than let innocent people on the ground be included in the carnage.

At least one person on board Flight 93 apparently thought at this point that the group could successfully overpower the hijackers and save their fellow passengers, the transcript suggests.

"Shall we finish it off?" a hijacker says in English.

"In the cockpit! If we don't, we die," someone shouts in English.

An individual says in Arabic: "Should we put it down?"

Sounds then indicate a struggle in the cockpit as the plane vibrates violently.

Someone yells in English: "Pull it up!"

"Shall we put it down?" one hijacker asks. Another replies: "Yes, put it down."

An Arabic speaker says: "Allah is the greatest."

In English comes the shout: "No!"

The recording ends with the repeat of the words "Allah is the greatest."

Then there is silence.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Christianity 101: Part III, Jesus, the Christ

image source:

Sooner rather than later, any series of essays on the meaning of Christianity has to address the question of who was Jesus?

Christians claim Jesus is the Christ. It should be noted that Christ is a title not that Jesus was his first name and Christ was his last name.

But if Christians claim Jesus is the Christ, everyone else says, Jesus is ... something else.

That something else could be as respectable as a good teacher, a prophet, a miracle worker, a wise man, a great leader, etc. And of course, some will argue, he never existed and if he did, he bears little resemblance to the New Testament Scriptures.

There is evidence in other historical works beyond the writings of the Christian Scriptures that Jesus existed so the view that he did not exist at all is held by very few people. As to the reliability of the New Testament, that is a source of scholarly debate. The situation is that the large number, wide geographical distribution, antiquity and high degree of similarity of the ancient documents that comprise the New Testament is very striking in comparison to any other ancient texts. Additionally, there is no getting around the reality that an entire community of faith grew up around the Jesus described there. This isn't proof but it is suggestive evidence.

When one reads the New Testament, various titles are given to Jesus, the most notable being: Christ, Messiah, Lord, Son of God and Son of Man.

Thus, Christians, of course, proclaim Jesus as the Christ. What does that mean? Christ is the Greek word for "the anointed one." The Hebrew word for "the anointed one" is Messiah. The NT uses Christ much more frequently but the two words refer to the same concept. Quoting directly from the dictionary entries, "It denotes that he was anointed or consecrated to his great redemptive work as Prophet, Priest, and King of his people."

When Christians accept Jesus as the Christ, we are also accepting that human beings need to be redeemed. Not everyone buys the idea that human beings are separated from God and imprisoned in our sins. But if one does, God has provided a solution through Jesus as the Christ.

From what I have heard, one theological debate has been whether the Jewish people of that time, in their anticipation of the Christ, were expecting the Christ to be divine and thus, God? Would that be necessary? Could that mission have been accomplished without the Messiah being divine? I don't know. But the idea that the Messiah, the redeemer, would be God himself is amazingly wonderful to contemplate.

In the NT, Jesus is often referred to as Lord, a title of divinity in some cases. In fairness, in some cases, it might be that the speaker was saying something akin to, "sir" or "your honor" or some other designation of respect short of a statement of divinity. Thus, one has to look at the context of how it is used to decide whether it is an attribution of divinity. Certainly, in the non-Gospel sections of the New Testament, the Lord title, in context, is often a strong statement of divinity.

Son of God is the most obvious title of divinity applied to Jesus. Yet ... in the Gospels ... many people who met Jesus didn't recognize his divinity because he was not a booming voice from the sky though I'm sure when he preached he got at least some people's attention! He wasn't a bright blinding light or a burning bush... rather he was God come in the flesh who dwelt among us as one of us (John 1:14). He was both divine and human.

Son of Man is the title Jesus probably used most often for himself and it is believed Jesus used that title because his Jewish listeners would think of Daniel 7:13-14. Thus, the title, which on its face sounds like a claim to the humanity, has a theological claim to a divine messiah who claims authority and victory in Daniel 7.

Yet, when Jesus used the claim "son of man" it was sometimes in the context of suffering and servanthood (ex. Matthew 20:26-28). Thus, it would seem that Jesus claimed a title that would be recognized by his listeners to have a certain meaning (Daniel 7) and he adds additional meaning to it!

The multifaceted reality of Jesus claims became more striking to me when I was reading about the earthy scene of the disciples eating grain that provoked Jesus' teaching on the Sabbath. In that passage, Jesus claimed his authority as the Son of Man and Lord of the Sabbath to correct misunderstanding about the practice of Sabbath. As mentioned above, the Son of Man is a claim to messiahship. Lord of the Sabbath is a divine claim recalling the institution of Sabbath in Genesis. Jesus claims BOTH titles.

Indeed, the fullness of Jesus identity is a great mystery!

But we have to come back to his mission and the bottom line is this: Jesus, by his life on earth, death on the Cross, resurrection from the dead and future return, has made reconciliation with God possible to those who would trust in Him!

Jesus, the Christ, fully human, fully divine, of two natures yet one person within the one great and gracious God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit has made reconciliation with God possible to those who would trust in Him!

There have been many statements about Jesus and this blog post stands as yet another believer's feeble attempt to give a glimpse of the wonder of who Jesus is. I previously posted a summary of a lecture I heard from Prof. Fred Sanders on the identity of Jesus. As you can see some of what I wrote here was influenced by that presentation.

Looking to history, the most famous "creed" pertaining to the identity of Jesus is the middle portion of the Fourth Century Nicene Creed.

Of the passages in the Bible itself, be sure to read John 1:1-14 and Philippians 2:1-11.

Bask in the wonder of Jesus! Fall down in worship!

Friday, September 03, 2010

LA Law: McCourt Trial and the Dodger Debts

LAT on the story ... excerpt:
Since buying the Dodgers for $430 million six years ago, Frank McCourt has so heavily leveraged the team — $433 million in debt as of last year — that he has struggled to find additional financing.

The debt load has limited how the Dodgers can pay their players and could affect the team's ability to sign talent.

McCourt was turned down at least three times — by Citibank, by a Chinese investment group and by a Southern California infomercial king — in trying to secure additional financing last year, according to documents filed in the divorce case between him and his estranged wife, Jamie.

$433,000,000 in debt!

Further down the article it says:
$72 million operating revenue
$8.4 million net profit
$28 million debt service (38.8%)
$34 million revenue-sharing payments.

Hmmm ... how is the USA doing right now?

If these numbers are reliable ...
$2.1 trillion tax revenue
$200.5 billion interest on debt (9.5%)

The US Government isn't yet at a place where it is likely to default on its debts. The McCourt's in the eyes of the potential lenders are at risk of default.

Thus, somewhere between 9.5% and 38.8% debt servicing as percentage of revenue, lenders begin to get nervous.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

LA Law: Jury Duty, Part V, Day 4

Day 4 began with the prosecution saying they had no questions for jurors 16-18. I was prospective juror #18.

The questioning at times could be quite intense.

The judge usually was pretty mild. He might press a bit to clarify what a juror wrote on the questionnaire. The prosecution usually was too. Mostly seeking clarification. At times, the defense seemed to push harder to get the juror to reveal their views on things.

Once something gets out in the open like the jurors strong views for or against capital punishment, the questioning ceases.

In the huddles with the judge, defense and prosecution to decide which jurors are removed for cause, I'm guessing the lawyers for the respective sides are trying to convince the judge to excuse a juror for cause rather than having to use one of their own peremptory challenges. Apparently, both sides are allocated a finite number of peremptory challenges.

During peremptory challenges, they look over their notes about the existing jurors in the box and also look around at the remaining prospective jurors probably trying to figure out whether who is in the box is the "best" option or they should try to question a few more prospective ones.

In the end, the job of the two sides would be to identify jurors who would be sympathetic to their side but fair enough to both sides so one side or the other won't seek to remove them. We wouldn't want jurors who automatically assume the defendant is guilty. Likewise, we don't want jurors who would assume law enforcement officials fudge the facts to make the arrests.

Without "mind reading" machines, how do we identify fair jurors?

And so we answer 30+ pages of questions and get questioned by the judge, the defense and the prosecution. And somehow, a jury of 12 people (plus 6 alternates) gets selected and they decide guilty or not guilty? And if guilty, is the defendant guilty of the special circumstances? And if so, then they have to decide with one voice, whether or not the death penalty should be imposed.

Even sitting as a prospective juror, I felt the weight of this burden. As a someone who supports the death penalty, was I willing to sit on a jury for 2 months (thus missing work) and sharing the responsibility of perhaps actually imposing a death sentence? The answer was yes, I was willing, not gladly, but out a civic duty.

In the end, I was prospective juror #3 for about 2 hours on the 4th day of jury selection when I was excused by the prosecution in peremptory. I hypothesized that I was excused due to the CSI Effect. In my questionnaire, I indicated that I did watch those kinds of TV shows and my molecular biology background probably added to the prosecution concerns about wanted too much of this kind of evidence to support their case.

In my conversations with other prospective jurors (we didn't discuss any specifics of the case), none of us wanted to be on the jury but I think we were all moved by Judge Wesley's passionate speech at the beginning of jury selection about it being a civic duty and how the disruption of our lives pales in comparison to the sacrifice of military personnel and their families.

I had only thought about the death penalty in the abstract and really didn't understand how it worked and I think many of us were in that situation.

Is the system "fair"?

I suppose one wonders in the absolute abstract sense.

Is it "fair" in comparison to what? Fair as it is now to some other hypothetical ways we could handle these kinds of cases? I'm sure people disagree.

But I don't see how else to do it until we have mind reading machines and video cameras everywhere ... we have this system where two sides contend to convince 12 ordinary people.

UPDATE: Since I was not selected to be on the jury, I can now read the news about the case.

UPDATE: The jury found the defendant's guilty on all charges.

UPDATE: The jury has voted for the death penalty.