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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Disarming

When we ask nations not to develop nuclear arms, is that a principled position or a pragmatic position. In other words, encouraging democracy, I think, is a principled position because I honestly believe democracy is a better form of government. I think it generally improves the lives of the citizens, etc.

While we continue to be armed to the teeth, when we ask other nations not to pursue weapons of mass destruction, we are just looking to maintain our advantage, right?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Koan Question

If you cannot be happy while washing the dishes, can you ever be happy?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Public Transportation: Everyone's Doing It

I have been taking Phoenix Metro to work two or three days a week. I drive 20 minutes to the most eastern stop on the edge of Mesa, then ride about 50 minutes to the stop directly across from my office. When I drive in, because I can use the HOV lanes, it takes about 50 minutes. So, I add 20 minutes to my commute in exchange for more time to read, some of it is even billable, a smaller liklihood of getting into a fender bender and a generally more peaceful morning.

Phoenix is a western city that was not expected to warm to the train any more than it had to busses. For example, the busses in Mesa come every 30 minutes. That makes riding the bus pretty much impossible.

It turns out ridership is way up for the Metro. The average daily ridership is already over 30,000. The projected daily average for the first year was only 26,000. Nice.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Biology of Belief

I can't decide whether I love or hate this article by Jeffrey Kluger. I think his final thought epitomizes my feelings. After acknowledging that prayer will not replace sutures in the emergency room, he closes with
Still, if the U.S.'s expanding health-care emergency has taught us anything, it's that we can't afford to be choosy about where we look for answers. Doctors, patients and pastors battling disease already know that help comes in a whole lot of forms. It's the result, not the source, that counts the most.
There are components of our lives that are not treated by medical doctors. True. And, it is likely that addressing those aspects will lead to better health, in the same way that staying healthy allows me to grow spiritually. It is hard to be peaceful and reflective if I am exhausted from a hacking cough. Likewise, surely my faith will give me a peace that will make me less inclined to seek satisfaction from alcohol, or drugs, or eating, or shopping. But I don't know if I would say that faith and financial planning can work together to get my financial house in order.

The other thing I love and hate about the article is that it addresses very real benefits of faithfulness. It suggests that meditation may have a measurable positive impact on your brain. I would imagine that practicing yoga positions would likewise have a positive impact on your body. I think the article sort of mushes things together though. It doesn't distinguish spiritual practices from spirituality.

Anyway, I'd be interested to hear what others think. It is pretty short.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

War on . . .

Lyndon Johnson had the War on Poverty. Ronald Reagan had the War on Drugs. George Bush had the War on Terror. Bill O'Reilly has the War on Christmas. I've been know to refer to the War on Science or the War on Education.

When we declare "War on" something, it is supposed to suggest a coherent all-in approach to tackle some ill. When we declare someone else had declared "War on" something we suggest a conspiracy or coordinated attack on some good.

Is there any harm to using this metaphor? Is it helpful?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Submarine Collision

According to CNN a British and French submarine collided in the North Atlantic.

First, this is really weird. Both subs were ballistic missile boats, which means each had a mission to remain undetected and capable of launching its missiles for a certain period of time. There is zero chance that either one of these submarines was "hunting" the other. Compare Grayling & Baton Rouge collision in which that is exactly what was going on.

Second, I don't agree that this "had to happen sometime." I have no trouble believing these two boats didn't hear each other, but there is a giant ocean and I think you could have operated forever without a collision. That said, it would be pretty easy to prevent from ever happening again. We could pick depths to operate at. US takes 300-400, UK takes 400-500, etc.

Third, the problem is the French and NATO really don't cooperate super well. It is weird because you'd think all that crap was just for show. But I recall at least on one occasion where there was a submarine screwing around in an area we were operating in, and we wondered if it might have been the French. You would think we could remember we are on the same team.

Finally, I guess you have to admit there is a risk to having floating warheads. My first response to the disarmament folks was just to criticize their hyperbole. But, fact is, a submarine sinking in the ocean would be a bigger deal that a missile silo in North Dakota caving in due to an earth quake. I guess. Although, the reactor is a bigger concern, and even then the diesel fuel on board might very well do the most damage to marine life.

What to do after healing a leper.

Okay, so yesterday I was giving the kids in Sunday School a lesson about Jesus healing the leper in Mark 1:40-45. I took sort of the easy way out and pivoted on the modern metaphorical use of leper, making the lesson about accepting those who others will not accept. We talked about cooties, and being nice to the weird kid in class. Which is fine, but I'm not sure it is the point of gospel writer's story.

Anyway, here is something that Jesus said to the leper that really struck me, "But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them."

I had the kids look up the cross reference and, sure enough, in Leviticus 14:1-32 there is offering to be given when you have someone cured of leprosy. If you follow the link you will notice that there is even a provision for indigent Hebrews if they cannot afford the standard sacrifice.

So, healing lepers (whatever that means) happened often enough that this guy could have gone to the priests and said, "Hey, uh, I've been cured of my leprosy, so, do I sacrifice like a dove, or what?" And they would be able to help him out. This is what keeps bugging me about the healing stories in Mark--the fact of the healing is not particularly miraculous. Jesus is an awesome healer, and that's a big deal, but the systems seems set up to accept the fact of healing already.

My question for those who believe Jesus these healings were very much like modern faith healings, but evidently effective, why are there no more legitimate faith healers? When did that stop?

My question for those who don't believe that Jesus could set his hand on people and make germs and viruses flee the body, what do you think was going on? Was it all a put on? Do you think there was something going on that was lost in translation?