Thursday, April 28, 2005

Large Orange Objects--LA Style

We saw one of these driving down Los Feliz Blvd this past Sunday. Apparently these people feel Gated Communities are eeeeeevil. I don't completely disagree with them. I'm not a fan of the fortress mentality either and I agree with their third bullet point especially.

Anti-Christian Bias and Bigotry

Stanley Kurtz has an excellent article at NRO on anti-Christian bias and bigotry perpetrated by the Left. The Left is reluctant to engage in honest debate about cultural issues like gay marriage since they know their arguments aren't persuasive. Their positions do not resonate with most Americans, therefore they can't take a chance with letting the people decide their laws, which is why they're emphatic that none of Bush's judges get confirmed. The Left shows over and over again their utter contempt for democratic processes whenever they force decisions through the judiciary rather than the legislative branch. They've shown they'd rather have an oligarchic form of goverment, a government ruled by an elite few, than the democratice form they vowed to uphold. Instead of doing the honorable thing (engaging in debate), they resort to ad hominem attacks on those they disagree with, who in this case are Christians. We're seeing more and more bigotry against Christians by the very political party who proclaims the loudest that they're the most tolerant. The political left today is a joke and a disgrace to their own traditions.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Armenian Genocide

April 24th is Armenian Martyrs Day. How do I know this? Oh perhaps it's the 100 young blood Armenians in cars festooned with the Armenian flag cruising up and down Los Feliz Blvd all afternoon honking back and forth to each other while blaring Armenian music. So much for my Sunday nap. In 1915, the Turkish goverment with the help of Kurds committed genocide against the Armenians. They forced them out of their homes and their towns and killed them. Somewhere around one million died. The Armenian genocide was the first such event of the 20th Century. Hitler used it as a precedent for his own Holocaust against the Jews. He took note that the world didn't respond when the Turks started the bloodshed (probably because they were in the midst of the Great War) and determined he could get away with it as well. To this day, the government of Turkey refuses to acknowledge their atrocities against the Armenians. Turkey will not apologize and Turks will not admit any such event even happened. Armenians are justifiable angry at Turkey's denial of the genocide and have tried for years through protesting and petitioning the Turkish government to get official recognition for the event. Diplomatic relations between the two countries is strained to say the least and reconciliation can't happen until the truth is admitted. Sadly the Kurds became the next victimized people group during Ataturk's campaign of national and cultural unity.

Last summer a group of us toured South Eastern Turkey. Time after time we visited what once were Armenian churches or Armenian quarters but were now mosques or burned out buildings. Sanliurfa and Diyarbakir had vital church communities which were then decimated at the hands of the Turks. I'm not Armenian, but after touring these churches I understood their anger and frustration. In Sanliurfa an Armenian community sought refuge in their church trusting the local Turkish officials who said they'd be safe there during the riots. They were slaughtered. The church was left unoccupied for decades. Then, about a decade ago the local governor decided he wanted it turned into a Mosque. Hundreds of families within Urfa protested saying they didn't need or want another mosque. Such behavior from Muslims is odd. Of all the cities we visited, Urfa had the most conservative Islamic population. After the genocide many families who were once Christian converted to Islam to stay alive. However, most families had grandparents or friends with roots in Christianity and this Armenian church in particular. Thus, it appears that they wanted to honor that part of their heritage (although this isn't known for certain). Once the governor got wind of the resistence to his plan, he threatened the protestors that he would "out" them in the newspaper as Christians if they didn't play along. That ended the protesting. However, as work on the minaret began people protested again that they didn't want a minaret on the mosque (which is simply unheard of for a mosque, it's like saying a Christian church shouldn't have a cross). After several years, the minaret has remained incomplete. Instead of being a spear that pierces the sky it's a square stump level with the roof.

Turkey has an amazing history extending back centuries and centuries. Yet, the religious diversity that once marked Turkey has vanished. Hopefully as they prepare for EU membership they'll allow religious freedom.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005 the great clue to the existence of God.

This guy's thoughts on God, reality, and Christ's humanity resonate with what I've been thinking about these days. Life, existence, our very selves are absurd and meaningless without the existence of a personal God. Yet so many people go through life thinking they can ignore the ultimate questions about reality. They avoid the questions because they're avoiding the answers. They convince themselves that sex, fame, money, success, personal fulfillment, or even just the immediate moment are ultimate reality when they are mere trifles compared to what God really wants for us.

When it comes to ultimate reality and our humanity, there are really very few options.
If there is no God, there is no such thing as the "human" in the classically Judeo-Christian sense. There is an existential human, thrown into existence and forced to determine his own identity by choices that are, ultimately, absurd. There is the pagan human, a struggler against forces that he cannot understand or control, but can only hope to religiously placate or nobly ignore. In this contemporary time, the human is a category in the pages of science, an observation in the notebook of the psychologist, yet these disciplines do not give us our humanity, but increasingly take it from us. They tell us we are dancing to our DNA while being no more than one species among millions briefly occupying a warm rock in a third-rate solar system in a second-rate galaxy in a universe that doesn't care.

If there is a God, then our humanity stands in reference to God. If it is the God of pantheism, we are God every bit as much as anything else is God. Humanity is a meaningless concept. If it is the God of Deism, we can only look for his fingerprints on the project and hope to derive some significance for our existence from that distant being. So far, the message isn't promising for our humanity or our future. If it is the God of eastern spirituality, our humanity is one level among many, a place we pass through from one existence to another, and posessing no special significance and, ultimately, illusory.

If it is the God of the great theistic religions who truly exists and has made us to be who and what we are, then humanity has meaning. "Special" meaning. Real, endowed, created meaning. All three religions share the creation accounts in Genesis, and agree that human beings do not just reference God as a social or psychological fact, but in the essence of our identity. Without God, we do not know who we are. Without God, we lose our humanity, and all reference points for what it means to be human.

Read more Mark Spencer.

More Reasons to Smile

Add China, North Korea, and Iran to the list of tyrannies that will be toppled in the next few years. Yes, the three biggies are being smacked down by their own people. The people have reached the end of their tolerance for oppression and are starting to riot and rebel. They see freedom at their borders, but now want it for themselves. Freedom is a universal human longing that cannot be suppressed forever. Read Michael Ledeen's hopeful article about the future of democratic revolution in the big three. I had a huge smile at the end of it. Yet, it makes me wonder what I'd be doing if living in any of those three countries. It's so easy to cheer on others risking their lives for freedom and liberty from the safety of your own free country. I hope that I would be willing to risk my life in similar circumstances.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Viva La Revolution

The Cedar Revolution in Lebanon that is. Keep abreast of how the Lebanese people are taking back their country from the Syrian overlords.

Ah, the toppling of dictators and tyranny always makes me smile.

Why Mainline Churches are Dying

I came across this quote at the Institute of Religion and Democracy, an organization that promotes democracy and religious freedom while also documenting the outrageous behavior and beliefs of the dying mainline denominations in order to revive them to their true calling:

2005 Outrageous Quotes of the Week
Week of April 10 - 16
"In Pakistan, the United States is deeply concerned with the madrassahs, that is, the private fundamentalist Islamist schools. Here we have so-called Christian academies and home schooling, our own form of madrassahs."
- Jim Winkler, General Secretary of the United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society

Another example of disgusting moral equivalence. He's comparing HOME SCHOOLING to Islamic schools that teach kids to hate the Jews and that they have a religious right to kill the infidels. Yep, they're exactly the same Jim. What awards have you gotten lately for that bit of brilliant moralizing? Yech. I spit on him.

Seriously though, mainline churches are dying because they are turning away from the truth. The truth is the only thing that invigorates churches. Christians believe Jesus Christ is the way, the TRUTH, and the life. Therefore, when churches stop preaching Jesus Christ, they stop preaching the truth and people stop attending. People crave the truth, although they may not always realize it. I believe most people want to live their lives according to what is true and good. Humans have an inherent desire for something greater than themselves, they want to know they matter and have purpose in life, but the answers cannot come from within us. What ideologies, religions, worldviews offer anything close to the Christian understanding of who we are and why we're here? NONE. How can anything compare to the fact that a personal God created us in order to fellowship with Him? I was reading John 15:15 recently where Jesus says I no longer call you servants, but friends. That is GOD calling us friends. That should blow your mind.

Freesia Phobia

I must get this off my chest. The other day I was cleaning up after a party function. The friend I was helping asked if I wanted to take home some flowers from the table decorations. Without pausing I said no. Surprised, my friend said she's never known someone to turn down free flowers. I couldn't tell her that these flowers weren't worth taking home. They were freesias, one of the more insipid flowers in my book. These were especially lacklustre being a striped variety in pale shades of pink and tan. What flower looks good in tan? I love the smell of freesias in body sprays and bath bubbles, but the stand alone flower has nothing remarkable about it. If planted in bunches in the ground they can look perky with a girl-next-door appeal, but plucked they're not worth the trouble of watering in my humble opinion.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Get a load of this statistic from a George Will column:

In Britain, more babies with Down syndrome are aborted than are allowed to be born. In America, more than 80 percent of the babies diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome are aborted.

I can't express how disturbing this is. Parents killing off their own flesh and blood because that child doesn't meet their expectations, because they're not perfect. This is where abortion on demand has led us. What right do parents have to determine that some lives are desirable and others are not? Seriously, where do they think this "right" to kill off their kin comes from? They are literally killing persons because they are not perfect. Does this sound familiar?

Fighting Back

I work in the hood of North Hollywood. One year the police found a dead body in our alley. Alcoholics loll under our trees. Most mornings new graffiti trails across a wall or door. Bums wash themselves in front of our office windows. Men come and go from the porn video shop across the street. Car stereos of any quality were routinely stolen from employee cars. A delightful neighborhood.

About a year or so ago, a youngish couple was hanging around our building. They were walking back and forth along the side and then around the back. After about three hours of this, an employee came rushing in saying they saw them near one of the cars. Three of us ran outside catching the couple in the act of breaking in to steal a stereo. They took off and we chased after them across a busy intersection. The two men pursued them helped by a sympathetic woman in an SUV who drove them through the neighborhoods to search for the culprits. I was yelling THIEF, STOP THIEF at the top of my lungs at the intersection to get people's attention. The cops were called. They canvassed the area and detained the woman. They then drove each of us separately by the woman to identify her. I wasn't positive, but the two others were. She was booked. Who knows what happened to her, but I have to say it was pure pleasure giving them a run for their money. They didn't even get the stereo. I wondered later if they would try to do it again. Who would want to take the chance of getting caught by angry victims? We haven't had any more car break-ins since that day.
According to LA Observed, “There are 9,000 unsolved murders since 1960 on the books in Los Angeles.” That’s roughly one unsolved murder a day for this city. Is that good for a city this large? I guess it depends on who you talk to. My biggest frustration living in a metropolis is the inability of the Police to prevent or punish those engaged in non-violent or petty crime. They don’t have the resources of money, men, or minutes to expend on crime that doesn’t have any greater damage than the victim’s dented wallet. We’ve had two stereos stolen in two years and Steve’s ’64 Falcon was the victim of a hit and run that cost us $1500 to fix. Steve tried to fill out a police report for the Falcon, but they persuaded him not to since they wouldn’t do anything about it anyway. I’ve wondered if we should fill out police reports for every crime simply to have a record of it in case anyone runs statistics on unsolved petty crime. Maybe if the numbers were astronomical they would do more to prevent it. But then you think they haven’t solved 9,000 murders so why should I bother them with these petite crimes. There seems to be very little incentive to report, but a whole lot of incentive to live a life of minor thievery and dishonesty since the cost to do so is so low.

A few months ago Steve turned off Los Feliz Blvd to avoid traffic congestion and nearly ran over a large well-built black man without a shirt beating on a slim black woman. The man was punching the woman in the stomach and kicking her in the middle of the street while a “friend” sat on a low wall watching. We pulled over to call 911. The man ran off, the woman jumped into her car and immediately slammed into the side of a car slowly driving up the street. The car, now with a crumpled rear panel, stopped. The old man driving was obviously confused about what just happened. Meanwhile the woman took off. The old man continued driving. Steve and I tried to flag him down yelling for him to stop since we saw what happened. The old man never looked at us. The man who beat the woman would probably never get caught or if he did the woman would probably not press charges. The man whose car was now crap wouldn’t get her insurance to cover his damages.

I remember feeling so helpless. I remember thinking that this stuff happens all the time and the police will never arrive on time and will never have the resources to really do anything helpful. I hate injustice. I hate knowing that some criminals may never pay for their crimes or at least for particular crimes. I hate feeling that I have to accept the possibility of being a victim of a non-violent crime. I hate feeling that there’s virtually nothing I can do to prevent it. I hate being passive.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Materialism's Dystopia

This little essay posted by the Acton Institute is an accessible summary of the perils of materialism as seen through the works of C.S. Lewis. We live in a schizophrenic society that lives off the benefits of a Judeo-Christian worldview or an anti-materialist perspective, but wants to believe that the "truth" about existence is materialism. Materialist "values" could never create a Western Civilization the very foundation for our comfortable, safe, and opinionated lives. Freedom, equality, and human rights can not come out of a materialist worldview. They come from Judeo-Christian ideas. Materialism leads to society's suicide.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Beautiful Losers

Steve and I visited the Orange County Museum of Art located in Newport Beach for the show Beautiful Losers. "Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street Culture celebrates the extraordinary creative production and cultural influence of underground youth subcultures." Basically disaffected youths disenchanted with the "bourgeois" culture into which they're born and therefore needing to create a subculture to feel good about themselves. I do give them props for creativity, for activity (not to be confused with activism) and not passivity. Yet, much of their angsty art is either boring or depressing. I really don't care how society has "damaged" or "disppointed" them. Mostly I hate preachy art that attempts to tell all those who come to view it what bastards they are for mostly getting along quite well in society. There is some technically interesting art in which the design element is fetching but the content is ho-hum. But then, there was one room that made the trip to the hinterlands of OC worth it. The work of Evan Hecox, Thomas Campbell, and Ryan McGinnis was a delight to view. It was like stumbling from gloomy, rat invested, pee reeking alleys riddled with bums to wide sunny spaces vibrant with color and the smell of fresh cut grass. Granted I do not know (or care to know) the philosophy behind the work of these artists, but the work itself expressed a joy and delight in living that positively refreshed me after the previous boughts with depression experienced in the former rooms. Perhaps because of the happier frame of mind they seemed to be working from, they're work was visually more vibrant, alive, and explorative.

Friday, April 08, 2005


3:20pm Lunar Eclipse. We tried looking through our fingers. That didn't work so we got sunglasses. That combined with our fingers worked a bit better, but not great. While standing in the red zone a guy pulled up and asked what we were doing. Duh, dude. It's a lunar eclipse. He gave us the brilliant suggestion to look at the sun's reflection in a car window. Who knew, but it worked! We witnessed the moon moving in front of the sun and creating a disc of darkness over it. Amazing!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Report from the unknown

Do you ever wonder about the unknown? Do you wonder what people are eating, reading, or planning in towns or cities you've never heard of in parts of the world you're not sure to place on a map? Places that would never appear on your radar, unless catastrophy or war struck them? Well here's one of those places.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Pepperwood Grove

During a heated game of Scrabble Steve and I drank a bottle of Pepperwood Grove Syrah (which is probably why he won, but that's a whole other story). While I was drinking I realized how much I love this particular Syrah.

Until one or two years ago, I wasn't much for wine drinking. I just didn't have the taste buds for it. Then came my first glass of a chilled Riesling. The Gerwurtztraminers followed and the next thing I knew wine was pleasant. However, I still had no taste for reds whatsoever. They were too dry and usually left a burning sensation in the back of my throat. No more! I've developed a love affair with the Pepperwood Grove Syrah. Not only is it super tasty, but it's super cheap. Only $6 a bottle but highly recommended. It's an excellent everyday wine that you probably won't get tired of. I've tried the Cote de Rhone's and the Burgundy's, the Cabernet's and the Merlot's and though I now like both the Cote de Rhone and Burgundy, I can't drink it on a regular basis like my beloved Syrah (The Cabs and Merlots do not get drunk in my house). I've tried other labels roughly the same price, but I always come back to Pepperwood Grove. I have no idea what makes them petite, but next on my list are the Petite Syrahs.