Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"I believe it will rain after me."

Mukhtar Mai is a Pakistani woman who was raped by four village elders. Her story is horrific and maddening, but also inspiring. I was especially struck by what she said when asked what would happen if she were killed:
"I am just the first drop of water in the village," she says quietly. "I believe it will rain after me."

Stunningly powerful.

A 15 year "oversight?"

Pelosi, two other Democrats failed to disclose roles in family charities
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and two other prominent Democrats have failed to disclose they are officers of family charities, in violation of a law requiring members of Congress to report non-profit leadership roles.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the fourth-ranking House Democrat, and Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana also did not report they serve as family foundation directors, according to financial disclosure reports examined by USA TODAY.

All three foundations are funded and controlled by the lawmakers and their spouses, and do not solicit donations from outside sources.

Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said Friday the speaker will amend her reports. He said it "was an oversight" that she had not listed her position dating back to 1992.

Yeah. Sure. Right. Whatever.

Unsurprisingly, this isn't the first time Pelosi has been in trouble involving money:

Pelosi PAC fined $21,000 by federal elections officials
A fund-raising committee run by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was fined $21,000 for improperly accepting donations over federal limits, according to records and interviews.

The political action committee, Team Majority, was one of two PACs Pelosi used to fund candidates during the 2002 campaign. She stopped raising and donating money through the committee more than a year ago, after complaints that she was improperly using the multiple PACs to exceed limits.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

The left's lies about "Left Behind: Eternal Forces"

Lately, there's been a lot of buzz about the PC game "Left Behind: Eternal Forces." A lot of the buzz involves false accusations by the political left. (Example: The Purpose Driven Life Takers.) Among them:

Many parrot the claim - usually sight unseen - that the goal of the game is to "convert or kill." They portray the game play as if you control a paramilitary organization and are expected to kill any and all neutral and evil characters in the game who your characters fail to turn to Christ. Some even go as far as to state that you are supposed to kill any and all non-Christians, moderates, liberals, gays, etc. on sight. This is utterly untrue and completely denied and denounced by the game's creators. In fact, the game manual itself explicitly states, "Your purpose is absolutely NOT to wipe out the enemy forces! Remember, those are PEOPLE he has deceived and can be recruited." Furthermore, the only characters in the game who have the ability to kill are the soldiers and the game manual details at length (far more than any other characters) their role in the game. Here are a few of the important points the game manual makes about soldiers:
*Soldiers have made themselves available to defend your forces from bodily harm and death.

*They are performing their roles as physical defenders, but their #1 goal is still to save as many people from the antichrist as possible.

*With each life he ends, his Spirit level will immediately drop substantially.

*Killing a neutral should be avoided at all costs - and the spiritual penalty for doing so is especially harsh.

*Your duty and moral obligation is to use soldiers as little as humanly possible.

*In extremely rare situations, you might find your Soldiers in a life & death situation...

*Your soldiers... will not fight aggressively without your express orders.

*Your soldiers - even in aggressive mode - will still ignore noncombatants.

"Defend your forces." "Their #1 goal is still to save as many people from the antichrist as possible." "Killing a neutral should be avoided at all costs." "Use soldiers as little as humanly possible." "In extremely rare situations."

Hardly sounds like a game with the goal of "convert or kill," doesn't it? Of course, all of these facts are ignored by the people who are smearing the game, its creators and right-wing Christians.

Some critics have claimed that the game promotes sexism by limiting female characters to certain roles. This claim is nonsense as one of the most powerful characters in the game is the female Prayer Warrior.

Characters in "Eternal Forces" have a statistic known as Spirit. Various actions either raise or lower your Spirit rating. Prayer is an action that can raise it. Some have latched onto this concept and claimed that if your characters kill a neutral or evil character, all you need to do is pray and you'll be fine. This is not entirely true. The fact of the matter is that the game prescribes a sort of "law of diminishing returns." That is to say that a single act of killing can and does cause the loss of more Spirit points than a single act of prayer can restore. Certainly, you can have the offending character pray more, but this eats up game time and your opponents are free to act in the meantime. Additionally, the loss of too many Spirit points can bring about the loss of characters as they can revert to being neutral and you will no longer have any control over them and thus cannot have them pray.

Another accusation is that your goal is to set up (using the afore mentioned "convert or kill" canard) a "Dominionist" theocracy in New York City. This is so egregiously absurd that it defies belief that people would seriously make the accusation. The only theocracy in the game is the one led by the antichrist and your characters are trying to save people from that theocracy. This accusation stems from the equally absurd real-life accusation that conservative Christians want the U.S. to be a theocracy (with George W. Bush as our national pastor). These accusations show the complete ignorance of the people making them about the beliefs of conservative Christians. There is only one theocracy that we want and it is one that will be led by God, not any man, and it won't even come into existence until the new heaven and the new earth come into existence.

Some see this game as promoting the idea that Christians think they can speed the return of Christ by making certain things happen. As usual, this is nonsense. Are there people who think they can speed the return of Christ? I don't know. I've never met or even heard of any. Just the amorphous shadowy figures that the anti-Christians claim exist, but never mention exactly who they are.

In any case, this again shows ignorance of Christian beliefs. God is not beholden to the deeds of man. The book of Revelation details signs we are to watch for and Jesus teaches in Matthew 24 that we are to "keep watch," but note that he doesn't ever teach "Do things to speed my return." We cannot speed up, slow down or even stop the return of Christ by any means. It will happen when God wants it to happen and not a moment before or after.

For more coverage of these and other falsehoods about the game, I highly recommend this post on CADRE Comments for links to the blog's author's series on the issue.

UPDATE: Troy A. Lyndon, CEO of Left Behind Games Inc., has responded to the falsehoods:
There is a lot of misinformation being spread about LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces.

This has been written to respond to media reporters who, in most cases, haven’t played our game. They are not credible. Here’s what real experts are saying:

- The Anti-Defamation League: Although they speak out against the book’s theology, this is what they have to say about the PC game, “Conversion to Christianity in the game is not depicted as forcible in nature, and violence is not rewarded in the game.” http://www.adl.org/Interfaith/leftbehind.asp

- IGN says, "To keep the balance of power in your favor, you'll have to find non-violent ways to avoid getting killed. Your units will definitely fight back in a life or death situation but, for the most part, you want to either avoid your enemies or have a ready plan to convert to your side using musicians and disciples. This gets much harder as the game progresses.” http://pc.ign.com/articles/745/745956p1.html

- Wired Magazine says, “So the great surprise of LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces is that it actually kind of rocks...few titles are as ambitious and as polished as this title.” http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,72071-0.html

- ArsTechnica.com says, “Many groups have made inaccurate statements about this game that need to be corrected. For one thing, it is not particularly violent. While there are violent aspects of the game, the game makes it clear that shooting is the last resort. Second, it is not hateful to other religions. It does have an agenda, and I think you need to know that going in, but there's no bashing of other faiths.” and “…the game is fun, it'll keep parents happy with its light levels of violence, and it'll be sold at video game stores, religious book stores, and everywhere else people spend money on God. This game will certainly get the message out.” http://arstechnica.com/reviews/games/leftbehind.ars

The ADL - hardly a friend of the evangelical right - has denied the claims of the game's detractors. Can't get much better than that, can you?

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Remembering Challenger

Explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger
Address to the Nation, January 28, 1986

by President Ronald W. Reagan

Ladies and gentlemen, I'd planned to speak to you tonight to report on the state of the Union, but the events of earlier today have led me to change those plans. Today is a day for mourning and remembering.

Nancy and I are pained to the core by the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss.

Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, we lost three astronauts in a terrible accident on the ground. But we've never lost an astronaut in flight; we've never had a tragedy like this. And perhaps we've forgotten the courage it took for the crew of the shuttle; but they, the Challenger Seven, were aware of the dangers, but overcame them and did their jobs brilliantly. We mourn seven heroes: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe. We mourn their loss as a nation together.

For the families of the seven, we cannot bear, as you do, the full impact of this tragedy. But we feel the loss, and we're thinking about you so very much. Your loved ones were daring and brave, and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says, "Give me a challenge and I'll meet it with joy." They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths. They wished to serve, and they did. They served all of us.

We've grown used to wonders in this century. It's hard to dazzle us. But for 25 years the United States space program has been doing just that. We've grown used to the idea of space, and perhaps we forget that we've only just begun. We're still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers.

And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle's takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It's all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It's all part of taking a chance and expanding man's horizons. The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them.

I've always had great faith in and respect for our space program, and what happened today does nothing to diminish it. We don't hide our space program. We don't keep secrets and cover things up. We do it all up front and in public. That's the way freedom is, and we wouldn't change it for a minute.

We'll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and, yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here; our hopes and our journeys continue.

I want to add that I wish I could talk to every man and woman who works for NASA or who worked on this mission and tell them: "Your dedication and professionalism have moved and impressed us for decades. And we know of your anguish. We share it."

There's a coincidence today. On this day 390 years ago, the great explorer Sir Francis Drake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama. In his lifetime the great frontiers were the oceans, and an historian later said, "He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it." Well, today we can say of the Challenger crew: Their dedication was, like Drake's, complete.

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God."

Friday, January 26, 2007

40 years ago today


Friday, January 19, 2007

Wisconsin company insults U.S. soldiers

Found on Snopes:
Below is an email exchange between a friend of mine's husband and a company that sells different types of mats. He is stationed in Iraq and was inquiring as to whether or not the company ships overseas. He wanted to get the troops better gear to sleep on. This is the companies response. I am floored. I am floored as a military wife and as an American. Please repost this so that this company will hear us loud and clear that we do not stand for this. Whatever your view is on this war - these troops are just following orders. Most are passionate about what they are doing. You can disagree with the war without disrespecting our troops.

From: SGT Jason Hess
Sent: Tue Jan 16 3:25

Do you ship to APO addresses? I'm in the 1st Cavalry Division stationed in Iraq and we are trying to order some mats but we are looking for who ships to APO first.


From: [email protected]
Sent: Tuesday, January 16, 2007 9:44 PM
Subject: Re: Feedback: from discount-mats.com

SGT Hess,
We do not ship to APO addresses, and even if we did, we would NEVER ship to Iraq. If you were sensible, you and your troops would pull out of Iraq.

Bargain Suppliers


Discount Mats didn't respond to our inquiry, but Sgt. Hess wrote back to us and confirmed that the correspondence was real:

This is all fact and true what happened. I'm with the 1st BCT 1st Cavalry Division in Iraq just trying to find someone to send supplies that we needed.

Yep, those liberals. They really support our troops, don't they?

Let Discount Mats know what you think here.

UPDATE: Discount Mats has had to take their website down due to a deluge of angry emails. Unfortunately, some of those messages included death threats. Death threats don't accomplish anything, folks, except to scare people and get you in trouble for sending them. There are better ways of expressing outrage.

Meanwhile, our old friend Shannon commented, "There is nothing in the article that says Discount Mats is a liberal-run business." Yeah, you're right, Shannon. If it walks and quacks like a duck, it might just be a moose.

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We must be doing something right

One of the girls who works at the daycare my kids go to a few times per week remarked yesterday that my daughter is the only girl who is always happy when there. You really couldn't ask for a nicer compliment for her or us.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Religious Freedom Day, 2007

A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

On Religious Freedom Day, we commemorate the passage of the 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, authored by Thomas Jefferson, and we celebrate the First Amendment's protection of religious freedom.

Across the centuries, people have come to America seeking to worship the Almighty freely. Today, our citizens profess many different faiths, and we welcome every religion. Yet people in many countries live without the freedom to worship as they choose and some face persecution for their beliefs. My Administration is working with our friends and allies around the globe to advance common values and spread the blessings of liberty to every corner of the world. Freedom is a gift from the Almighty, written in the heart and soul of every man, woman, and child, and we must continue to promote the importance of religious freedom at home and abroad.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 16, 2007, as Religious Freedom Day. I call on all Americans to reflect on the great blessing of religious liberty, endeavor to preserve this freedom for future generations, and commemorate this day with appropriate events and activities in their schools, places of worship, neighborhoods, and homes.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eleventh day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first.



[h/t Suzanne]

Friday, January 05, 2007

Latest on Dr. D. James Kennedy

From the Coral Ridge website:
Update on Dr. Kennedy’s Health – Thursday, January 4, From Brian Fisher, Executive Vice President,
Coral Ridge Ministries

We are grateful for the many expressions of concern that have been made on behalf of Dr. D. James Kennedy.

On Thursday, December 28, Dr. Kennedy suffered heart arrhythmia leading to cardiac arrest. He was given CPR and admitted to the hospital. He has since improved. On Wednesday, January 3 he underwent a procedure to implant a pacemaker/defibrillator and continues to make progress.

We are so thankful for your prayers and encouragement! Please continue to intercede on his behalf for a complete recovery and for his return to his normal ministry duties.

—Brian E. Fisher, Executive Vice President, Coral Ridge Ministries

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At what point do you think the Pelosi-led Democrats' "first 100 hours" (in which they will be ignoring that promise of bi-partisanship they made not hours ago) will become the "first 100 days?" I'm guessing right about the first time President Bush vetoes a bill they pass.

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Pro-life students fight for free speech

Pro-life students sue schools over censorship
Approximately 1,400 middle school and high schools participated in the national pro-life day of silence. Many passed out leaflets between classes, wore pro-life t-shirts and duct tape over their mouths with the word "Life" written on it.

But the peaceful observation left a sour taste in the mouth of some administrators and several students are paying the price for being so "controversial."

I have little doubt that had this been the homosexuals' "Day of Silence," the school administrators wouldn't have had a single problem with it.

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I take comfort...

...in the fact that even though the Democrats control Congress, they don't have a large enough majority to rescue their garbage bills when President Bush vetoes them.

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

2006 was pretty good here by the grace of God.

2007 hopefully will be better by that same grace.

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