Sunday, January 28, 2007

Why Bother With Church if This is All There is to It?

I've been sitting here working on some handouts for my students with the TV on in the background. Right now a certain church minister from Texas is on. Every time I have listened to him, his "sermon" sounds like a self-help workshop. Before his sermon, he has everyone hold up his or her bible and recite a little mantra about how "I am what the bible says that I am, and I can do what the bible says that I can do." During his sermon, he doesn't open his bible, and he rarely quotes from it. When he does, it's always one verse lifed out of its context so that it works well with his topic. Today he's talking about developing good habits and overcoming bad ones, and he used Paul's words in Romans 7.14 as an illustration. Right now he's offering the opportunity for TV viewers to ask Jesus into their lives, but he never mentioned Jesus once in his whole sermon.

Every time I hear this preacher, it's the same sort of thing. It's all about self-improvement, with some asking God for help thrown in. Maybe I'm just watching on the wrong days, but I sort of doubt it. I think I can see why there are 25,000 people in attendance at his church. There's no real challenge to act like Jesus. Everything that's said is something that could be read in any popular self-help book in any bookstore. People can attend that Sunday service and come away with some decent advice on how to improve their lives, but they haven't gotten anything that will help them understand God and his purpose for the world. From everything that I have observed, people will come away with a false spirituality that will do them little good in cultivating a deeper relationship with God. I hope that the smaller Sunday school classes offered at that church are more "meaty" than what is being presented in the main service.

I'll admit that I haven't been to church much in the past 10 years. Is this the trend in churches today? If so, I'm not missing anything.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

We Like Foreign Oil, But Not Foreign Wool

This is wierd.

According to, "Bancroft Cap Co. in Cabot, the only company currently under contract with the Department of Defense to supply the U.S. military black berets, has dropped the hat and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court, forcing the Pentagon to look for a new domestic supplier. There may not be another U.S. company that can supply the military with 100 percent domestic materials, which was Bancroft’s downfall: It got caught mixing domestic and foreign wool and leather, which is in violation of U.S. law."

. . .

"Not listed among [Bancroft's] creditors is the Department of Defense, the company’s biggest customer, which alleges that Bancroft owes the government repayment for 340,000 black berets at about $4 each which were shipped before March 2006. Those berets were paid for and then later found to contain either foreign wool or leather and therefore unacceptable. Whether Bancroft concedes that its berets contained materials not produced in the U.S. is not known because repeated attempts to contact owner Barry Goldman have failed."

Surely the Pentagon has more important things to worry about.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

No Gold for You

This week in his State of the Union speech, the president is set to outline a new plan which would be aimed at helping to provide health insurance coverage for people who have none. According to an article reprinted in the Seattle Times, “The basic concept of the president's health-care plan is that employer-provided insurance, now treated as a fringe benefit exempt from taxation, no longer would be entirely tax-free. Workers could be taxed if their coverage exceeded limits set by the government.” In the president’s plan, “The administration would cap the amount of benefits that can remain tax-free at $15,000 for a family and $7,500 for an individual; anyone whose health insurance cost more than the cap would pay tax on the difference. The cap also would be used to establish the amount of the new deduction for people who lack coverage. In this example, a family buying insurance could take a $15,000 deduction — even if the insurance cost less.”

OK. So the federal government wants to tax the difference between the $15,000 cap and whatever the excess cost is. I guess this is like allowing a certain amount of income to be untaxed, but when you earn more than that amount, you have to pay tax on the difference. I get that. I don’t like that if my insurance cost goes up, which it has every year, I’ll soon be paying tax on the difference. But I get it. Apparently, the tax revenue generated is supposed to offset the cost of the next part of the plan, the tax deduction for people who have to purchase their own insurance. The way I understand it, if I bought my own health insurance instead of getting it through work, no matter how little it cost, I could claim a $15,000 deduction on my income taxes. However, I’d venture to guess that most people who don’t get insurance through work either can’t afford what their employer offers or they aren’t offered insurance at all. If the former is the case, these people can’t afford an outside plan either. If the latter is the case, they probably are not paid enough to even consider buying insurance on their own. In either situation, a tax deduction won’t do them any good because they likely already have enough deductions to make their adjusted gross income below the taxable limit. Another deduction is not going to put more money in their pockets to be able to buy health insurance.

What this plan sounds like to me is just another way of collecting more tax to fund the unpopular war effort.

In his Saturday radio address, the president said that the way people normally purchase health care, through their employers, “unwisely encourages workers to choose overly expensive, gold-plated plans.” Now that’s an elitist statement if I’ve ever heard one. A worker who is willing to spend a little more for the better of the plans that his or her employer offers should not be criticized for wanting the best that is offered. I want the president to show America his health insurance plan. I’d be willing to bet it’s more than “gold-plated”—it’s solid gold, I’m sure. I’d like for him to live like an average American for just one year, with an average salary and an average health insurance policy, and see what it’s like to wonder whether insurance will cover a hospitalization from a major illness or accident.

This plan won't do anything to help people who already can't afford insurance. And it certainly won't help those who because of pre-existing conditions must either pay outrageous insurance premiums or do without.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Luther's Day

It's really great that the federal government has set aside today to celebrate my husband, Luther's, birthday, and there will even be parades in his honor!

Happy birthday, Baby! I love you!

Thursday, January 11, 2007


There's a lot to blog about, but I'm not feeling very articulate today, so I won't say more than a couple of sentences about any one thing.

First, my grandpa is very sick. He had to have surgery last night, but he seems to have made it through OK. The situation is still very serious, however, because his body is pretty much worn out--he's 97 years old.

Second, Husband slept really well last night because I did not snore once. However, I slept only fair because it was my first night using a CPAP machine. This is going to take a lot of getting used to. I had to force myself not to take off the mask in the middle of the night. My dog Pete wouldn't get very close to me after I put the mask on--he didn't like the way I looked.

Third, I did not watch Chimpy's speech last night. Just watching and listening to him gets on my nerves, so I'll just see what the commentators have to say about all of it.

Fourth, I still have a lot of work to do before school starts. I have to get my websites up and running, which will mean either going over to my parents' house to use their high speed internet or going to the office, and I don't want to go to the office until it's absolutely necessary.

Fifth, Husband is having sinus surgery on Tuesday, and he is scared half to death about it. I keep telling him that everything that the nurses said could go wrong won't go wrong for him. I think today I'll look online for people who have had the surgery just so he can see that lots of people go through it just fine. He'd never admit it, but he's a little bit of a hypochondriac, so if he knows about any complications that could occur, he will think that he's having the same complications. I hope he doesn't drive me crazy next week.

I guess that's all. I know your life is richer for reading all of this today.

I'm really not in a bad mood--I'm just feeling sort of lazy and don't feel like putting a lot of effort into providing you with one of my usual enlightening and thought-provoking articles.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Thou Shalt Not Plagiarize

Sunday morning as I was straightening up my kitchen, I turned on the radio and began listening to whatever radio preacher happened to be on at the time. This particular guy was preaching out of Romans, which I found interesting since I am studying Romans in BSF right now. As I listened to the guy, I began to realize that his sermon sounded very familiar. The more I listened, the more familiar the message became. I suddenly realized where I’d heard these words before. Now, I am one of those annoying people who talks back to the TV and the radio, and at this moment, I turned to the radio, pointed my finger at it, and exclaimed, “You’re a plagiarizer!”

This guy was preaching straight from the BSF notes. I know this because he read almost word for word, as if they were his own words, a passage straight from the lesson 11 BSF notes on Romans—a passage that I blogged about just a few weeks ago.

I was so amazed that this guy would do such a thing that I went to the internet and found the website for his ministry and clicked on the link for that day’s radio broadcast. As I listened, I hoped that I’d hear him give credit to the BSF notes for the ideas, but he didn’t.

Now, I know that sometimes preachers will recycle other preachers’ sermons. I’ve heard preachers say that they heard so-and-so preach this message and wanted to use the same material, but they gave credit to the author. This guy just made it sound like all the illustrations were his own.

Is this common practice among preachers? What do you think about this?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Will This Presidency Ever End?

First our phone calls, then our emails and internet use, now our snail mail.

Read about it here.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The State of Marriage, According to the Readers of Popular Magazines

According to a poll conducted by AOL and Women's Day magazine, "More than a third of American wives would not marry their husbands if they had to do it all over again.

"The poll by Woman's Day magazine and found that 36 per cent would not marry their husbands, while another 20 per cent were not sure if they would re-do their 'I Do.'

"The poll findings carried in the February issue of Woman's Day magazine, which hit newsstands yesterday, provides an insight into a variety of issues, including flirting, infidelity, soul mates, bedtime habits, honesty and jealousy.

"Of the 3,000 married women surveyed, 76 per cent said they keep secrets from their husbands. The poll found that 84 per cent of American wives would want to be told if their husbands were cheating, with 49 per cent of them stating they have suspected or even caught their husband having an affair.

"On the flipside, 76 per cent admit to fantasizing about a man other than their husband, with 39 per cent stating they flirt with other men constantly."

I don't read women's magazines even when I'm at the doctor's office--I take my own reading material--so I have a sort of negative view of the type of woman who reads them and takes the surveys. It seems to me that many of the women who read women's magazines and take the time to answer the surveys and quizzes have a lot of time on their hands, or they are just too lazy or shallow to read things with more substance (yeah, yeah, I know those magazines sometimes have informative articles about women's health and such, but they're mostly a lot of fluff), so I have to wonder just how representative of all women this poll of 3000 is.

What do you think?

(I'm sorry if I've offended anyone who regularly reads those types of magazines. I guess I should just be glad that you're reading something.)