Sunday, March 31, 2002

Okay, I think I screwed up my archives. Is there any way to get more than one section of them?

Quote of the Day:
"I find it impossible to dismiss the existence of God when faced with the beauty of the outdoors."
-Christian Braunlich

Matthew Edgar delves into theology from a heathen perspective. I responded in the comments section. It's a good essay, though I of course disagree with it. After all, what would the world be without the free will to disagree?

Oh, and he also earned himself a permalink in the Heathens and/or Liberals section.

I'm reading Peter Kreeft's and Barry Leventhal's essays on the divinity of Christ in the book Why I Am a Christian, and I suspect that portions of Theological Foray #7 may be recanted before long. Oops.

A Brief Note on Punctuation:

As an (currently, at least) English major, I feel it my duty to contribute something worthy to the world. Thus, I propose to teach how to properly punctuate words with an apostrophe at the end.

For example:
My friend's name is Mark Jones. Mark Jones' wife's name is Ellen. The Joneses invited me over for dinner one night. Under the table was the Joneses' dog Yappy, hoping for scraps.

Jones is Mark's last name.
Jones' refers to something that belongs to Mark or is characteristic of him. It could also be written Jones's, though that's a little clunky for my taste.
Joneses refers to more than one person named Jones. Usually, if the people related, you say "The Joneses" or "Mark and Ellen Jones," while if they're not, you would say "Mark Jones and Eric Jones."
Joneses' refers to something that belongs to the Jones family or is characteristic of them. Again, you could write it Joneses's, but that looks a little silly.

Sorry if I was a little pedantic, I just get tired of seeing these mistakes all the time.

Semi-Blasphemous Idea:
Make a movie about the Old Testament, and call it God.
Then make the sequel, and it could be Son of God.

I suppose if you were Mormon, you could also have Return of Son of God, but now I'm just getting silly.

Well, firstly, Happy Easter! Christ not only has risen, but also is risen!

It also occurred to me how great the blogging world is. Where else could I read great essays on theology from Catholics, Protestants, and heathens non-Christians of all stripes? Seriously, we've got everyone from college students to college professors, from computer dweebs to the most Luddite of computer users. At least half of the blogs I read have at one point or another posted a serious, thoughtful discussion of their philosophy of religion (or non-religion). Honestly, what I think would be great would be if we could all put our thoughts on one site and (I'm seriously dreaming here) have it edited one day. I have no illusions about a bestseller, but I'd absolutely love to have some of our thoughts assembled into a small book. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, March 30, 2002

I'll admit that I'm running low on spontaneous ideas for Theological Forays (I'm working on the Problem of Evil, but it's a doozy). If you have a topic you'd like me to address, please let me know! The Problem of Evil may not be up until August, so I'm going to need some stuff to tide me over until then. I'll still post as things come to me, but I'm having less time to read while I work on my schoolwork.

Go check out Justin Slotman's collection of Blogosphere posts on Israel. Incidentally, wouldn't Justin Slotman be an excellent name for a male porn star?

Theological Foray #7: What's the Deal with Christ?

Today is Holy Saturday, and is thus a very good time to address the question of why it was necessary for Christ to die, or even exist in the first place. Now, I don't presume to tell you exactly What It All Means. In the words of Ben Domenech, that would be unspeakably arrogant. However, the idea of Christ is, ironically enough, the part of the whole Christian thing with which I have the most trouble. I know it's central to all Catholic doctrines (as distinguished from Arian and Gnostic doctrines, for instance), but it's been very hard for me to understand. I'll try to start with basic ideas and try and build them together into some sort of free-standing structure (and I'll also try to keep the mixing of metaphors to a minimum).

Hardly anyone disagrees that Jesus Christ was a good moral teacher. There may be disagreements about certain practices, but overall, he's well-respected. Unfortunately for simplicity, that's not all there is. C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity asks how we can accept the teachings of a man who claims to be God if we deny his divinity. After all, while a loon may speak truth, he's usually pretty unreliable.

Perhaps the best way to go from here would be to examine Jesus' teachings, and see how radically different they were from contemporary Jewish teachings. If there's a historical basis in Jewish theology for them, and the modifications remain in the "spirit of the law," then we can at least establish that his teachings themselves were sound, even if we believe him not to be. Passages of prophecy will not be addressed here, only actual teachings. In Matthew 4:4-11, Jesus resists temptation by following Hebrew scripture, not deviating at all. In Matt. 5-7, though, we see him commenting on Jewish law in the beatitudes. In Matt. 5:17, Jesus says "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill." From this, we can gather that Christ did not want to nullify everything the Jews had already known, but to show that what had come before was just the groundwork for the coming Kingdom of God. The laws in the Pentateuch (Torah) had the effect of keeping God's chosen people, the Hebrews, distinguishable from surrounding peoples. Similarly, we see in the beatitudes a way of keeping God's people morally separate from others. They all had the purpose of emphasizing the importance of loving your neighbor, and thus loving God. This is fully in line with Jewish teachings, and so we can conclude that Jesus' teachings were beyond reproof.

Next, we must look at statements of divinity. Jesus Christ's self-referential claims of being the "Son of Man" and "Son of God" do not in themselves prove anything. All humans (except possibly Adam) are the "Son of Man." The title "Son of God" is similarly not definitive, as Hebrew kings were anointed "Son of God" upon their coronation. Furthermore, in Genesis 6:1-4, we learn that the "sons of God" came down, bred with humans, and produced the Nephilim. In Matthew 5:9, Jesus says "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." In Luke 20:36, we are told that those who will be resurrected will be "sons of God." However, while not definitive, they are helpful. As shown by Matthew 4:3, 4:6, 8:29, 14:33, 26:63, 27:40, 27:43, 27:54, and Mark 3:11, it wasn't expected that one would actually be the Son of God. Jesus' miracles and the miracles his disciples worked while acting faithfully were tokens that they were sons of God. I think what it comes down to is that I'm not sure Christ is the same thing as God.

It seems to me that Jesus Christ was a prophet and messiah. Many say that Christ was God in the flesh, and thus God met us half-way by learning what it was like to be a man. I don't discount that, but I think it's more likely that he was a divinely inspired and guided man, and that it was as if he never had need of spiritual resurrection, and was thus made like God at his baptism. He was sinless, and thus was a perfect example for those seeking to love God. By being crucified, he rendered to Caesar what was Caesar's, while remaining faithful to God. By emulating him, we too can become sons of God through grace.

Of course, I'm still turning all this over, so it's quite possible this Foray will need to be significantly revised.

Friday, March 29, 2002

Read Ben Domenech's post on Good Friday. He can write. If he's not famous by the time I'm 30, I'm a liberal.

Well, this has been happening today. I'd prefer that they not kill Arafat, and that he'd simply go away, but I can understand that it might happen.

All I can say is: finally.

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve,
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things,
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy,
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men,
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life,
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing I asked for --
But everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

-Found on the body of an anonymous teenaged Confederate soldier

Thursday, March 28, 2002

I know it's Thursday, but here's your Wednesday Poetry, dedicated to the people of Israel:

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

-John McCrae

Someone give James Lileks a column. Do you not want readers or something?

Quote of the Day:
"Hie ye hence from ma heath! What, dunnae ye spake English?"
-Groundskeeper Willie

VodkaPundit has a nice post about the situation in Israel.

Meanwhile, the campus rag here ran a cartoon today that first appeared in the Sacramento Bee last Tuesday. Disgusting.

I know I have a very small voice in the blogging community, but I think it's time we bring Israel back to the forefront of American politics. If enough of us do it, then perhaps we can actually make a difference. Today begins Passover. Every day until Easter, I will post about why the Israelis are right and the Palestinians are a bunch of whining, vicious animals. I'd appreciate any company I can get. Balloon Juice and VodkaPundit have already been doing this, and I'm proud to join with them.

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

In my weekly meeting for my upcoming trip to London (May 19 to mid-August), we were warned "not to dress like Americans." I asked the professor how Europeans dress, and he said he didn't really know, except that they wear slacks and khakis more than blue jeans. If anyone can tell me how the Brits dress, I'd really appreciate it. If it's anything like Dieter on Sprockets, though, count me out.

UPDATE: After looking at Oxford's Virtual Tour, I've come to the conclusion that the Britons dress like they did in the 1980s, judging by the pictures I've seen of my dad. Plain, bold colors and rugby shirts appear to predominate. I'm thinking my Hawaiian shirt would look out of place.

Well, apparently I'm going to die at age 93, on Monday December 24, 2074 at 12:38:50 PM.

Of course, there is some room for disagreement, since it's also believed that I'll die on February 15, 2054 at the age of 71, probably of cancer, but possibly of a horrible accident or confusion.

Well, well, well...Ben's revealed his true self as a capitalist. Go check him out (even though his site lacks wang). I regret that I cannot purchase the Augustinian Wonder Boy shirt, since I must remain loyal to Aquinas. Incidentally, what is that? Aquinan? Aquinasian? Aquainist? Aquaman? Aquarian?

A Dog's Life has a very nice post about atheism and abortion. I don't think I've ever met a pro-life atheist, and I do wonder if there's a connection (if there is, I've never heard it acknowledged).

Quote of the Day:
"Stop! We have reached the limits of what rectal probing can teach us." -Kodos and Kang

This is a call...

Is anyone out there going to the Virginia College Republican Convention on April 6th in Virginia Beach?

List of Warners That Suck (so far):
Governor Mark Warner: I voted against you twice, you Connecticut carpetbagger. Run as a conservative, will you?
Senator John Warner: Real Republicans don't vote for Campaign Finance Reform, Partial-Birth Abortion, and letting Clinton off the hook. I mean, you're only good on economics and the military, and even Chuck Robb was good for the military! I never thought I'd see a Virginia RINO.
AOL Time-Warner: Actually, they haven't done anything to annoy me. Then again, the complaining of people who are upset with them is getting to me...

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Well, apparently members of a JMU choir and my very own Marching Virginians are getting screwed. I'm glad I didn't put down money for this, but I know several people who did. This sucks.

USS Clueless has so much good stuff about Israel and the Middle East that I'm just going to give you a generic link, and tell you to find the individual posts yourself. And if you happen to read something else he's written, consider yourself to have received a quality free education.

Personally, I am literally 100% behind Israel. Let's take the facts, and we'll see what we see:
1. The Palestinians never had their own country, generally referred to themselves as "Southern Syrians," and didn't mind a potential state of Israel until they realized that the Zionists were a lot more advanced and wealthy than they were.
2. The British controlled what is now Israel and Jordan until their independence, and allowed Jews to settle in what was then called Palestine.
3. Upon declaring independence, Israel was invaded by seven neighboring Arab countries in order to destroy it.
4. In this first invasion, the Israeli Palestinians were warned by the coming armies to leave, and they could return when Israel was destroyed. Most did, leaving their countrymen to be butchered.
5. Palestinians are despised by other Arabs, who don't seem especially willing to let them settle in their countries.
6. Arab nations have consistently attacked and instigated intifada against Israel, including attacking on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.
7. The Palestinians have consistently rejected plans to give them their own lands, and want to drive the Jews into the sea.

Are we starting to see a pattern here?

I honestly think the Israelis have the right to expel every single Palestinian from their country and threaten to nuke Mecca and Medina if their sovereignty is violated again. The Palestianians aren't serious about peace.

Brilliant idea: Give the Palestinians Saudi Arabia!

Now, I don't want it to sound like I'm Catholic-bashing. The Roman Catholic Church has been one of the greatest agents for good in the past 2000 years. It gets unfairly singled out for its lapses (far fewer than most other ideologies or groups), and is one of very few to ever actually apologize. Irish monks brought Christianity back to a de-Romanized Europe, and Spanish and Jesuit missionaries spread the gospel throughout the world (they get a bad rap, though). While I disagree with Catholics on many details, as a whole, they've got the right idea. Finally, let me recommend the movie The Shoes of the Fisherman, a movie all Catholics and Protestants should see.

Well, Mark Byron got the ball rolling with his unfortunately-titled "Catholics and Christians" post, and things are heating up. Relapsed Catholic seems to have the best take on it. I'm not saying that the Roman Catholic church is morally corrupt. It's just that their clergy appears to have been infiltrated by perverts and their EFTA enablers. I may not agree with the Catholics on several doctrinal points, but they're still Christians, and have my sympathy.

However, that's not enough to prevent me from my polemics. I do disagree with the RCC on several issues, most notably praying to saints, mariology/-latry, and the priesthood. On the first charge, why not pray directly to God? Having a patron saints of particular causes sounds an awful lot like covert polytheism to me. As a Protestant, my understanding of what happens when we die is that we go to sheol/purgatory, and wait until Judgement Day (not the movie), with the faithful being resurrected. Now, some of the dead must obviously be in Heaven already, as evidenced by Mark 9, but it still seems to me that it's silly to pray to an intermediary when you can pray to Eloi/Adonai/YHWH/El Shaddai/I Am/Lord of Hosts/God himself.

As for Mary, I don't see much about her to merit her lofty status. Yes, it was a blessing to give birth to the Christ. And yes, she did show great faith. However, my only recollection of Mary after that is trying to talk to Jesus, and being told that his followers were his true "mother and brothers." Christ didn't seem to hold her in especially high regard. Peter, James, and John seem to have been closest to Jesus, and yet they're not considered co-redemptors. Heck, we hardly ever even hear about James, though Peter did get to go on to be Pope and John was the only apostle not martyred. As for the notion of Mary also being of immaculate conception, I'm not sure where this came from. The closest I can figure is that in order to conceive immaculately, she must also have been immaculately conceived. Of course, one must ask "What about Mary's mother? Why could she do it, but not Mary?" Personally, I think her status came about from a mingling of medieval church and romances, with Mary being seen as the ultimate in a fitting ideal of adoration. The rosary, which I've been told is like giving a rose to Mary, seems to confirm this to me. I also don't think that Mary was sinless, and she obviously didn't remain a virgin, since she had other children.

Finally, the priesthood. I can't really find any examples of Christian priests, besides Christ himself. There are plenty of ministers, and church officers (deacons and deaconesses), but no priests as Catholicism seems to understand them. I also don't know of the basis for allowing Popes to be any more infallible than anyone else. It was Peter himself who was granted authority, not his role. The whole "Thou art Peter" doctrine just seems to lack evidence for me.

I think that what happened was that the Catholic church used a lot of allusion and metaphor in early practice, but later forgot that they were only using a familiar proxy to describe the real thing, and began regarding the teaching tools as the Truth. Catholics often accuse Protestants of being too literal in their reading of the Bible, but it seems to me that the Catholics themselves are too literal themselves and misunderstand their own teachings.

Monday, March 25, 2002

Why I'm Not a...well, whatever it is I'm not.

I don't drink. I don't smoke. I don't do drugs. I try not to swear. I don't screw. I'm a Christian. I'm an economic and social conservative. I try not to break the law. I greatly respect the military.

I don't drink or do drugs because, well, they're illegal. To me, if you willingly break the law, then you're a hypocrite if you ever try and use the law to protect yourself or your interests. Now, there's room for "youthful indiscretions" and the like, but the idea is that you need to grow out of those before you can claim protection. Being young isn't an excuse, either, if you know that what you're doing is wrong and just figure that you'll regret it later. While I'm in England this summer, I'll do some drinking, since they're legal age is 18. I suppose if I was in Amsterdam, I might consider smoking up, though of course I'd have to be mindful of the fact that many employers ask "have you ever done marijuana?" regardless of whether it was legal or not.

I don't smoke because, well, I don't. No moral stance here, just a personal decision. If other people want to smoke, they have my full support so long as they don't interfere too much with the quality of the air I personally breathe. On the other hand, I think that just dropping butts is littering. If you're going to smoke, you need to throw away your trash, not leave it to fester on the ground. The government needs to stop screwing with the tobacco companies. I agree that cigarettes shouldn't be sold to minors, but I think the companies have the right to develop a "brand loyalty" with youths so long as they don't sell to them. If they were smart, you'd have Marlborough making not only tobacco, but also something like jeans or sunglasses so as to piggyback the cigarettes on the more palatable items. Virginia famers growing tobacco are hurt by these regulations, and these heavy taxes are a burden. If you're going to try and de facto outlaw tobacco, then you need to subsidize a crop transition with the taxes being pulled in from cigarettes.

I try not to swear because I'm a Christian and because I just think it's rude, especially in mixed company. My ears almost literally hurt and my heart breaks when I hear otherwise attractive girls dropping the F-bomb like they're pilots in Linebacker II. It's not that the words aren't descriptive, but that decorum states that you should avoid them. If you need to punctuate your speech with words to give you time to think and express, just find something else to say. You of course have the right to free speech, but other people have the right to think you're a jerk or of otherwise inferior quality and react accordingly.

I don't have sex because I think we're meant to wait until marriage. Of course I'm bound to this by my Christian beliefs, but I also see plenty of secular reasons. First, we would eliminate virtually all venereal diseases in just about a generation. Think about it: the permanent cure for AIDS and the like is for just one generation to be monogamous. I also think women are getting taken advantage of. Women aren't as strong as men, but they can exercise complete control by simply denying themselves to their would-be lovers. By giving in, they've lost their most effective bargaining tool. As for me, I would be very hesitant to marry someone who wasn't a virgin. If both of you wait until marriage, it's literally incomparable. Furthermore, by being the only source of sex for each other, you've got a safety net that might save a marriage that is otherwise unworkable. I'm not saying that sex is a basis for a relationship, but that it might be that one little thing which tides you over until you can reconcile.

I'm packin' heat. That's right, I bought an air pistol. However, not just any air pistol. It's a Powerline Airstrike 240, which is in trouble for looking too much like a Beretta 9mm. Most of my hallmates are equipped, and we've been popping each other with plastic pellets. On Friday, we went to a friend's apartment and had a mini-war. We all wore goggles, but the rule was that you had to be wearing short sleeves. My team, sadly, lost every round, though I did get the flag several times. A few days ago, one of my hallmates almost accidentally shot a cop walking down our hall (!). Luckily, the cop was fairly cool about it, though he and the other guys with him got a lecture. Still...there's a sense of power in having a Weapon of Mass Destruction.

Saturday, March 23, 2002

Original content will return tomorrow Monday. Really.

Quote of the Day:
"Your guilty conscience may force you to vote Democratic, but deep down inside you secretly long for cold-hearted Republicans to lower taxes, brutalize criminals and rule you like a king!"
-Sideshow Bob

Friday, March 22, 2002

Oh my gosh. Laying awake at night, it just occurred to me how much stuff I'm trying to do at once. There's HokiePundit, CampusNonsense, College Republicans, debating on the Freethinker Listserv here at Tech, band (and the hours of practicing that go with it), church, Citizens for Correll, a huge reading list, a 16-page paper on Gun Control, a 17-page paper on the European Union, another 17-page paper on Scottish Devolution, and sundry preparations for tests. I'm going to have to cut back. I think I'll go stealth on the Freethinkers, limit myself to one post per week on CampusNonsense, and put off a few of the books on my list for now. There might also be an increase in the ratio of Link+Comment+Quote posts on HokiePundit to essays and Theological Forays for a while.

Blogland Word of the Day:
A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by
repeated action from one mind to another.

Perhaps I'm the only one to appreciate the sublime irony of it all.

Well, apparently Sen. John Warner (R-VA) voted for Campaign Finance Reform. Despite being a member of the College Republicans, I'm not sure that I'll vote for him in the upcoming election. First he votes not to remove Clinton, now this. Wobbly.

UPDATE: He also apparently voted to allow partial-birth abortions. That settles it.

Via the inestimable Dave Tepper, Wednesday is Poetry Posting Day. I'm late, of course, but I'm sure I can come up with a rash of excuses if pressed. Below, my submission.
-e.e. cummings, |(a

According to Hawksblog, Arcata, CA is all mallardy. Yes, I made that word up. To complete the Link + Quote + Comment equation (actually, come to think of it, that's not an equation...), read the following for thyself, and make sure you're not drinking milk (or at least have your nose plugged):

The city is officially a nuke-free zone, so note to Al Qaeda, if you have a nuke, don’t you dare set it off in Arcata. Don’t even bring it into the city limits – you’d be violating a Municipal Ordinance with your nuclear ordinance."

For more college shenanigans, head on over to USS Clueless and check out Cap'n Steve's error-filled denunciation. Must fix that spell-checker...

For today's Rotatingly Titled Links, I've "borrowed" from VodkaPundit. Enjoy, and let's all hope HokiePundit isn't sued for plagiarism (though I don't think you can copyright titles).

Thursday, March 21, 2002

Misheard Lyrics of the Day:
Yo no soy medico, no soy chapusero,
Solamente soy pobre, y ya estoy tan solo
(I'm not a doctor, I'm not a joker, only a poor man, and now I'm so alone)

I thought it was:
Yo no soy medico, no soy chapusero,
Solamente soy pobre, y ya estoy Han Solo
(I'm not a doctor, I'm not a joker, only a poor man, and now I'm Han Solo)

-Sublime, Chica mi Tipo
Maybe not funny to you, but I'm the one who counts in this case.

I've been invited to post at CampusNonsense! Apparently, there's some trouble getting me registered right now, so it'll be a while before Bauer Power hits the Big Time.

It occurs to me that if I were to post as Robert Bauer instead of HokiePundit (Virginia Tech), I would move myself up significantly in the Google ratings. I'll have to ponder that one.

There's a certain time in a pundit's life when he finally becomes a man. This is one such moment. In an unsurprising come-from-behind victory, HokiePundit is now ranked #1 on Yahoo! for "Stupid Hokie Tradition." Break out the sparkling champagne!

You know, I sometimes get sick of all this activism. Currently, the kick is "Take Back the Night" here in Blacksburg. For those who don't know, this is when the sociology, women's studies, and environmental policy and planning majors on campus get together to protest rape. They put stuff all over campus stating their views and generally implying that all men are rapists (or at least wannabe-rapists). Usually, they chalk inane statements like "Men, you CAN stop rape!" and "No means NO!" on sidewalks, for those of us who don't think we can stop ourselves from raping (and pillaging!) or who benefit from being told that a word means what it means. They put up some t-shirt project every year, with different-colored shirts representing what happened to the person who wrote on them, generally with the darker the shirt, the worse the situation. I go and look at that, and I see an awful lot of yellow shirts, and very few red or purple ones. I think the thing which most annoys me is the vandalism. I was walking into Hokie Grill for lunch today, and someone had spray-painted "consent is SEXY" on the ground. First, this is a very stupid statement, unlikely to sway anyone. Secondly, it means the groundskeepers are going to have to put in a lot of work to remove that from the sidewalk. It's selfish, is what it is. I'm sure that these are the same people who, ironically enough, want to Save the Planet and who want to Empower the Proletariat. They make me sick.

UPDATE: Apparently, I was going off poor vision and bad information (the Iron Line of politics). I only saw one or two white shirts, which represent women who've died of violence. The color I saw most of was yellow/beige, which represents women who've been battered or assaulted. There are more colors representing other things like incest, sexual assault, and homophobia, but I'll just say that they were all fairly represented. What got to me wasn't that there were so many shirts, but that there were so few. Over ten years, they'd accumulated about 300 shirts. That's only about 30 per year, of all kinds of assault (which is simply the threat of violence). Of course this isn't what it should be, and I'm sure there are plenty of cases that weren't reported or put on shirts, but I was still underwhelmed.

From my US Government test today:
Which of the following is TRUE about the news media?
1. Journalists tend to have a liberal bias in their reporting.
2. Journalists tend to be subjective in their reporting.
3. Journalists tend to be negative.
4. None of the above.

Unfortunately, I sold out. I'm not so principled that losing 2 points on a test is unimportant to me. I put #3. I am shamed.

I'm sorry I didn't post more today, but my friend Tess is sick and in the hospital with tonsilitis and mono right now, and so I visited her today for a few hours. Her boyfriend has been missing class since Thursday to take care of her, and so I figured it would be good to spell him for at least a bit. They give you all kinds of drugs there! She got codeine, morphine, percocet, and steroids, plus the obligatory antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. I asked her to save some of the percocet for me.

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

It seems to me that we can never truly prove anything, if we refuse to acknowledge personal opinion as a valid input from which to form our opinions. On the Freethinker listserv with which I'm involved, I'm constantly told that personal revelation is neither a proof nor even an indication of the existence of God (Apparently, personal divine revelation is inacceptable as a source, yet I'm often told by the very same people that p.ersonal divine revelation would be the only way God could conclusively prove his existence. But that's not important right now). Thus, if we are to discount personal opinion, all we have left is scientific fact to judge from. And yet...what we call fact is merely our interpretation of what we believe to be the case. In science, a law is a theory which has worked every time it's been observed, but which is immediately null (or at least subject to revision) the first time something violates the theory. The idea that nothing is absolute and that everything is in flux is not helpful in finding the Truth; not least because it would seem to preclude a Truth in the first place. If our "gut" feeling is so unacceptable, then all we're left with is a bunch of tendencies, which are subject to revision at any point. Thus, we must acknowledge that at least some amount of personal input is required.

more to come...

Expect a Theological Foray on either theodicy or the origin of God (perhaps I can tie them together) later this evening.

I know I'm not an economist or farmer, but it seems to me that we could save ourselves some money while helping the third world. Now, poor countries at subsistence levels of farming experience famine when there's a drought. At the same time, the US government pays domestic farmers to not grow crops, in that it would lower the price of, say, corn due to the abundance. Instead of giving foreign aid to these poor countries and subsidizing our farms, why not declare that those farms which formerly were to lie fallow will now be permitted to only grow corn for foreign export? Alternatively, we could say that all farmers will be given a subsidy, and that all farms must actually grow things. Thus, instead of giving money to kleptocracies, we give them food that we have in abundance. I'm sure that they could sell that food, but it wouldn't bring in as much money, and it would mean that at least someone would get the food. I welcome all criticisms of this plan, but it seems dumb to me to pay foreigners to work on growing things while paying our people to not grow similar crops.

I try to visit all the sites I get hits from (partially out of ego, of course). It's weird when you look and find no mention of yourself on that page at all, and yet somehow someone clicked through to you. Personally, I'm baffled. Then again, I know about as much about computers as I do about playing cricket.

Well, Blogger was down for a while, so you didn't get your normal dose of brilliant commentary from me yesterday. Maybe later today.

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

I am not making this up. The following item appeared in the Collegiate Times today:
In the Tuesday, Feb. 19 edition of the Collegiate Times, the article "Fraternity rated first by Playboy" was written based on false information provided by the fraternity. The Collegiate Times regrets this error."

The CT won't rename the frat who pulled this off, but I will.
Advantage: Sigma Alpha Epsilon!

Announcements! Firstly, the links category of "Awaiting Orders" for people I haven't been able to fully classify will now have a rotating name, chosen from among other blogs. The first such change shall be to "Creamy Nougat," from the Sarges' site (yes, that apostrophe is in the right place). Next, I've created a new links category; "Ferners." As we all know, ferners are people not from 'round here. They're from over yonda. Anyway, I've noticed that No Watermelons Allowed and Pundit 21 have been kind enough to link to me. For now, they'll go in the Name Rotation Links Section. When I think of a clever acronym, I'll call it that.

Seriously, I'm just about to stop blogrolling and actually provide original content. Really.

UPDATE: "Creamy Nougat" isn't a category on the Sarges' page. It doesn't really make sense, either, so I shouldn've known. Disadvantage: HokiePundit!

Cool! Someone bought the ad off my site! I would've noticed earlier, but I try not to go to my own site, so as not to screw with my counters. If you're the kind soul who did this, please let me know; you deserve a link at the very least (and probably a crumpet, too).

Well, well! The good neighbours over at Libertarian Samizdata have been kind enough to put me on their links page! Probably because I owe Natalie Solent a crumpet, and they need to keep track of me. When I'm in London this summer, she shall have this pastry thing or whatever it is.

Monday, March 18, 2002

Um. Reading through the Derb's latest column, what to my wondering eyes should appear in the eighth paragraph, but "Her breasts are particularly fine." Now, this may be true. However, the National Review isn't a place where one might normally expect to see such things. First it was digitalized prehistoric animal penises, now this. The media has warped my fragile little mind.

Sunday, March 17, 2002

Ironically enough, HokiePundit is only #3 on Yahoo! for "Stupid Hokie Tradition." Again, I now have a goal.

Equivalency of the Day: The proper term for "heathen" is now "differently-godded" (via some heathen). Do you think they'll make special parking spaces for these people, just in case the rapture comes and the parking lot is full of careening vehicles?

Louder Fenn leaps boldly into the breach today on the question of theodicy. He's even brave enough to bring up the Holocaust, so give him a hit or two!

I've added the new category of Heathens and/or Liberals. These people who are either atheist/agnostic or leftist. They'll be first against the wall when my revolution comes. For now, though, they put out pretty good blogs.

Mark Byron was kind enough to a question I asked of him. All I can say is that I'm glad there are talented theologians (amateur or professional) like him, and that his contributions make discussion that much easier.

Saturday, March 16, 2002

Inspired by Ken Layne's revelation, I Googled myself (man, that sounds dirty). In any case, I am pleased to announce that I am apparently the 59th most important Robert Bauer in the world. One rung at a time...

Wow. (via William Sulik)

I would be remiss in not mentioning the Problem of Evil posts by Junk Yard Blog and William Sulik. All I can say is that they're a lot smarter than I am.

I'm not sure what to think. I just flipped to the Discovery Channel, and they had some computerized prehistoric animals (Andrichothyrs? I haven't a clue how to spell it), um, making new computerized prehistoric animals. Among other things, they actually showed the, uh, computerized prehistoric Washington Monument of the male. I think I'm scarred for life.

Theological Foray #6: The Omnipotent God

One of the things that most irritates me is when people deliberately use semantics to avoid facing the real question. One of the best examples of these is the "If God is all-powerful, could he make a rock so big he couldn't lift it?" In a question where you lose no matter if you answer yes or no, you must debunk the question. I would say that there are some things that can't be created. Is it because God is limited? No. God couldn't create a stone too big for him to lift because he is all-powerfuln and thus nothing beyond him (to quote from Star Wars, "size matters not"). Similarly, God couldn't just create humans who loved him unconditionally. To do so would defeat the purpose, since there's no joy in the assured. Is God cruel for doing this, knowing that some people will be unable to be saved? No. The Bible says that even Satan is salvageable, and he's far worse than any humans. Thus, everyone has a chance. I don't think that fully answers the Problem of Evil, but it's a start.

Dave Tepper called me on my post on Contact, asking if I really thought it was awful. Having seen it again, I need to revise my opinion. I'll declare it subpar for SciFi, but a decent movie overall. I'm not sure how much was from Carl Sagan (the author), and how much was from Jodie Foster (the director/star), but there was the obligatory bashing of evangelical Christians and conservatives in copious amounts. However, the scene at the end where Jodie testifies before the Senate is very different from this, and I'm informed by the DT that this scene wasn't in Sagan's book. Advantage: Jodie Foster (was there ever any doubt?). Mathew McConaughey's character, representing a thoughtful religious viewpoint, is never actually debunked in the movie, which is fairly rare in movies (though the Count of Monte Christo succeeded well in having God's will triumph). I think Sagan was trying to prove that religion was superseded by science, but ended up showing in fact that religion has a valid claim. Here are some quotes from the movie, and you can decide for yourself if they refer to science or religion (especially Christianity):

"I think it's worth a human life, don't you?"

"I believe our goal is one and the same: the pursuit of the truth."

"I wish I could share it. I wish everyone, if only for a moment--could feel that sense of awe, and humility... and hope. That continues to be my wish."

"I had... an experience. I can't prove it. I can't even explain it. All I can tell you is that everything I know as a human being, everything I am -- tells me that it was real. I was given something wonderful. Something that changed me. A vision of the universe that made it overwhelmingly clear just how tiny and insignificant -- and at the same time how rare and precious we all are. A vision... that tells us we belong to something greater than ourselves... that we're not--that none of us--is alone."

I'm considering starting a Blog Watch V. I haven't decided yet, but there are some people not on the other Watches that deserve to be mentioned. Any thoughts?

Mark Byron and friends do an excellent job of answering the "Problem of Evil." In short, the PoE is "How come an omniscient and good God created a world where sin is possible?" I'd been working on an answer to it for a while, but Mark's is far better than what I've come up with so far. I may still post my answer later, in case there's a facet that was left unexplored, but the pressure's definitely off.

The aforementioned Natalie Solent informs me that I owe her some crumpet. I haven't had any since I was in Kindergarten, but I'll have some delivered to her this summer while I'm interning in London.

Also, I highly recommend BraveNet for tracking your visitors (note to Conspiracy Theory types: I just look where you come from, not at your interesting banking habits). HokiePundit: Product Placement with My Ego in Mind(TM)

I've updated the links to Dave Tepper and Kevin Holtsberry, and added ones to Natalie Solent and the Insolvent Republic of Blogistan (I'll agree with the rest of blogdom and declare IROB to be the coolest blog name). I was about to say that I wasn't able to find Mark Buttersworth's URL, which would've been a shame since he's very good. Thanks to the magic of browser cookies, however, he has been found.

Friday, March 15, 2002

I get linked by Natalie Solent, and not only was it bright and sunny outside, but upon coming back I'm too exhausted to take advantage of my unexpected plethora of hits. I'm watching Contact right now, which is awful movie, but has Jodie Foster. For Jodie Foster, even HokiePundit would be willing to take potshots at one of our greatest presidents.

UPDATE: I cringe at the possible repercussions of the above statement.

It's warm and sunny outside, so I'm off to play Ultimate Frisbee for a few hours. Posts will resume when it's colder, darker, and less fun outside.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

Blogger (not Blog*Spot) is really slow right now. Remind me to add Mark Butterworth and update Kevin Holtsberry's URLs when it doesn't take ten minutes to post a message.

Hmm. Two times in a row I've been missed in Blog Watch III. I may need to get my blog resume ready (that, or start Blog Watch V and feature myself).

UPDATE: K-Dogg informs me that I haven't been dumped. Not that I won't start a Blog Watch V some day, though.

An Open Letter to James Lileks:

Dear sir,
The Hokie-Pokie is what it's all about. I invite you to procure tickets to a Virginia Tech football game next season and watch in anticipation and childlike wonder as 330 uniformed maniacs do the Hokie-Pokie at halftime. Perhaps then you will realize that it's not such a bad fate after all (unless you're UVA, *snicker*).

Robert Bauer

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Yes, HokiePundit will now be featuring NAKED CHICKS. Your life is now complete.

In the tradition of some bloggers too filthy to be named, I've decided to add some Cheesecakes to bring in those all-important hits.


Who needs content? HokiePundit: Tastes Great, Less Filling

I'd like to take a moment to talk about MP3s, the RIAA, and the like. Most of what I've heard has been along the lines of "our rights are being infringed!" and "The RIAA are a bunch of crapweasels!" The RIAA may well indeed be evil. However, your rights and the rights of artists are not being infringed by the shutdown of Napster. Music is a product. If you copyright it, it's protected in perpetuity, and owned by you, your heirs, or whoever you sell the rights to. Now, as I understand it, the current situation is as follows: musicians write and/or perform music, and sell it to Sony, Geffen, or whoever. The record companies take these songs and sell them to the public for a fee. Some people don't want to buy the albums, and simply download them off Audiogalaxy, Morpheus, or any number of other similar sites.

Now, it seems to me that we have several things happening. The first is that artists are selling their product, and receiving money in return. As I understand it, they retain the rights to play their songs in public, unless otherwise stipulated. Secondly, record companies are selling their product, and receiving money in return, with the purchaser gaining the right to listen to their purchase and play it in public for noncommercial purposes. Another group of people, deciding that they want both the songs and the money in their pockets, take the songs without paying for them. Am I missing something, or is this what we consider stealing?

The RIAA may well be stupid beyond belief for not giving in to pressure. That is their right. It's their property. Musicians are threatening to release stuff straight to the web, as well. Again, that's their right (so long as they haven't sold it first). However, they shouldn't be surpised when no one buys their albums any more. After all, why buy something when you can get it for free? For the album art and liner notes? Now, I will say that the Canadian government is misguided for putting such a silly tax on things capable of storing MP3s, though once again, within their rights.

To summarize:

Right to sell your compositions: yes

Right to sell purchased compositions: yes

Right to get commercial products without payment: no

Right to tax whatever you feel like: stupid, but probably there

Um, what? A front-page story in today's CT says that the Blacksburg Police Department has bought a PT Cruiser for their DARE program (and presumably for local law enforcement, as well). At first, I thought this was a colossal waste of money. I mean, what's wrong with the ubiquitous Crown Victoria? I sat down to write a screed against the BPD for wasting taxpayer money on what sounded like a pet project. It didn't help that the DARE officer had this to say:

"Since the PT Cruiser's been out, I've been in love with it. Some people asked why I didn't get a Corvette or something like that, but I just like it because it's just a different car."

However, investigative pseudo-journalist that I am, I went and looked up the facts. The Crown Victoria Police Interceptor retails for $23,175, while the basic PT Cruiser sells for around $17,000. On the other hand, the Crown Victoria has things like a 4.6 V-8 engine and rear-wheel drive, compared to the Cruiser's 2.5 V-4 and front-wheel drive. However, if it's going to be used for the DARE program and not to chase down marauding bandits (Blacksburg: Fortress Virginia), we should be okay.

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Oh me of little faith...the CT actually printed my response to one of their items, albeit with some editing when I rambled a bit. I guess that's why they run a paper, and I run a weblog.

I've decided to take Zompist up on his offer. Let the mocking commence!

Actually, I can't. While I disagree with most of the stuff Mark put on his site, he does make a decent argument for liberalism. Most liberals (and to be fair, a lot of conservatives) seem to use emotion rather than reason to justify their ideas, but he actually presents things in a palatable cause-and-effect format. For a taste, try this, and be sure to check out the rest of his site!

There's a good capsule of how our European "friends" line up with us on our war on terror in the Guardian today VodkaPundit). I'll increase traffic to Stephen's site by letting you click on the link from his page. While I normally abhor the Guardian, it is nice to see "centre-right" as opposed to "right-wing" for a change.

UPDATE: On one hand, I know that my support for VodkaPundit is merely a drop in the barrel for him. On the other hand, if you've seen that one Foster's commercial, you know that every drop counts.

I'm a cool guy, and so I'm going to link to Kevin Holtsberry's Blog Watch III, even though I'm not mentioned. I am seriously considering permalinking to Balloon Juice (who also didn't make the BW3 team this time), even if I'm not mentioned again. John, you have only to say the magic word-amalgamation of "HokiePundit" again to make it happen.

Well, Balloon Juice was kind enough to mention me. If does it again, I'll grant him a magical permalink.

Now, he says that he's sick of the word "quagmire." Thus, I have a modest proposal. Henceforth, I propose that all bloggers shall use the term "dropping the Q-bomb" whenever they feel the need to use a synonym for swampy deathtrap. Peter Sellers fans will think I'm brilliant for coming up with this (that's an order), everyone else will think that I'm a loser. I can deal with that.

A student here at VPI (aka VT) is running for Mayor of Blacksburg. He's opposed by the incumbent and a leftist. I know him, so I've decided to volunteer for his campaign (also because it would be good experience). Basically, the people in Blacksburg don't always get along with the students. Two-thirds of the people in the town are students, and yet there's no one to represent us on the Town Council. Our candidate has declared himself a Blacksburg resident, and a major part of our campaign will be registering students in Blacksburg instead of where their parents live. Only about 1200 people voted in the last mayoral election, and we think that if we can register a lot of students, we have a decent shot at an upset.

I'm going to use the Q-word. Bible apologetics is turning into a quagmire for me. I simply respond to a post on the Freethinker listserv here at Tech, and I'm immediately stormed by more and more questions! Nonetheless, it appears to be up to me to convert the heathens, so it's back to the mines for me. If you'd like to see my answers to the new batches of questions, please drop me a line or leave a comment, and I'll include them here.

Having waited for literally days, my chance has arrived! That guy won't be posting much today, so I can finally be more prolific than he! The day is mine!

Monday, March 11, 2002

HokiePundit is proud to announce that Sean McCray's Next Right has been moved from People Who Haven't Mentioned Me to Consie Christers. My plan for world domination is one step closer to fruition.

Sunday, March 10, 2002

Memo to Fox: Less John Carlin, more Jennifer Waddell. Rrrrrow.

At 8PM, EST tonight, CBS will be showing the previously unreleased footage of the WTC attacks. I think it's important to watch.

Status Report: Possible future forays (not necessarily theological)
1. Why our education system sucks (a scholarly treatise).
2. The Problem of Evil
3. Whither AYBABTU?
4. "What I learned from reading this book"
5. Why do people dislike Christians?
6. People locks to protect guns
7. Are there conflicts between religion and technology?
8. Why I'm not quite Straight Edge

Dave Tepper apparently has been having some trouble reading lately. I'd make fun of him, but I thought it was the Big Nasty the first time I saw it. I had one, and it's not bad, but not super, either. I still haven't worked up the nerve to tell the East African immigrants at the register that I want a Big Nasty, though. I need that killer instinct.

Well, I took the Which Colossal Death Robot Are You? test. Apparently, I'm Optimus Prime, just like Sgt. Stryker. Score thus far:
Philosophers: St. Thomas Aquinas
Colossal Death Robots: Optimus Prime

Theological Foray #5 Apologetics Part 3: Quotes

“Twentieth-century standards of scientific, historical precision and accuracy on the biblical writers does not hold true for any ancient writings. For instance, the Scripture describes things phenomenologically—that is, as they appear to be, even as they appear to us. It speaks of the sun rising and setting. Of course, we know that the sun doesn’t actually rise and set but that the earth rotates. We use sunrise and sunset, even in an age of scientific enlightenment, because this is a convenient way of describing what appears to be happening. Consequently, we cannot charge the Bible with error when it speaks phenomenologically. It speaks in this way, as have people of all ages and cultures.

The same standards of exactness in historical matters were not used in ancient times. Although illustrations abound of the wars, dynasties and reigns of kings in the Bible, round numbers were used rather than precise figures. Today we also do this. When the police estimate a crowd, we know the figure is not precise but close enough for their purpose.
Some apparent errors may be errors in transcription when hand copying the texts. Gutenberg invented the printing press and printed the first Bible in Latin in the 1450s. Although tedious, hand copying had been the method used previously to make Bibles during the centuries before Gutenberg. Remarkably, evidence has demonstrated the overall accuracy of the text from copy to copy over time with very minor mistakes due to the utmost care given to each copy.

In comparing these thousands of biblical documents, some problems as yet do not yield a ready explanation. We can freely admit this, remembering many times in the past when possible discrepancies in a text were resolved when more data became available. Therefore, the logical position would be, where there are areas of seeming contradictions, to hold the problem in abeyance. We can admit our present inability to explain and await the possibility of new data. The presence of problems does not prevent us from accepting the Bible as the supernatural word of God.”
-Paul E. Little, Know Why You Believe

“There is a close parallel between science and Christianity which surprisingly few seem to notice. As Christianity assumes that all in the Bible is supernatural, so the scientist assumes that all in nature is rational and orderly. Both are hypotheses based, not on all of the evidence, but on the evidence “for the most part.”

Science devoutly holds to the hypothesis that all of nature is mechanical, though, as a matter of fact, the mysterious electron keeps jumping around as expressed by what is called the Heisenberg principle of uncertainty.

How does science justify its hypothesis that all of nature is mechanical, when it admits on other grounds many areas of nature do not seem to conform to this pattern? The answer is that since regularity is observed in nature “for the most part,” the smoothest hypothesis is to assume the same throughout the whole.”
–E.J. Carnell, An Introduction to Christian Apologetics

Theological Foray #5 Apologetics Part 2:Mathematical Blunders

These are examples provided to me from the same listserv, showing where math and the Bible don't always agree.

(1) I Chronicles 3:22 --> 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 6

(2) 1 Chronicles 25:3 --> 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 6

1 Chron. 25:3 says “Of Jeduthun, the sons of Jeduthun: [1]Gedaliah, [2]Zeri, [3]Jeshaiah, [4]Shimei, [5]Hashabiah, [6], Mattithiah....” QED.

(3) Joshua 15:33-36 --> 15 cities = 16 cities

(4) 1 Kings 7:23, 2 Chronicles 4:2 --> 2 * pi * 5 cubits = 30 cubits

In ancient times, pi was reckoned as 3.0. 2*3*6=30 cubits.

(5) 1 Chronicles 3:19-20 --> 7 males + 1 female = 5 persons

1 Chron 3:19-20 says “19...And the sons of Zerubbabel were Meshullam and Hananiah, and Shelomith was their sister; 20 and Hashubah, Ohel, Berechiah, Hasadiah, and Jushab-hesed, five.” The five clearly refers to the sons in verse 20, not to the entire family.

(6) Joshua 15:21-32 --> 29 cities = 36 cities

(7) 2 Chronicles 21:20, 22:1,2 --> Son is 2 years older than father!

Jehoram died at the age of forty, having ascended to the throne at age 32 and dying eight years later. His son Ahaziah became king at the age of 22, meaning that he would’ve been born when his father was 18, which is reasonable.

(8) Ezra 1:9-11 --> 1000 + 29 + 30 + 410 + 1000 = 5400

The Apocryphal (which doesn’t mean wrong, but simply not canon) book 1 Esdras lists the items slightly differently, and comes up with 5469 items. As was common practice at the time, the largest round number (5400) is given as the total.

(9) Joshua 19:2-6 --> 13 cities = 14 cities

(10) Ezra 2:3,64; Neh. 7:8,66 --> 42,360 = 29,818 = 31,089

The list in Nehemiah is later than that in Ezra, and is updated. Both passages list only the “sons” and “men of” in the figures of 29,818 and 31,089, while they list “the whole assembly,” presumably including women, as 42,360.

Examples 1, 3, 6, and 9 do appear to be errors, most likely from translation. In each case, a list is simply miscounted. It is also possible that portions of the list got lost, and the Dead Sea Scrolls may be able to help fill in the gap. In none of these cases are things of theological significance missing. If grammatical and spelling errors were enough to conclude that something was wrong, then I shouldn’t have paid any attention to my Physics or Zoology professors last semester. Only when things directly contradict each other should this be brought up. There is a legal principle that “the law takes no notice of small things,” and a similar scientific principle called the Five-percent Rule.

Theological Foray #5: Apologetics part 1

These questions were posed to me on the Virginia Tech Freethinkers discussion group. If anyone has any refutations of my defenses, or additions, please tell me.

No matter how you read it, it's incontrovertible that God promised Tyre would be 'erased from the map' and that never happened.

Alexander the Great razed the city, executed the men, and sold the women and children into slavery. This seems like being wiped from the map, even if they did later rebuild the city.

Judas still explodes in a field AND hangs himself.

Only twice does the term "hanged" appear in the Bible. In the first, 2 Sam 17:23, it explicitly states that the person "hanged himself; and died...." Matthew's account does not go on to state that he died. Hanging is not always
a reliable method of suicide, especially when attaching the rope to a tree branch. "Falling on your sword" as the ancient Romans did is similar to the method described in Acts, and has a far greater chance of success. Thus, it is perfectly reasonable to believe that he failed in his first attempt.

Jesus' lineage is still different between Matthew and Luke.

Only one of the lineages claims be physically his. He would've been considered an adopted son of Joseph, and thus under Jewish law able to lay claim to Joseph's lineage as well as Mary's.

Different people show up at his tomb to find different scenarios, depending on the book you're reading.

The Bible doesn't say that all these occur at the same time, either.

Jesus appears in four different places after his 'resurrection,' depending on the book you're reading.

He actually appears in ten different places. These occur over time. If I were to say that I'm taking Physics, US Gov't, English, and Calculus, do I prove myself wrong?

sometimes in the same passage!! Here's a few examples:

Man was created before the animals Genesis 2:18-19; Man was created after the animals Genesis 1:25-27
Man was created spiritually before the animals and physically after them. Look at the language more closely.

God is satisfied with his works; it is good in Genesis 1:31; God is dissatisfied with his works, decides to destroy it all in Genesis

Man hadn't sinned yet in Genesis 1:31. In Gen 6:6, all men have become sinful except Noah and his family.

God punishes his chosen people (Israel) repeatedly for their wickedness in Numbers 11:1, 11:33, 16:35, 16:44-49, and 21:5;
God has not seen wickedness in Israel Numbers 23:21.

At the time of Num 23:21, the wickedness of the previous chapters is in the past. In Num 23:21, Balaam is reciting God's message to him, and is saying that God is delivering a blessing because Israel is not currently wicked.

Robbery is forbidden by God Exodus 20:15 and Leviticus 19:13, but robbery is commanded by God Exodus 3:21-22 and 12:35-36.

The easiest response is to once again point out that God forbids stealing after earlier "commanding" it. However, a better response is to point out that in Exodus 3:21-22,35-36, God is commanding the Hebrews to recover that which was stolen from them by the Egyptians.

Making of graven images is forbidden Exodus 20:4, but making of graven images is commanded Exodus 25:18-20.

The Bible actually refers to idols in these passages, with special reference to graven images as idols. The Ten Commandments in Ex. 20:4 ban making idols for oneself. This was in response to the practice at the time of having personal gods other than YHWH. The Ark of the Covenant described in Ex. 25:18-20 is not for the Israelites to worship, but for the glorification of God. Thus, it is not an idol, and is not forbidden by the Ten Commandments.

God forbids Moses from counting the Levites in the Israeli census in Numbers 1:48, but God commands Moses to count the Levites in the Israeli census in Numbers 3:15
God forbids counting the Levites when Moses is taking a census for the purposes of raising an army. Later, God commands Moses to count the Levites, since they are to belong to God alone, and not to the Hebrew administration. Once again, God commanding one thing at one time and commanding something else later is not an inaccuracy. If I say at 10AM that I'm not hungry, and at noon that I am hungry, I haven't refuted myself.

Good works are to be seen of men in Matthew 5:16, good works are NOT to be seen in Matthew 6:1.

In the first passage, Christ is commanding that good works be done, and that it is to be hoped that people see and follow their example so that they might also do good. In the second passage, Christ is saying to not do good deeds in order to make other think more highly of you, as the Pharisees do. The difference is between doing good works to inspire others and doing good works
to make others admire you.

No one can ever see God, lest they die in Exodus 33:20, 34:20, but Moses speaks face-to-face with God regularly in Exodus 33:11.

Before anything else, I'd like to point out that Ex. 34:20 has nothing to do with this, but is concerned with rules of sacrifice. In Ex. 33:11, it is said that God spoke with Moses "face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend." In Ex. 33:20, Moses asks God to reveal his face to him. If Moses had already seen God's face, why would he ask him to show it to him? The answer is that the first passage is idiomatic, like saying that I spoke to a female friend in a "man to man" manner. Furthermore, the first passage doesn't say that Moses actually saw God's face, just that he communicated with it. This means that he spoke and heard, rather than saw a pillar of fire or a plague of locusts.

Jesus states that if he ever witnesses himself, then his witness will be a false one in John 5:31, but Jesus bears witness of himself in John 8:18.

Jesus says that if he alone witnesses himself, his testimony will be false. However, he later states that both he and God the Father through the Old Testament witness Christ. He points out that under Jewish law, the testimony of two men is to be considered true. As he has two witnesses, he is true.

It was unlawful for the Jews to put Jesus to death in John 18:31, but it was lawful for the Jews to put Jesus to death John 19:7.

Not quite. The Jews said that a man who claimed to be God should be put to death, but that they did not actually have a law to do so. Many people believe that adulterers should be considered criminals. However, American law (not counting the military) does not consider it a criminal offense, (though you can be sued for it). Thus, the Jews needed the Romans, who actually had capital punishment, to execute Jesus for them.

The risen Jesus says 'Touch Me' in John 20:27, but the risen Jesus says 'Do Not Touch Me' in John 20:17.

In John 20:17, Jesus tells Mary to stop clinging to him and go tell the disciples that Christ is risen. In John 20:27, Jesus tells the doubting disciples to touch him. The difference is that in verse 17, he wants the news of his resurrection to be spread, and Mary cannot start this while she's still clinging to him. In verse 27, Jesus is proving to the disciples that he is not just a hallucination, but a physical fact.

Jesus promises that he will build his church upon Peter and give him the keys to Heaven, whatever Peter decrees will be true in Heaven and on Earth in Matthew 16:18-19, but Jesus calls Peter "Satan", describes him as offensive, accuses him of selfish, evil materialism, and demands that Peter get lost in Matthew 16:23.

The first passage is in the future tense. In the second, Jesus is rebuking Peter for his doubts. These do not contradict each other. At boot camps, the drill sergeants tell the recruits that they will be made into soldiers, but that they are not soldiers yet. Do they contradict themselves?

Anyone who calls another a fool is liable to Hell in Matthew 5:22, yet Jesus says that anyone who hears his words and does not do them is a fool in Matthew 7:26.

Not quite. In the second passage, Jesus says that those who do not believe are like fools. If you are like something, you are not actually such. I am not like a student at Virginia Tech, I am a student at Virginia Tech. In any case, the purpose of the second passage isn't to define who is and who is not a fool, but to state the consequences of unbelief (which is like building a house on sand).

Insects in fact have six legs and not four (Leviticus 11:20).

”Walking on all fours” is idiomatic, and differentiates between the winged insects mentioned and others such as ants or termites.

Bats are not birds (Lev 11:19).

The Hebrew word actually means “flying animals,” since the Hebrews’ zoology was measured differently from our own. Thus, bats and eagles are both “flying animals.”

I'm working on refuting some "Biblical inaccuracies" right now, but I'll post them as soon as I finish them and can HTML format them.

HokiePundit is back in the 'burg. Expect a resumption of services.

Saturday, March 09, 2002

Scrolling down at the aforementioned, I discover that there's to be a DC Blogfest. Unfortunately for yours truly (and apparently for Ben, too), it's the week after Virginia Tech's (and JMU's, and W&M's) break. Maybe you'll be lucky enough to get some bloggers from UVA or VCU (*snicker*). If anyone is interested in scheduling a DC Blogfest II some time in early-to-mid May, that would be awesome. Any time after that, and I'll be off in Merry Olde England for ten weeks.

Moving down, we here at HokiePundit noticed that the worthy Ben wants us to develop a killer instinct and go for it. Alas, it is not something I'm in a position to do right now (mostly because I lack a car, though the job and college degree are also missing from the equation). He is right that I need a killer instinct, though (if I have to develop it, is it really an instinct? Why do I have so many parenthetical thoughts?), especially since I seem to seriously lack one. I got beaten by my sister 10-1 in foosball today, though the other games were a 10-9 loss and a 10-9 win. That's what I get for playing on her crooked table (half her goals come from hitting the back side, and the ball bouncing around my goalie to score. Stupid gravity.).

According to Ben Domenech, Dana Rohrabacher "wins the award for goofiest front page photo for a congressional website." I would humbly submit that Jim Traficant is a far better choice for this award.

I laughed for five minutes straight after seeing it, but maybe that's because I have a dirty mind.

Friday, March 08, 2002

Quote of the day: "You're the first virgin I've met who's taller than me."
-some really cool but short guy at the Black Cat last night

More on this later, when I can think rationally.

Sergeant Stryker relays a conspiracy theory which says that it was really a truck bomb, and not a Boeing, that destroyed part of the Pentagon. I'll admit to having a bit of a problem. On one hand, people saw the plane crash. There's no denying that four planes were hijacked, and so I'd like to know where the last one went if it didn't crash into the Pentagon. My dad's friend's wife actually had a piece of engine fall in through her sunroof without her realizing it as she went to work in Arlington. I actually drove by there a few months ago, and the outer four rings were gone on a portion of one side. On the other hand, the conspiracy theorist's pictures do support his claim. I would imagine that the stone ediface of the outer ring would be far stronger than the metal fuselage of a plane, but the pictures do clearly show only one ring missing. I suppose it's possible the pictures could be doctored. I definitely believe that a plane hit the building, but I would like an explanation for the pictures more detailed than "just see for yourself."

Also, over at the Sarge's, I'm listed under "Salty Nuts." Can anyone tell me what this means? Am I just a goober, or what?

I don't know if my hit counters are permanantly gone, or if I just can't read them from this computer, but I have no clue how many hits I'm getting or where they're coming from. If you've linked to me, please let me know so I can link back (my, my, don't I think a lot of myself?).

Well, apparently Stanley Kurtz and some other guy have said that we need an army of conservative collegiate bloggers. Reporting for duty, sirs!

Note to that one guy: you don't get called by your name until you link to me.

Military people (and their families) and civilians tend to see the world very differently. I'm not sure how to describe it, but I'll provide examples and hope I can churn out a summary or conclusion from them. When the movie Rules of Engagement came out, I went to see it with some of my friends. I was the only military brat, though one person's father played in the Army Band. There are many good scenes in the movie, but the most emotional is after the Sea Marines are taking casualties from Yemeni snipers while trying to evacuate the embassy, Samuel L. Jackson orders his men to open fire, and you see the soldiers all rise and begin firing. Later on, you see politicians try to screw Shaft over to save their own [donkeys], but are ultimately thwarted by a former North Vietnamese officer who had fought against Jackson previously, who testifies on his behalf. After seeing it with my friends, they all thought it was an "eh" movie, and didn't seem to really like it, saying that the acting was cheesy at some places and that the movie "just didn't do it" for them. A few weeks later, I saw it with my dad at the Ft. Belvoir base theater. At the point where the troops are told to open fire, you could feel the tension in the theater (where the Star-Spangled Banner is played before each show) rise, and it was obvious that everyone wanted to stand up and shout "YEAH! That's what you get for screwing with America!" It was similar with Black Hawk Down, with my friends having a "that was [freaking] awesome!" reaction, contrasted with my own "Wow. Those men gave their lives to try to save that pilot's" response. Perhaps it's not so much military vs. non-military, but red state vs. blue state (the military is disproportionately Southern and Western). I saw a truck today with a flag sticker and one that said "We will hunt you down," and all I could think was "you bet we will." I hope I'm not sounding elitist or arrogant, but I think that some people just don't realize that people actually have died, and that heroism is something that happens in battle. No one's the Terminator (my understanding is that would-be Terminators die very quickly in war). Sergeants Gary Gordon and Randy Shugart gave their lives for something the believed in, and instead of a proper burial, were dragged naked through the streets of Mogadishu on television. I understand that I'm a blue-stater by culture, but while I know that I don't understand the mentality of men so brave, I do respect it and will do whatever I can to support it.

I'd be an awful blogger if I didn't give you a link, so go to The Sarge for an exclusive account of the battle of Mogadishu from the pilot of Super 65.

Thursday, March 07, 2002

It's nice when you get a mental breakthrough, and realize that you're actually a more mature person for it.

I'd met a girl in one of my classes last semester that I really liked. She was (is, actually) smart, pretty, fun to be around, and not self-centered or overly-ambitious. Obviously, I had a huge crush on her, though I did my best to hide it, especially since I knew she was a Senior (I was a Sophomore at the time) and was graduating a semester early. Nonetheless, we became friends, and since she lived near me at home, we hung out over Christmas Break. Well, we were talking, and I asked her if she was twenty-one. She said that she was twenty-three (I'm nineteen). The feeling of someone thrusting a rusty, serrated knife into your heart, twisting it, and pulling out your still-beating heart on a skewer was what it was like. The worst part was that she didn't even know about it. Well, in any case, my heart actually physically ached. We hung out a few days ago, too, since I'm on Spring Break, and had a good time. Finally, it occurred to me that pining away on my crush, I'd neglected the fact that I was friends with a really cool person. I had an excellent time being with her, and I got to do things I probably never would've done otherwise. I feel a little ashamed for being so self-centered before, but I'm glad that I realized what a cool friend I have before I did something dumb which might've hurt our friendship. I'm sure most people have realized this long ago, but I just thought I'd share it.

Tuesday, March 05, 2002

I'm not sure if I should post a recent deep thought I had, since the person who it's about might read it and get upset. I would change the details, but they're important and, unfortunately, the person would know who they are. I'll have to sleep on it.

Meanwhile, I'd just like to say that if you haven't seen Black Hawk Down yet, you need to go now. It's quite possibly the best war movie I've ever seen. It has several of those rare scenes (like the one in Rules of Engagement when Shaft orders his men to open fire) where your blood is just pulsing patriotically, and you want to stand up and scream "yeah!" For that matter, if you ever get a chance to see a good war movie at a military base theater, go for it. They'll appreciate it far more than the crowd at the uptown cinema.

My home computer is very slow at loading pages (especially blogger and blogspot, naturally), so I'll only be posting a bare minimum of stuff until Sunday evening. Look for a refutation of several "Biblical inaccuracies" upon my return, along with politics and all that gooey stuff.

Saturday, March 02, 2002

It's Spring Break for me, so expect posts to be few and far between. Or at least until Monday.

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