Monthly Archives: August 2008

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Alabama's Back

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Fall is now near, which means college football is back. So is my team: Alabama. Whacking the No. 9 Clemson Tigers at a neutral site, 34-10, was very impressive. Dominating them on both sides of the ball, and finishing a game the way a great team finishes plays and quarters in football, was quite impressive to this Tide fan. Bama had 25 first downs to 11 and rushed for 239 years to Clemson’s 0. Pre-season observers said Clemson had the best running back duo in the US. Even if that proves to be untrue 0 yards rushing is a great night for a defense. On top of that Alabama had no turnovers and the much maligned QB, John Parker Wilson, was 22 for 30 passing. The new offensive coordinator seems to know how to use what he has, which is a talented interior line and a QB who is seasoned but needs to be kept within the boundaries of what he does best. 

By |August 31st, 2008|Categories: College Football|

Christian de Duve on Our Very Bleak Future

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In suggesting what our world might look like in fifty years Christian de Duve, founder of the Institute of Cellular and Molecular Pathology in Belgium (and a Nobel Prize winner in 1974) paints a dark portrait. He says that if our children and grandchildren "keep letting nature follow its course, the situation fifty years from today can only be dramatically worse than it is now" (11). He goes on to paint an extremely grim portrait of humans destroying the planet in a myriad of ways. He concludes: "Large cities, crushed by overcrowding, will have degenerated into jungles ruled by crime and violence" (12).

Christian de Duve, who celebrated a gala 90th birthday event in October of 2007, then concludes in this present essay:

"There is nothing unexpected in this dismal view; it is none other than the extrapolation of the present into the future. It is not an apocalyptic picture conjured by some prophet of doom, but the expression of a

By |August 31st, 2008|Categories: The Future|

George F. Smoot on Cosmic and Human Time

Yesterday, I referred to Mike Wallace’s new book, The Way We Will be 50 Years from Today (Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 2008). I now want to include comments on a few essays from this intriguing and frankly somewhat depressing look at where we are going as a human civilization.

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George F. Smoot, an astrophysicist who in 2006 shared the Nobel Prize in physics, teaches at the University of California at Berkeley and conducts serious research. His work is primarily on the creation and long-term history of the universe. This leads him to say that fifty years is but a "dot" in cosmic time. But on a human scale it is will likely be a significant period of time, especially given the rapid rate of change and innovation we are now undergoing. He says predicting the future is "instructive and humbling to try" (7).


He predicts a major change in energy use and resources, which seems to

By |August 30th, 2008|Categories: The Future|

The Way We Will Be 50 Years from Today

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CBS’s news reporter, Mike Wallace, has conceived an interesting idea in his new book, The Way We Will Be 50 Years from Now (Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 2008). Predicting the future is always a dangerous business, but assembling 60 of what are called "the world’s greatest minds" to share their vision of the future is worth the time to at least scan over some of the comments and ideas.

Though the publisher, Thomas Nelson, is historically a religious publishing house, this is not a particularly religious title at all, unless secularism counts as religion. It includes contributions from activists, scientists, business leaders and political figures. The range of contributors is intriguing, to say the least, but there is not one deeply and self-consciously religious response in the entire book, with perhaps one lone exception.

Dr. Francis Collins, the geneticist who led the human genome project, writes chapter two: "A Revolution in Medicine." As you would expect he writes about the promise of

By |August 29th, 2008|Categories: The Future|

Obama's Acceptance Speech: What Did He Actually Say?

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Barack Obama is a truly marvelous speaker. His speech tonight was quite impressive, so far as rhetorical skill and speech cadence go. He is obviously sincere and thus comes across as a decent man who cares for his country. To my mind demonizing him serves no real purpose in the context of a needed civil debate. Rick Warren was right when he appealed for such a civil debate in his Saddleback Forum two weeks ago, which is still the best opportunity we have had to compare the two candidates seriously. Sadly, it may be the last given how this campaign will go. There is a odd irony in this. An evangelical pastor may have done more to allow us to get to know these two men than any media figure or interviewer in America. I was so proud of Rick Warren that I cannot easily find the words to say, "Good job my brother."

I listened to Senator Obama’s acceptance speech this evening

By |August 28th, 2008|Categories: Politics|

The Trials of Ministry in Many Urban Centers of the World

I have a pastor friend in Nairobi, Kenya, who writes to me about his own ministry and country regularly. He wrote me today telling about a pastor friend, Samuel, who was my friend’s classmate at Baptist Seminary. Samuel was shot and killed on Sunday night by thugs as he made his way home from visiting a church member. I suppose I do not think of this danger much. I know of one or two such shootings in our urban centers, where ministers have been shot in the routine line of doing their work. But this is common in many places. It doesn’t appear this was related directly to the fact that Samuel was a minister but the fact was that he was doing ministry when he died. It reminds me of the distinction, if there is any at all, Chuck Colson once made to me about these things. I told him that my late father died of hepatitis B contracted, most likely, while working on prisoners in the Memphis Federal Penitentiary. My dad was a retired dentist and did this volunteer work to serve

By |August 28th, 2008|Categories: The Persecuted Church|

A Few More Comments from My Front Row Seat in Illinois

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Well, just when you think Governor Rod Blagojevich would not get worse he does. In a very shrewd move the governor issued an executive order this week, while in Denver, to challenge the state legislature. Here is how the story goes.

The state passed an ethics reform act that would ban statewide office holders from taking campaign cash from state contractors. Guess who this is aimed at? Yes, our governor. So what does the governor do with this legislation? He issues an order banning state contractors from giving money to any state candidate at all. This new provision would include county and city job holders.

The governor’s action sounds noble and ethically important at first glance.  But the Illinois watchdog Campaign for Political Reform urges lawmakers to override the governor’s amendatory veto. And State Representative John Fritchey, a Chicago Democrat, says he will try to do just that. Good for Representative Fritchey. Our governor will try almost anything, including campaign finance

By |August 27th, 2008|Categories: Politics|

What the Convention Reveals to My Front Row Seat in Illinois

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As Illinois Democrats gather in Denver to nominate their favorite son for the presidency a citizen of this great prairie state has to ask a lot of questions the national media will not cover. I mean this is Illinois week in Denver. Besides Obama a whole group of our leaders are speaking and sharing a lot of face time with the delegates, the media and the Senator. I sure wish they would get their act together in my state.

While the theme in Denver is "change" there is no state in all fifty that needs it more than Illinois. Our big three—Governor Rod Blagojevich, Speaker Michael Madigan (who doesn’t much like the governor himself), and Emil Jones, our senate president who is himself engaged in some strange retirement manipulation of the future, all continue to spend freely and bankrupt this great state.Gov_legislature
Over the

By |August 27th, 2008|Categories: Politics|

Front Row Seat from Illinois

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In effort to report news from the great state of Illinois, and not simply attack a particular candidate, it is imperative that people outside this state know something about the state and its political history, since around 1950. First, we have convicted more former governors and sent them to prison in my lifetime than any state in the union. And Chicago is synonymous with political jokes about corruption and influence. The most humorous line you hear before every Chicago election is: "Vote early and vote often!" And Chicago has a long history in having a major influence in the Democratic Party. Think of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley, and now his son, Richard M. Daley. And remember that it was Bill Daley, the brother of Richard M., who directed the Al Gore campaign in 2000.

So, from my front row seat in Illinois forgive me if I am always a tad skeptical about the role of influence in politics in my state.

By |August 26th, 2008|Categories: Politics|

Obama and the Special Interest Groups

Barack Obama has promised to shun the special interests and their bucket loads of cash. But the reality is, as with both parties, still the same. Influence peddling, or lobby groups doing their thing on the inside of political campaigns, is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. The difference may be that Obama has made this a frequent issue and openly runs on change in this area.

150pxdemocratslogosvgDelegates at this week’s Democratic National Convention are greeted with an AT&T goody bag, a key "sponsor" of the event. In fact this entire event is sponsored by industries like Pepsi, Coke, Molson Coors, Anheuser-Busch, Union Pacific, as well as SEIU and other labor unions. Even Pfiser, Abbott and AARP are sponsors, along with Motorola and Ford. Denver’s budget called for raising $40 million. The local mayor has said no taxpayer money will be used and it appears he will be right. Industries will sponsor the whole week.

Corporations are

By |August 26th, 2008|Categories: Politics|
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