Thursday, May 29, 2008

Collapse of Christianity in UK

from "Bishop says collapse of Christianity is wrecking British society - and Islam is filling the void"
By Sean Poulter and Niall Firth (from UK Dailymail)

The collapse of Christianity has wrecked British society, a leading Church of England bishop declared yesterday.

It has destroyed family life and left the country defenceless against the rise of radical Islam in a moral and spiritual vacuum.

In a lacerating attack on liberal values, the Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, said the country was mired in a doctrine of 'endless self-indulgence' that had brought an explosion in public violence and binge-drinking.

In a blow to Gordon Brown, he mocked the 'scramblings and scratchings' of politicians who try to cast new British values such as respect and tolerance.

The Pakistani-born bishop dated the downfall of Christianity from the 'social and sexual revolution' of the 1960s.

He said Church leaders had capitulated to Marxist revolutionary thinking and quoted an academic who blames the loss of 'faith and piety among women' for the steep decline in Christian worship.

Dr Nazir-Ali said the ' newfangled and insecurely founded' doctrine of multiculturalism has left immigrant communities 'segregated, living parallel lives'.

Christian values of human dignity, equality and freedom could be lost as the way is left open for the advance of brands of Islam that do not respect Western values.

The bishop said 'something momentous' had happened in the 1960s. He quoted historians who point to a cultural revolution in which women ceased to uphold or pass on the Christian faith and to the role of Marxist revolutionaries.

Dr Nazir-Ali pointed with approval to a finding that 'instead of resisting this phenomenon, liberal theologians and church leaders all but capitulated.

He said: 'It has created the moral and spiritual vacuum in which we now find ourselves.' In the place of Christianity there was nothing 'except perhaps endless self-indulgence'.

The bishop said the consequences were 'the destruction of the family because of the alleged parity of different forms of life together, the loss of a father figure, especially for boys, because the role of fathers is deemed otiose, the abuse of substances (including alcohol), the loss of respect for the person leading to horrendous and mindless attacks, the increasing communications gap between generations and social classes - the list is very long.'

Another result, he said, was that immigrants had been welcomed, not on the basis of Britain's Christian heritage, to which they would be welcome to contribute, but by the 'newfangled and insecurely-founded doctrine of multiculturalism'.

The bishop warned that views not founded on Christianity would not produce the same values. 'Instead of Christian virtues of humility, service and sacrifice, there may be honour, piety, the saving of face, etc'.

He questioned what resources were available for an ideological battle against radical Islamism, saying 'the scramblings and scratchings around of politicians for values which would provide ammunition' were hardly adequate.

Read the whole thing here.

VDH for President

from "All About Me" By Victor Davis Hanson

Here is how our baby-boom generation solves problems:

-- Recently, George Bush went to Saudi Arabia to ask the ruling House of Saud to pump more oil. That request had about as much chance of success as the Democratic-led congressional effort to "sue" the Saudis in American courts for their selfish "price-gouging."

The current debate about energy in the United States has devolved into doing the same old thing -- consume, don't produce and complain -- while somehow expecting different results. Congress talks endlessly about the bright future of wind, solar and new fuels, while it stops us from getting through the messy present by utilizing abundant coal, shale and tar sands; nuclear power; and oil still untapped in Alaska and off our coasts.

-- For the past five years, we fretted over a "housing boom" that had priced an entire generation out of the market. In response, government and lending agencies got "creative" by relaxing standards to allow shaky "first-time" buyers into the red-hot market of high-priced homes. Home-improvement TV shows proliferated on how to "flip" houses and buy "no-down-payment" properties.

When the bubble inevitably burst, cries of outrage followed about how "they" (never "we") caused a "depression" in housing. Our leaders shrieked about greedy lenders and incompetent regulators who foreclosed on us -- never that the American people themselves caused much of the speculation problem, or that housing prices are finally becoming affordable again for new couples.

-- Over 70 percent of the American people, and a majority of Democratic senators, wanted to remove Saddam Hussein -- overwhelming support for the administration's war that rose even higher as a brilliant campaign finished off the Baathists in three weeks.

But when a messy insurgency erupted, suddenly we heard that our victory was ruined by "their stupid occupation."

-- The current Social Security system is unsustainable. But the baby boomers who gave us Botox aren't about to up the retirement age and freeze their own cost-of-living hikes to allow the cash-strapped next generation a little help in paying for our out-of-control benefits.

There is a pattern in all these dilemmas. And it is not conservative-versus-liberal politics, but generational chaos. Those who came of age in the 1960s now hold the reins of power and influence -- and we are starting to see why their values have worried almost everyone for nearly a half-century.

History has seen something like them before in the "blame them" years of Demosthenes' Athens, the self-indulgence of Julio-Claudian Rome, the "after me, the deluge" generation of late 18th-century France, the Gilded Age, and the Roaring Twenties.

What are the baby boomers' collective traits? Like all perpetual adolescents who suffer arrested development, we always want things both ways: Don't drill or explore for more energy, but nevertheless demand ever more fuel from other suppliers.

Sociologists have correctly diagnosed the perfect storm that created the "me" generation -- sudden postwar affluence, sacrificing parents who did not wish us to suffer as they had in the Great Depression and World War II, and the rise of therapeutic education that encouraged self-indulgence.

Perhaps the greatest trademark of the 1960s cohort was self-congratulation. Baby boomers alone claimed to have brought about changes in civil rights, women's liberation and environmental awareness -- as if these were not prior concerns of earlier generations.

We apparently created all of our wealth rather than having inherited our roads, schools and bountiful infrastructure from someone else. And in our self-absorption, no one accepted that our notorious appetites created more problems than our supposed "caring" solved.

Our present problems were not really caused by an unpopular president, a spendthrift Congress, the neocon bogeymen, the greedy Saudis, shifty bankers or corporate oilmen in black hats and handlebar moustaches -- much less the anonymous "they."

The fault of this age, dear baby boomers, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.

I wish this guy was running the country!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What is Endangered: Climate or Freedom?

From "Blue Planet in Green Shackles" by Vaclav Klaus (from RealClearPolitics)

My today's thinking is substantially influenced by the fact that I spent most of my life under the communist regime which ignored and brutally violated human freedom and wanted to command not only the people but also the nature. To command "wind and rain" is one of the famous slogans I remember since my childhood. This experience taught me that freedom and rational dealing with the environment are indivisible. It formed my relatively very sharp views on the fragility and vulnerability of free society and gave me a special sensitivity to all kinds of factors which may endanger it.

I do not, however, live in the past and do not see the future threats to free society coming from the old and old-fashioned communist ideology. The name of the new danger will undoubtedly be different, but its substance will be very similar. There will be the same attractive, to a great extent pathetic and at first sight quasi-noble idea that transcends the individual in the name of something above him, (of something greater than his poor self), supplemented by enormous self-confidence on the side of those who stand behind it. Like their predecessors, they will be certain that they have the right to sacrifice man and his freedom to make their idea reality. In the past it was in the name of the masses (or of the Proletariat), this time in the name of the Planet. Structurally, it is very similar.

I see the current danger in environmentalism and especially in its strongest version, climate alarmism. Feeling very strongly about it and trying to oppose it was the main reason for putting my book together, originally in Czech language, in the spring of 2007. It has also been the driving force behind my active involvement in the current Climate Change Debate and behind my being the only head of state who in September 2007 at the UN Climate Change Conference in New York City openly and explicitly challenged the undergoing global warming hysteria.

My central concern is - in a condensed form - captured in the subtitle of this book. I ask: "What is Endangered: Climate or Freedom?" My answer is: "it is our freedom." I may also add "and our prosperity"

...I want to say that the Climate Change Debate in a wider and the only relevant sense should be neither about several tenths of a degree of Fahrenheit or Celsius, about the up or down movements of sea level, about the depths of ice at North and Southern Pole, nor about the variations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The real debate should be about costs and benefits of alternative human actions, about how to rationally deal with the unknown future, about what kind and size of solidarity with much wealthier future generations is justified, about the size of externalities and their eventual appropriate "internalization", about how much to trust the impersonal functioning of the markets in solving any human problem, including global warming and how much to distrust the very visible hand of very human politicians and their bureaucrats.

My deep frustration has been exponentially growing in recent years by witnessing the fact that almost everything has already been said, that all rational arguments have been used and that global warming alarmism is still marching on. It could be even true that "We are now at the stage where mere facts, reason, and truth are powerless in the face of the global warming propaganda" (R. McKittrick, private correspondence).

The whole process is already in the hands of those who are not interested in rational ideas and arguments. It is in the hands of climatologists and other related scientists who are highly motivated to look in one direction only because a large number of academic careers has evolved around the idea of man-made global warming. It is, further, in the hands of politicians who maximize the number of votes they seek to get from the electorate. It is also - as a consequence of political decisions - in the hands of bureaucrats of national and more often of international institutions who try to maximize their budgets and years of careers as well regardless the costs, truth and rationality.

~Václav Klaus is President of the Czech Republic.
Hasn't it always been the same trick, since the premortal world? To take away freedom. Just another mask at the same old masquerade ball....

Thursday, May 22, 2008


From Scientific American "Blogging--It's Good for You" By Jessica Wapner (h/t HotAir)

"Self-medication may be the reason the blogosphere has taken off. Scientists (and writers) have long known about the therapeutic benefits of writing about personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. But besides serving as a stress-coping mechanism, expressive writing produces many physiological benefits. Research shows that it improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell activity and reduces viral load in AIDS patients, and even speeds healing after surgery. A study in the February issue of the Oncologist reports that cancer patients who engaged in expressive writing just before treatment felt markedly better, mentally and physically, as compared with patients who did not.
Scientists now hope to explore the neurological underpinnings at play, especially considering the explosion of blogs. According to Alice Flaherty, a neuroscientist at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, the placebo theory of suffering is one window through which to view blogging. As social creatures, humans have a range of pain-related behaviors, such as complaining, which acts as a “placebo for getting satisfied,” Flaherty says. Blogging about stressful experiences might work similarly.
Flaherty, who studies conditions such as hypergraphia (an uncontrollable urge to write) and writer’s block, also looks to disease models to explain the drive behind this mode of communication. For example, people with mania often talk too much. “We believe something in the brain’s limbic system is boosting their desire to communicate,” Flaherty explains. Located mainly in the midbrain, the limbic system controls our drives, whether they are related to food, sex, appetite, or problem solving. “You know that drives are involved [in blogging] because a lot of people do it compulsively,” Flaherty notes. Also, blogging might trigger dopamine release, similar to stimulants like music, running and looking at art.
The frontal and temporal lobes, which govern speech—no dedicated writing center is hardwired in the brain—may also figure in. For example, lesions in Wernicke’s area, located in the left temporal lobe, result in excessive speech and loss of language comprehension. People with Wernicke’s aphasia speak in gibberish and often write constantly. In light of these traits, Flaherty speculates that some activity in this area could foster the urge to blog."

Read the whole thing; it's pretty fascinating.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The ties of the soul: Children of Israel

President Bush Addresses Members of the Knesset Jerusalem, May 15th, 2008

We gather to mark a momentous occasion. Sixty years ago in Tel Aviv, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israel’s independence, founded on the “natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate.” What followed was more than the establishment of a new country. It was the redemption of an ancient promise given to Abraham and Moses and David -- a homeland for the chosen people Eretz Yisrael.

Eleven minutes later, on the orders of President Harry Truman, the United States was proud to be the first nation to recognize Israel’s independence. And on this landmark anniversary, America is proud to be Israel’s closest ally and best friend in the world.

The alliance between our governments is unbreakable, yet the source of our friendship runs deeper than any treaty. It is grounded in the shared spirit of our people, the bonds of the Book, the ties of the soul. When William Bradford stepped off the Mayflower in 1620, he quoted the words of Jeremiah: “Come let us declare in Zion the word of God.” The founders of my country saw a new promised land and bestowed upon their towns names like Bethlehem and New Canaan. And in time, many Americans became passionate advocates for a Jewish state.

Centuries of suffering and sacrifice would pass before the dream was fulfilled. The Jewish people endured the agony of the pogroms, the tragedy of the Great War, and the horror of the Holocaust -- what Elie Wiesel called “the kingdom of the night.” Soulless men took away lives and broke apart families. Yet they could not take away the spirit of the Jewish people, and they could not break the promise of God. (Applause.) When news of Israel’s freedom finally arrived, Golda Meir, a fearless woman raised in Wisconsin, could summon only tears. She later said: “For two thousand years we have waited for our deliverance. Now that it is here it is so great and wonderful that it surpasses human words.”

1 Ne. 22: 6
6 Nevertheless, after they shall be nursed by the Gentiles, and the Lord has lifted up his hand upon the Gentiles and set them up for a standard, and their children have been carried in their arms, and their daughters have been carried upon their shoulders, behold these things of which are spoken are temporal; for thus are the covenants of the Lord with our fathers; and it meaneth us in the days to come, and also all our brethren who are of the house of Israel.

I hadn't seen this anywhere else, and thought I'd pass it on. Read the full account here.
h/t to Dymphna at Gates of Vienna

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wii Fit!

So, we ordered Wii Fit a few months ago...we should have it by the end of the month. I love the Wii, especially Wii Sports, which feels as if you are really playing. If you haven't tried it, you are in for a surprise. My husband does not like video games, except flight sims. He loves the Wii. I saw a great review of the new Wii Fit today, and thought I'd share a bit of it....

"Nintendo's Wii Fit comes with a wireless "balance board" that you set on the floor in front of a TV hooked up to the Wii console. About two feet wide and half as deep, the board is essentially a fancy scale, which not only measures your weight, but also detects your equilibrium with startling precision. To play Wii Fit, you stand on the board and go through a series of exercises/games that fall into one of four categories: balance, strength, aerobics, and yoga. You can box, snowboard or hula hoop. You can practice your tree pose and lotus position. Or you can play a tilting game that uses careful body movements to maneuver balls across a shaky platter onscreen, as you try to sink them into various holes.
You score points and unlock new challenges by completing each task without falling off the board or tilting too far in any direction. The board is constantly monitoring your center of balance and docking points for every wobble. The hardest part, I quickly discovered, was simply standing or crouching still for increasingly long periods of time. That's a far cry from your average shoot-'em-up game, in which fast moves and fancy button-punching are key to your success. Wii Fit, on the other hand, is all about subtlety and restraint."

Sounds like fun, eh? But quite a different kind of game for sure. I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"Aliens would still be God's creatures"

Vatican: It's OK to believe in aliens

According to Breitbart, the Vatican's chief astronomer says that believing in aliens does not contradict faith in God, and that the vastness of the universe means it is possible "there could be other forms of life outside Earth, even intelligent ones" and that such a notion "doesn't contradict our faith" because aliens would still be God's creatures. "Ruling out the existence of aliens would be like 'putting limits' on God's creative freedom."

Sounds like they may be onto something:

Moses 1: 35
"But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them."

Blogroll updated!

OK, I updated my blogroll, finally. All links should now work, and I added a few that I read everyday and yet, somehow managed to not link them...sorry to Gates of Vienna, my favorite blog...finally on my list! Thanks to everyone on it, it is such a marvelous thing to be able to associate with such amazing people!

Small times in the Big City

A blog I meant to highlight long ago, but here it is NOW!

Small times in the Big City is a blog by a lady in my ward named Melissa. She has two adorable children, and I got to know her and her babes in the time that she was my visiting teacher. She is an amazing woman, very strong, and very courageous. It is so refreshing to see others in my own ward in the LDS blogosphere, and I am grateful for Elder Ballard's encouragement of us to lift up our voices to the world through this medium. I do believe that a few people can make a powerful difference in the world, starting with the influence we have on each other. We need each other's strengths...and as RedGreen would say...We are all in this together!

Jenn-Lee's Blog

This post is to highlight a lovely blog that I was heretofore unaware of...a lovely, lovely lady from my ward, Jenn-Lee. She is vivacious and passionate, loving and kind, and devoted to her family and to the Gospel. I was so delighted to find her blog, and she is helping to further Elder Ballard's desire to see more members of the Church adding to the voices in the world of blogs by offering to teach the other sisters how to have a blog of their own! Great, great energy! Now, if I can just do better on my own blog! LOL (I don't know if I said, by way of apology for my slackness in blogging, that I DID finally finish my master's degree, and am already waist-high in work on my Ph.D...? OK, no excuse, I know it...I'll have to do better!) Go check out Jenn-Lee's blog and you'll be glad you did! She, and her blog, are fabulous!
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