Monday, March 31, 2014

Is "moderate Islam" an oxymoron?

I received an email, with the above title, that makes the case that all Muslims are extremists. I have to disagree. The key to understanding my position lies in a look at Judaism and Christianity.

Judaism has what Christians call "apostates," those who have left the faith; and it has "heretics," those who were raised outside the faith and either through error or through hostility, undermine the faith. At the extreme, some of these people remain religious and follow cults such as Kabbala or (from their perspective) our Yeshua. In the middle, the vast majority follow some semi-agnostic variety of Judaism that is Jewish primarily by culture. The real Jews are the Orthodox Jews, whose males often wear some element of a uniform such as yarmulkes or beards to identify themselves.

Christians are the same way. There are plenty of heretical sects such as Mormons, The Watchtower (Jehovah's [false] Witnesses, and Unitarians. In the middle are the mainline denominations that use a Christian vocabulary but have lost the Christian faith. For example, in the United Methodist Church, a poll many years ago revealed that half the pastors denied the virgin birth and the resurrection. With so many holes cut in their Bibles, it's no surprise that most "mainstream" Christian churches cooperate in the ecumenical movement, whose aim is to join with all theologies, even including New Age religions, animist, aboriginal religions, and "moderate" Islam -- essentially, a precursor to the One World Religion of Antichrist. I would put  the apostate Westboro Baptist Church in that category. I think you might be willing to put the Liberation Theology branch of Catholicism in that category, too.

The main thing that ties together all those "heretical" and "apostate" varieties of Jewish and Christian beliefs is their treacherous lip service to The Bible. They either believe God isn't god, or God doesn't care enough to communicate truthfully with man and then preserve that communication. Functionally, they are agnostics who prefer to err on the faith side instead of erring on the side of atheism. They contrast with evangelical or fundamentalist believers, and they make up the majority of Christians. (The sense with which I mean "evangelical or fundamentalist" includes those who have a strict faith in Catholicism.)

Islam has a similar distribution of faith. I don't know whether the majority of Muslims are functional agnostics the way most Christians are, although I've met a lot who are. I've met a few who might compare to mainstream Christians that border the Evangelicals. They retain the culture and worship; but in practice, they don't treat the Koran as a reliable revelation of their god.

I've described a perspective that views a moderate in anything as falling short of "true believer." For example, if you disagree with the Constitution and the reasoning behind it, you are fooling yourself if you claim to believe in Americanism and be a patriot. Similarly, "moderate Islam" is an oxymoron, just like "mainstream Christian" or "non-Orthodox Jew" are oxymorons. If the words apply to one, they have to apply to the others.

The difference is that, in Islam's case, moderation is a very, very good thing.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Hyper Grace, Hyper Repentance, and the Middle Ground

Response to

Rooting Out Fuzzy Theology Behind the Hyper-Grace Message

Charisma Magazine online 9:21AM EDT 4/2/2013

Two Types of Repentance

Most Charismatics Christians (they mistakenly call themselves Pentecostals) fail to distinguish between two types of repentance. Peter explicitly names the first type, and only regarding changing minds FROM rejection of Messiah TO receiving Him. The New Testament only describes the second type without naming it "repentance." We label the second type "repentance," but the label is not Biblical, although it works as long as one does not confuse the two.
Unfortunately, many people DO confuse the two.
The first repentance exchanges a broken-down death trap of a clunker for a brand new car. The dealer has stamped "IT IS FINISHED" on the papers, sent the clunker to the recyclers, and placed the new owner's name in the Lamb's Book of Car Registrations. That new car irrevocably belongs to the new owner.
The second repentance leads to cleaning up the car, driving on better roads in accordance with the Car Ownership Bible, repairing any damage and wear, and learning to use it for profitable purposes. The owner may dent the car, soil it, and fail to maintain it until it's no earthly good. A judge may tell the owner to take it off the road. But the car will always belong to the owner.

Confusing Grace and Repentance

Many people confuse the two. When the car gets dirty, they foolishly keep returning to the dealership to ask for the car again. As the author implies, however, they would be wise to return to the Dealer as many times as needed to maintain and learn more about their car.
Just as one extreme insults the blood of Christ by excusing sin that has been washed away, the other insults the blood by ignoring its sufficiency and attempting to re-apply it, even though "there remains no more offering for sin."

Contrasting the Dangers of the Two Hypers

If we wish to compare the dangers of the two, hyper repentance poses the greater danger. Lost people who have learned hyper repentance add self-reliance on repentance to reliance on Christ. Paul explicitly explains that grace and works mutually exclude each other. The Giver does not give gifts to those who ask for wages.
Therefore, both hypers present practical dangers to the saved, but hyper repentance adds an everlasting danger to the lost.
The irony lies not in the Ravenhill's attempt to correct hyper grace (for which I am grateful), but in that he does so from within the territory of hyper repentance.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013


My dad warned me against women who would take advantage of me, but he should have warned me against my own predatory, testosterone-poisoned mind.

In the natural mind, the goal of dating is "hooking up" or "scoring." This puts the wrong pressures on people who date. Reaching the goal sets you up for heartbreak and endangers the future of the relationship. Most dangerously, the carnal definition of "dating" risks creating an innocent human life whom you sentence to, at best, the stigma of illegitimacy, the emotional wounds of growing up fatherless, or at worst, the torture of being chemically burned to death or being vivisected, without even the benefit of anaesthetic, before birth.

Proper dating, however, can serve as a tool of socialization: learning self restraint, learning to enjoy, understand, and honor the opposite sex, and developing friendships.

I did not realize until I was around 25 that I needed to correct my goals in dating. I changed from looking for a wife to learning to enjoy women as friends, without the sexual or marital agenda.

Think of how men and women approach shopping. A woman enjoys shopping for the experience, whereas a man sets a goal of hunting down his prey, the specific item or deal. As I matured, I learned to shop at hardware stores just to get ideas and to see what's available for solving problems later. That's similar to the mindset one needs in dating.

Around my 27th birthday, I was praying for somebody to disciple. The Lord revealed to me that a man's ultimate disciple is (or ought to be) his wife. That was the end of that prayer request.

About a month later, God gave me that disciple. It did not take years of dating to know that she was the one. By the end of the year, we were married. It's been almost 30 years, now. The point is, a guy needs to look at dating as practice lessons in leadership, discipling, and responsibility, too.

With the right mindset about the purpose of dating, it becomes a lot easier to counter testosterone poisoning. Date to enjoy, to learn, to develop restraint. Let the goals come in their own time.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What's So Bad about Being a Liberal?

First, not all that presents itself as conservative is actually conservative.

The Republican Party poorly represents conservatism. In fact, the GOP vacillates between moderately conservative on some issues and liberal economics and internationalism. I would guess that a third of the GOP is actually liberal, a third sticks a wet finger in the air, and a minority is actually conservative. For example, George W. Bush got tax cuts passed early in his administration, but cooperated with Democrat-led bail-outs of banks and GM.

So, let's not use Republicans to define the opposite of liberalism.

Second, being liberal is a good thing; and progress is good when the goal is good and the means are just. Being a liberal or a progressive, however, has a very peculiar meaning that does not necessarily connect to the root words, liberal and progress.

In my definitions (not necessarily standard, but offered for the sake of communication), conservatism seeks to preserve traditional values of liberty, self-reliance, and justice that does not respect persons.

Liberalism, or as the codeword is used today, progressivism, on the other hand, redefines a neutral term. Progress is good, right? Doesn't everybody love progress?

When you say change (as in hope and change) or progress, you have to pick a direction. You have to pick an origination and a destination. Depending on your definition of progress, it may or may not mean something good. The compass has only one North, but it has 359 degree-markers that point away from North.

Suppose your objective were to see far with an unobstructed view, so you climb the highest mountain. Progress would be pretty stupid if it meant trekking off that cliff to the West, wouldn't it? What else could you do? You could build a tower where you are, on your existing foundation. But would you leave the spot just because change is good?

The progressive compass points hard left, to 270 degrees, toward freedom for immorality and toward repression of traditional morality, toward collectivist statism, and toward "social justice" that bases rights on class, skin color, and sexual orientation.

American conservatives see progressive, liberal, socialist, and Marxist, as variations of a single philosophy. That philosophy derives from secular, materialist existentialism, in which interpretation is reality, objective truth is a myth, and the ultimate organism is the state.

Whereas Americanism states that authority flows from God through the People to the government, the progressive spectrum worships the Collective as the ultimate organism, whose people live at its pleasure. Americanism secures rights to the people and assigns responsibilities to the government, but progressivism gives the government rights and the people privileges. Conservative liberalism means personal tolerance and personal giving (to which the restaurant help will attest after any political convention), but Progressive liberalism forces promotion of the tolerable and gives at the expense of others.

If you believe black is white and right is wrong, then, I suppose, being a liberal is great.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

What Fact Check Sites Do You Prefer?

Do you prefer Snopes, Factcheck, what? Thanks, L
The fact-check and urban legends sites have helped me avoid embarrassing myself many times. There's nothing like forwarding a request from a 7-year-old cancer victim, only to find that he's now 27, has to pay for his own zip code, and wishes people would stop sending him post cards for his collection.
When it comes to political or social issues, however, I don't trust any of them.
  • PolitiFact is a project of the St. Petersberg Times, an extreme left-wing newspaper. Click HERE for an example of how their Lie of the Year with which they smeared Mitt Romney turned out to be true.
  • FactCheck, FlackCheck, and FactCheckEd are a projects of Annenberg Public Policy Center and funded by the Annenberg Foundation. As board chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, Barack Obama (or was he still Barry Soetoro?) helped fund "educational" activities of Bill Ayers, the 1960s terrorist who murdered at least one policeman with a bomb. What does that tell you about FactCheck's neutrality?
  • Snopes is funded by George Soros, a pro-socialist billionaire and currency manipulator who boasts that he has overthrown at least two European countries. The editors of Snopes are Obama bundlers and one has even held an appointment in the Obama administration.
  • The Fact Checker is a project of The Washington Post, a veritable media outlet for the Democrat Party.
No short-cut around visiting various sources and weighing the arguments. However, find the following sites quite helpful:
If you have a favorite site for checking the veracity of what you hear from the media or the politicians, please let us know in the comments.

Friday, January 11, 2013

When Liberals Get Tough on Crime....

I see a common trope in the news that I call, When Liberals 'get tough on crime....'
  • A kindergartener takes a 3/4" rubber GI Joe knife to school
  • Seven-year-olds shoot at each other with "finger guns" while playing cops and robbers
  • A teenage girl gives Midol to a classmate having menstrual cramps
...and they get suspensions and juvenile records.
  • Or an Olympic rifle champion gets arrested for having his target rifle (with trigger lock and a locked bag) locked in the trunk of his car when picking up his child from school.
  •  A man shoots an armed home invader and is sent to prison for illegally using a gun.
 When Liberals 'get tough on crime....' predicts the following:
  • SWAT teams knocking down the doors of anybody who has ever been diagnosed with depression or anxiety (information courtesy of Obamacare) and who has a record of having applied to purchase a firearm (information courtesy of background check applications)
  •  "Clean shoots" by police officers reacting to people startled out of their sleep and pointing flashlights at the intruders.
The second prediction reminds me of a little boy in Modesto, California, who was killed a few years ago by the "accidental discharge" of a shotgun pointed at his back while he laid, hands bound, on the floor during a legal (but mistaken) search of his grandfather's house.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What difference does homosexual marriage make?

JP: What difference does homosexual marriage make? How would someone getting married to someone else affect you in anyway? Never understood why we as conservatives are so hell bent on less government, but then turn around and try to twist government into a watchdog for religious or social dogma. If we want less government, then stay out of the bedroom. What 2 consenting adults do, in their own time, is none of your, or my business.

  • JP, you twist government into a watchdog for so-called homosexual rights. That twists government into a bigger government.
  • You want to twist homosexual acts (the bedroom privacy sham) into the same thing as homosexual marriage. That twists logic.
  • You twist government recognition of families that can create children into the same thing as a police state. That twists truth into a lie.
  • You twist the effects on insurance rates, employment rights, and freedom of association into having no affect on others. That twists short-sightedness into a gag order.
In short, your cliches are just plain twisted.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Obama: You Didn't Build That

People think that Me-me-me-my-my-my-I-I-I-bama's speech makes sense only because his speechwriters sugarcoat false reasoning. His error stems from the hidden socialist dogma that the business is not responsible for the roads, utilities, regulators, delivered in tones of fake outrage. Rather, he implies, the contributions of employees, utility workers, bureaucrats, etc, add significant value to the business. This assumption deceives for two reasons.

First, the business pays, through taxes to the government, wages to employees, interest and fees to lenders, and dividends to stockholders, for all those things Ibama says contributed to building the business. A new business may pay afterwards instead of before, but it still pays. It says that if you pay somebody to do make something you thought of, they get all the credit, as though you had nothing to do with it.

This couldn't be more wrong. If you buy a painting, you own it. If you buy a pizza, you have the right to eat it. Likewise, if you pay for all those ancillary contributions, then you get the credit for building the business.

Second, all those external factors would exist whether you build the business or don't. The contribution is mutual because, without the business, unused roads and utilities would be failures due to lack of use and would be failures due to lack of sponsorship. The electric company, the construction companies, employees, and bureaucrats profit from the presence of the business.

By Ibama's reasoning, when you build that business, you get to take credit for all those other things, too. But Ibama is a committed Marxist, so he loses his sense of reality amid all the big words and false intellectualism. "You didn't build that" is sophistic: It sounds brilliant, but when you slow down and think, you hear the foolishness.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

In Business, Take Time to Do the Calculations

Reference:  Weiser, Matt . California Parks Director Resigns Amid Scandal. Sacramento Bee. Friday, 20 July 2012.

As California balances between eternal debt and bankruptcy, the Democrats in Sacramento look for excuses to raise taxes and spending. One such excuse, the shortfall of funds to keep California State Parks open, has forced many volunteers into fundraising and forced local governments into shifting their own funds into keeping state parks open to  draw tourist dollars.

The Sacramento Bee found that a deputy director at State Parks "carried out a secret vacation buyout program for employees at department headquarters last year. That buyout cost the state more than $271,000." This led to a much larger find: The State Parks department his hiding $54 million in unspent funds.

State Parks Director Ruth Coleman resigned after the Bee published news of the stash. The employee who bought back vacation time had already been demoted and later resigned. His crime, in my opinion, discriminated between his friends at the headquarters and those who work equally hard in the field.

I believe the withholding of funds could only happen in concert with Democrat attempts to extort more taxes from the public. That's how Democrats do things in California government.

The gem in the original story follows:  For the sake of argument, let's assume we have two employees:

  1. Mr. Buyout sells his vacation time back to the state.
    Mr. Vacation enjoys taking time off to go protest with OWS.

  2. Vacation is earned over the course of the year.
    Both employees make $50/hour.

  3. Both have 160 hours/month x 12 months/year (rounding) and 40 hours vacation

This means

  • Mr. Buyout works 1920 hours for 1960 hours' pay.
    Mr. Vacation works 1880 hours for 1920 hours' pay. 

  • Mr. Buyout makes $98,000.
    Mr. Vacation makes $96,000. 

  • Mr. Buyout has an effective pay rate of $51.042 per hour.
    Mr. Vacation has an effective pay rate of $51.064 per hour.

Mr. Buyout actually makes 2 cents per hour less.

Two cents/hour is not much, but consider a couple more factors.

First, when you add in the effects of benefits and overhead, the difference multiplies to 3 to 4 cents per hour.  Employers love forcing employees to work overtime because the benefits are paid for by the first 1920 hours' labor. With benefits costing 50% to 100% of the base pay, that means employee overtime effectively costs 33%-50% less (assuming pay at straight time rates, if any).

On a tangent, managers often put their directs in a position where overtime is forced and vacation is denied.  Both practices hinder productivity and morale.  When employees forced to work lose unused vacation, it amounts to stealing.  Therefore, vacation buyouts often form an ethically necessary action.

Second, if you multiply 2 cents/hour over a year and thousands of employees, the added productivity and lowered effective cost create a good deal for the taxpayers.

Conclusion:  The state punished the fellow who conducted the buyouts for doing a good thing. THAT, dear friend, is California government, just as much as hiding funds to force increased taxes.  The business-related point is, "do the math."  The worker who violates procedure may have done so because it was right for the company and simply, ethically right.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review: Our Favorite Sins

Todd Hunter's "Our Favorite Sins" has the right idea. For the most part, Hunter's insights are thought-provoking and inspiring. Many of his chapter start with specific examples of sins, only to veer away from the topic at hand to discuss sin in a more general sense. This lack of organization would annoy if it weren't for the strength of the rest of his writing.

I found it difficult to put down the book as Hunter found more and more ways to explain his main point - that our evil desires come from within and must be reordered if we are to deal with and quit our sins. Hunter uses the example of Joseph, whose desires were reordered in such a way that he was able to think of God first when Potiphar's wife attempted to seduce him. He refused her.

Hunter says that we can refuse sin, too, if we reorder our desires. Hunter's suggestions, which he gives in the last quarter of the book, clearly show his Anglican background, however. While reading and memorizing prayers, listening to Scripture at church and participating in communion are all good things, Hunter seems to place their importance over that of the Bible itself, of reading the Bible for oneself. And his insistence that these "spiritual disciplines" be done on a regular daily basis morning, day and night would likely have most Christians overwhelmed.

I understand the importance of making certain things regular parts of our lives in order to grow spiritually and stay strong, but Hunter never addresses the possibility that those things can be taken too far - to the point of creating a works-based faith. He never really seems to get to the heart of solution, either. His insights on our sinful desires are wonderful, but there is so much more to be said and done beyond the few spiritual disciplines Hunter focuses on. I know this from personal experience.

So, if you can read the beginning of Hunter's book by itself, or read the whole book with what I've written in mind, you'll be able to take a lot away from this book. Just be careful.

*This book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review of it.