Friday, September 29, 2006


Today at 11:30AM I am selling my house. I have had this house listed since March 24th -- almost six months to the day. I hate this house, due in no small part to the fact that it has been on the market for 6 months and I've had to pay the mortgage and maintain it during that time. I cannot express how excited I am to go to closing today. I hope I can refrain from dancing on the table.

In somewhat related news, the Dow Jones, and all other American stocks, has been making tremendous gains lately and is close to its historic high. I have no idea what this really means for the economy, but it sounds very promising. Is this another 90s? Probably too soon to tell, I'd bet. But I really don't know anything about economics except that Adam Smith wrote "Wealth of the Nations" about it and John Nash's "original idea" changed the way the world looked at economics. Can anyone with more insight give me some clue as to how significant the stocks' gains and (relatively) low gas prices (down to $2.09 in Waco!) really are?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

MSM: An Inside Look

I have grown out of using the term "liberal media" because I feel that it oversimplifies and is often a defense mechanism used by religious conservatives to discount anything they don't like on TV or in print. It seems like the kind of thing that can't really be discussed rationally anyway. However, Hugh Hewitt had a very interesting conversation with Thomas Edsall who now writes for The New Republic and was the senior political reporter at the Washington Post, where he worked for 25 years, until recently. He also worked at the Baltimore Sun for 14 years. I think everyone would benefit from reading the entire interview with the extremely honest Edsall. Here are some interesting parts:
HH: A proposition. The reason talk radio exploded, followed by Fox News, followed by the center-right blogosphere, is that because folks like you have been the dominant voice in American media for a long time, and you’re a pretty thoroughgoing, Democratic favoring, agenda journalist for the left, and you’ve been the senior political reporter of the Washington Post for a very long time. And people didn’t trust your news product…not you, personally, but the accumulation of you, throughout the L.A. Times, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and they got sick and tired of being spoon fed liberal dross, and they went to the radio when an alternative product came along.

TE: To a certain degree, I agree with that.

HH: And so, why do you think it’s wrong, somehow, for people to want to hear news that they don’t consider as biased? I mean, that’s what it is. It’s just unbiased news is what people wanted. That’s why conservatives like me got platforms, and our blogs get read, and our columns get absorbed.

TE: One, I don’t think it’s unbiased.

HH: It’s transparent at least. Everyone has bias. I agree with that. Everyone’s got bias.

TE: It’s transparent. Okay, that I would agree. And I agree that whatever you want to call it, mainstream media, presents itself as unbiased, when in fact, there are built into it, many biases, and they are overwhelmingly to the left.


HH: ... given that number of reporters out there, is it ten to one Democrat to Republican? Twenty to one Democrat to Republican?

TE: It’s probably in the range of 15-25:1 Democrat.


HH: ...Your newspaper wrote that Evangelicals were ill-educated, and easily led. Remember that one?

TE: That was one of the dumber things that’s been in the paper.

HH: Yeah, but it was in the paper.

TE: It was.

HH: And it got past editors.

TE: The only reason that the reporter who wrote it didn’t get in bigger trouble is that the editor who let it get by was someone of some prominence.

HH: Oh, what was his name?

TE: I’m not going to get into that, but it was someone of some power at the Washington Post, and there was no way they were going to mess with him.

HH: And so, they didn’t really have an early warning system. My guess is, because in the newsroom, and the newsrooms which I have worked, and that’s primarily PBS…

TE: I agree with you on this score, 100%.

HH: It’s very anti-religion, isn’t it?

TE: Well, it…certainly, they would let a quote by that, without, in many cases, without blinking, not recognizing that it was extraordinarily insulting.

Monday, September 25, 2006


In this month's issue of IEEE's Spectrum magazine (I'm a nerd) in an article entitled "Stricter U.S. Gas Standards Stalled," I read this: "E85 is more expensive than gasoline, it provides inferior fuel efficiency, and it yields little if any reduction in greenhouse gas emissions." The article goes on to quote Reg Modlin, director of environmental and energy planning for DaimlerChryselr Corp., saying, "'there is currently little customer demand' for E85 vehicles." No kidding? People aren't demanding cars that run worse on more expensive fuel that is just as bad for the environment and can't be found at most gas stations? I wholeheartedly agree that we need to find an alternative to gasoline and petroleum products, especially in automobiles. However, it does not appear that E85 is a good solution, and I cannot believe that it has so many proponents. The article quotes people blaming Congress for not passing incentives and forcing infrastructure for the general lack of interest in E85. Usually I agree with anyone saying Congress isn't doing their job. In this case, however, I'm thankful that Congress hasn't stupidly signed away tax dollars to something that doesn't sound like its going to help us much anyway. My solution to the oil issue? Nuclear power, especially fusion. If we spent as much money on that as we do researching other alternative fuels we could probably come up with some pretty good ways to keep it safe. And with nuclear energy the power is so cheap that an electric car becomes economically feasible. That's environmentally and economically friendly.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

After Bush?

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has made a name for himself internationally with his strong anti-US rhetoric and, more visibly, his harsh, off the deep end criticisms of US President Bush. My question is, what will he do after the 2008 elections when Bush isn't the president any more? Defining yourself as the guy who said that George W. Bush is the devil seems like a short-sighted strategy, especially in the late months of 2006. Yes, Mr Chavez, we know you hate President Bush. We understand that you want to stand against the US and believe it is a threat to your country. Is there anything more than that? Are you offering some alternative philosophy or ideology? Do you have some reason that the US is wrong? What will you stand for after the 2008 elections when there is no longer the evil Bush to rely on?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

In a Name

"What's in a name?" questions the now-cliche Shakespeare quote. Not much, as it turns out, for the Emerging Church. Or Emergent Church, or Emergent movement, or simply Emergent -- however you may know it. This movement bears a name that conveys absolutely no meaning about the ideals of the movement. It is by definition an inadequate title, and a completely non-sustainable one. In fact, this title ought not apply to any movement but instead is a category that changes as the times change (the Evangelical Church was once the "emerging" school of thought as well). However, another name for this movement will be hard to come by because the people within the movement are as confused about what it means as the name is ambiguous. We, as a whole, have very little idea what we stand for. We are a group bound together more by name then by creed. Except we know exactly what we are not. We have spent the last decade or so figuring out what it is we don't want to be, what it is that turns us away from less "emerging," more established groups. But this definition by negative cannot go on forever. If this group, this "movement," is going to survive it needs to define itself. If people are going to consider the Emerging Church and consider its merits, they need to know what it is they are considering. If we don't find some way to define ourselves by what we are then I fear what is already beginning to happen will become predominant -- various groups with wildly differing ideas will all claim to be "Emergent" and none will be able to hold a legitimate claim to the title over others. And then the title will lose all meaning what so ever in regards to conveying something useful about the group associated with it.

Tony Jones, the National Coordinator of Emergent, says "Emergent is an amorphous collection of friends who’ve decided to live life together, regardless of our ecclesial affiliations, regardless of our theological commitments. We want to follow Christ in community with one another. In a very messy way, we’re trying to figure out what that means." Sooo, pretty much nothing? I don't want to argue with the National Coordinator of Emergent about what Emergent is, but that description doesn't really convey much information to me. He goes on to say, "But in general, what binds people in Emergent is an eschatological conviction, which is the most everybody in Emergent would rally under the flag of hope. We have hope for the future. We have hope for the Church. We have hope for the kingdom of God to break into the present and transform the present." That's a lot better, and maybe something to work with. However, part of the problem we run in to is that even if this is the definition of Emergent, its not widely enough known to be consistant among groups who claim to be part of the Emerging Church. Furthermore, Jones states "It’s not a denomination... Statements of faith are about drawing boards, which means you have to load your weapons and place soldiers at those borders. You have to check people’s passports when they pass those borders. It becomes an obsession—guarding the borders. That is simply not the ministry of Jesus... For the short duration of time that I have on this planet to do my best to partner with God and build His kingdom, I don’t want to spend it guarding borders." I really do appreciate his ideals and sentiment here. But the problem is that it takes away any meaning of the term. By his definition what does it take to be Emergent? Allowing discussion about opposing opinions in theology as well as politics and culture? So, has Emergent just become a new word for tolerant?

Here is where I think Jones and I diverge and the reason for my desire for more concrete definitions where he feels no need: "Emergent could be very short lived. This whole thing could blow up over politics or theology or broken friendships or whatever. I don’t hold any grand illusions over how long this thing will be around. But as long as it’s around, we’re going to do our best to maintain a relational equilibrium." My vision is not of a short-lived experiment into loving each other. Emergent as the organization that Jones is a part of may well disappear soon. But the Emerging Church is not going to just disappear. All the people who are members of churches that identify themselves this way will still remain. Even if Emergent goes away the Emerging Church will not -- it cannot unless the people who make up this church all die suddenly. And so we must do something that is hard for us: we have to create a definition of what it means to be part of this movement (and maybe we could get a new, more meaningful name?). And that necessarily means drawing some boundaries. It means that there will be people who are part of it and people who aren't. And that is hard for many of us in the Emerging Church. But we're fooling ourselves because this distinction already exists in all of our minds, we're just not ready to voice it for fear that we will become just like everything we are trying to move away from. However, in the spirit that I believe embodies this movement, the purpose of this definition is not to exculde, but to include. Not so that we can identify who is not a part of the group, but so those of us in the group know who we are and what it means to be part of this group. And the definition should reflect that. I'll be writing more about this as I have more ideas. I may try to get input from Tony Jones and David Crowder if either has the time. My express desire is to create a definition to further give life to this movement. Again in the spirit displayed by the movement, I feel this is a conversation that we need to be having in our churches and with those not in our churches and between our churches, and therefore any and all input is not only welcomed but encouraged. Please, tell me what you think whether you love, hate, or don't care at all about the Emerging Church.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Another Route

Why don't we hear any politicians on either side of the aisle talking about something like this? This guy sounds to me like he knows what he's talking about and he seems qualified to talk about it. His proposal would take a lot of time and money, but it seems worthwhile in the short and long term if it could be pulled off. Is he wrong? Or are there politicians talking about it that I'm not aware of? Or are the politicians more interested in politics, and therefore short-term high return 'plans,' rather than finding a viable long-term solution? I think that the politicians and we the American people need to decide if we are really committed to establishing a democracy in Iraq or if we are more interested in seeing our side "win" the political battle that has been established around Iraq. Do we want to see a military victory in Iraq or a quick withdrawal of troops? Or do we want to see Iraq emerge as a stable democracy in Iraq even if it means committing more time and money and switching approaches completely? Furthermore, if we do decide that we want real progress in Iraq and our politicians aren't going to take us there, what do we do? How do we show our politicians that we want a different solution than either side is offering? And I don't believe that the right answer here is voting for one side or another.