Monday, November 27, 2006

"Family integrated" worship is nothing new

My friend Scott Brown has an excellent essay posted on Vision Forum's website, titled "My Top Four Favorite Family-Integrated Church Pastors":
The critics of the family-integrated church movement often forget that what we advocate was practiced by some of our most treasured pastors and theologians of the past. The Puritans, for example, enjoyed a rich life of family-integrated worship in their churches. ... Imagine what it would have been like to have heard the voice of Richard Baxter or Matthew Henry or Jonathan Edwards as a babe in arms, then as a teenager, and then as a young man starting out life with a new wife at your side.
Not to mention Moses, Isaiah, Jesus, Paul, ...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What the Youngs eat for Thanksgiving

Young Turkey, of course.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Economic nationalism

An excellent article against "economic nationalism" by Sheldon Richman of the Foundation for Economic Freedom.

Yes, under free trade in a global economy people have to adjust to changing conditions. What's the alternative? Government policies to freeze the status quo in place? If that thinking had prevailed earlier, some of us would be poor farmers and blacksmiths today; the rest would not have been born. Moreover, disruptive change is not something only foreigners can cause. A modern new plant in California can mean unemployment in Ohio. What does the economic nationalist say to that? Do we need trade barriers between states? Why not between cities, neighborhoods, households? If that makes no sense, then we're just arguing about how big the free-trade zone should be. When you trace the principle out consistently, you see that protectionism is no blueprint for prosperity or even security.

The way to minimize the hardship of change is to make sure the
marketplace is free of government intrusion.

The Forgotten Man

Ulrich Zwingli is sometimes called the forgotten man of the Reformation, being eclipsed by Martin Luther to the east and in the next generation, John Calvin to the west. Zwingli was the leader of the Reformation in Zurich, Switzerland, and developed the tenets of his teaching from Scripture, not from Luther. As he pointed out, the fact that he and Luther grasped the same teachings from the Bible quite independently of each other only underscores their common Source.

Jean Henri Merle d'Aubigne was a Swiss pastor and church historian in the early 1800's. He is best known for his tremendous History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century (published in five volumes from 1835-1853), a work I read a few years ago. Merle - the latter name was adopted in tribute to his ancestors - wrote that work in a chronological style, so the reader sees the parallel development of the Reformation in several places and several leaders. One consequence, though, is difficulty for the reader to follow a single place or person from start to finish. Mark Sidwell edited the History to extract a very readable biography of Luther, The Triumph of the Truth, and he has done the same for the forgotten Zwingli.

For God and His People: Ulrich Zwingli and the Swiss Reformation is a useful volume but admittedly not as easy a read as Triumph of the Truth. The organization of the Swiss Confederation with its cities, cantons, and city-states sharing the same name, plus the fluid democratic nature of Swiss politics and the entanglements caused by the tradition of Swiss mercenary service, make the situation hard to follow. In Switzerland, while Zurich and Berne were ultimately able to secure a treaty recognizing their Protestant faith, it was from the position of defeat; at the battle of Kappel the Catholic cantons, with much support from foreign troops, decisively whipped the unprepared and poorly manned militias from the Protestant cantons and caused the death of Zwingli himself.

Zwingli is a difficult character in some respects, as well. While he was not the only reformer to confuse the jurisdictions of church and state (the reason, for example, that Anabaptists were treated with such harshness in many places), Zwingli cuts a sharp profile, even starker than Oliver Cromwell, who was much more the soldier and politician. Merle, a Swiss himself, is equally sharp in his criticism of Zwingli's transition from yielding the sword of the Lord to that of man. It is a remarkable providence of God that the Swiss were not totally overwhelmed in a military Counterreformation, suffering the battlefield death of Zwingli and the death by plague of Oeccolampadius shortly afterward; had Myconius and Bullinger not been spared, northern Switzerland may have returned to the papal fold even before the death of Luther.

Some of my ancestors left Zurich to come to America in the mid-1700s, settling in the districts of central South Carolina in the districts opened to German Protestants by the Hannoverian King George III. Two of them were pardoned by the king later, for their participation in the Regulator movement which tried to establish independent law and order when the authorities in Charleston were unresponsive to pleas from the inland back country. One of them later provided supplies and provisions for the Revolutionary effort, and his descendents, very distant cousins of mine, are still active in state politics (though on the Democratic rather than Republican side). I can only speculate whether the villagers who departed from the country around Zurich were the great grandchildren of men who heard Zwingli and Myconius with gladness and maybe had their share in the fields of Kappel as well.

Home again, home again

Many Chinese restaurants in the U.S. have a painting of eight horses, running together in a rolling pastureland. The symbolism was explained to me once and included the fact that eight, in Chinese thinking, is the luckiest of numbers, and something about horses being symbolic of wealth.

Recently I realized that this painting is much like my daily life, which seems to be riding many horses at one time. One day, about Tuesday of last week, I was in Roanoke, Virginia, for an engineering course in connection with my contracting work. After class, I came back to my hotel and made a sales call to a potential customer for our family import business. When that was done, I had supper, then finished writing a review of Facing The Giants for my usual publisher, Carolina Journal.

Thursday I drove back from Roanoke as far as Cary, where I spent the night in preparation for a 6:40 a.m. flight from Raleigh-Durham International to Green Bay, Wisconsin. This was a joint sales call to another customer involved with my contracting work. While we changed planes in Minneapolis, I dictated a revision of my Carolina Journal story over the phone to my wife, Melanie. After we got to Wisconsin, I had to deal with a question from my work with North Carolinians for Home Education.

Friday we flew back from Wisconsin and my family and I drove to our grandmother's house in Union, S.C. Saturday we spent in Easley, S.C., at a board meeting for South Carolina Home Educators; Sunday we returned to Smithfield to pick up a bundle of sample material to show to the customer in Charlotte on Monday. Last night we were back at home.

At one point, I was sleeping in my fourth state in as many days (Roanoke-Cary-Green Bay-Union). I'm looking forward to a few days at home, now, being properly thankful.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

"A positive result of an unhappy memory"

A slightly odd perspective on a phenomenon seen from time to time. I don't know if RWE is a private-sector business or a government agency. Item appeared in "This Week in Germany", November 10, 2006, a publication of the German Information Center.

German Parents Garner Gifts from Blackout Baby Boom

While this weekend's power outage affected more people, other recent blackouts in Germany have had bigger consequences for energy customers. When 82 high-voltage towers collapsed under the weight of snow in Münsterland last November, 250,000 people had to live for days without heat or power during the winter storm.

Fertility agent? Fallen towers in the Münsterland region, Photo, dpa

Nine months later, maternity wards at local hospitals noticed a spike in the number of babies born. A coincidence? Gudrun Fahling of the civil registry in Steinfurt thinks not. "We have about 50 births a month," she told the N-TV in August. "This month, it will probably be 65. It's probably the power outage."

Hospital spokesperson Stephan Schonhoven, on the other hand, is skeptical. "I am very doubtful that the icy cold and lack of food really put anyone in the mood."

The more romantically inclined in Münsterland would prefer to imagine that the power outage did lead to at least a few candlelight conceptions. Not the least of these is RWE, the utility that owned the towers. The energy concern is now giving all the parents who conceived during the outage a gift of 300 euros ($385).

"People had a hard time," said RWE spokesperson Klaus Schultebraucks. "If more children are being born there now, then that is certainly a positive result of an unhappy memory."

Friday, November 10, 2006

A hint of things to come

As a lifelong Republican voter, I have no explanation for the mail today:
Dear Hal Young,

The Democrats need your continued support. That's why we created the Democratic Party VISA Platinum card, an innovative way you can join your fellow Americans to help support Democrats. Every time you make a purchase, you will earn a 1% rebate which you can donate in your name to the Democratic National Committee -- automatically -- with no need to open your checkbook ...
This is wonderfully Freudian. The same week when I cast what was probably my twentieth Republican ballot, the DNC contacts me ("a spirit of bipartisan cooperation", no doubt), encouraging me to go into debt at high interest rates and support the party of retreat with money that I somehow gave up before I ever saw it.

The only thing is I'm not convinced the RNC won't send me the same offer before the week is up.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

... and the next morning

Checking WRAL's listings this morning, nothing changed, only solidified, since last night.

In the state Supreme Court race, incumbancy carried the night. Sarah Parker defeated challenger Rusty Duke 67-33; Mark Martin held off eccentric challenger Rachel Hunter by the same margin. Patricia Timmons-Goodson, who didn't put out a single campaign sign I can recall, defeated Eric Levinson 58-42. In the one race without an incumbent, Robin Hudson bested Ann Marie Calabria in a much closer result, 51-49.

The same kinds of margins played out in the Congressional races. Incumbent Bob Etheridge (D) retains his seat for another term, handing the Republicans' former 2nd District chairman Dan Mansell a 66-34 loss. Dan only filed for the election the week of the deadline this spring, and only had about $25,000 of funding for a campaign over a district which sprawls across several counties including Nash, Wake, Johnston, Harnett, Wayne, and if I'm not mistaken, parts of Lee County, too. On the other hand, in Lillington, Etheridge's home town, the "Bob Etheridge for Congress" billboard on the highway looked more permanent than the municipal "Welcome to Lillington" sign next to it. Only 18 months until the filing deadline for 2008.

In other Congressional races, the office holders remain, with the exception of the 11th District's Republican Charles Taylor, who was unseated by Heath Shuler 54-46; the 8th District's Robin Hayes (R) is 50-50 with challenger Larry Kissell who trailed by 468 votes at the end of the counting.

The Johnston County School Board races didn't change overnight; the Republicans picked up a seat with Butler Hall, who carried the same 18% of the ballots as returning Democratic incumbent Dorothy Johnson. Larry Strickland was a shoo-in with 24%. Newcomer Brian Hale scored a respectable but not quite adequate 12%. This will give the Republicans a 3-4 minority on the board, not enough to run the program but a welcome boost.

It looks like Jackie Lee is not going to move to the Superior Court after all, though Republican Susan Doyle has won the district attorney's job.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A long day ...

Election Day turned into the usual long stretch. We just got back home from the Republican "victory celebration" (admittedly a mixed batch this time) and we're unwinding with email and election returns.

In 2004 I managed to visit about 34 of the 41 precincts in the Johnston County; this year we structured the poll watching a bit differently and I only went to eleven. The rural precincts seemed to be running about 25% turnout, while the town precincts like South Smithfield (our own) and East Selma were 30% or more. Of course, in our area, the fact that three of the candidates on the ballot are neighbors made it something of a personal election. For what it's worth, I did not vote for all three of them.

At this point in the evening, it appears that Bob Etheridge (D) will be returning as District 2's Congressman. Rusty Duke is not doing well in his race for Chief Justice on the state Supreme Court, though Ann Marie Calabria is in a tight race. Mark Martin seems to be reelected but Eric Levinson may be in trouble. Sheriff Steve Bizzell is winning handsomely. It also looks like the Johnston County School Board will have three Republicans this year instead of four; Larry Strickland is well in the lead for reelection, and GOP challenger Butler Hall is holding third out of three, but Democrat Dorothy Johnson looks like a solid second place.

Wife Melanie spent several hours in the rain around lunchtime handing out palm cards with the GOP candidates (especially the officially nonpartisan judicial races ... right); when she came back, the boys took turns in shifts until the polls closed. I don't think our precinct ran more than four hours today without a Young present. My time was spent on the roads of southwest Johnston County talking with polling officials.

Interestingly enough, there were no serious problems reported with people, machinery, or provisional ballots this year, at least not in the precincts I visited. Two things were common to all of them, though -- a higher than expected turnout, and universal disgust with the electronic voting machine reserved for visually impaired voters.

UPDATE 11/08/06 a.m.: Corrected the name of the one Democrat re-elected to the school board.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Blue moon?

By the way, Senator Smith commented on the so called “Blue Moon” election this year – neither president, senator, nor governor shows up on the ballot this time. I was curious how often this occurred; place mat-doodling suggests it only happens every twelve years, at least here in North Carolina:

2000 – President, Governor
2002 – Senator A
2004 – President, Senator B, Governor
2006 – Blue Moon
2008 – President, Senator A, Governor
2010 – Senator B
2012 – President, Governor
2014 – Senator A
2016 – President, Senator B, Governor
2018 – Blue Moon

For what it's worth, we do have one slight difference from other states -- our state senators are elected every two years, the same as state representatives. There's been a suggestion to change that but I haven't heard much discussion about it.

Food for political junkies

There's an old cliché about “the rubber chicken circuit” for political speakers. I've had my share of mediocre banquet food listening to a variety of speakers, true, and come to think of it, there was a lot of chicken.

On the other hand, there's a lot to be said about true stump meeting feeds. Every region has its specialty to serve when a crowd shows up. When we lived in Louisiana, it was jambalaya or boiled crawfish – really! Growing up in South Carolina, politicians hosted a fish fry, unless the Catholics were involved – the Knights of Columbus had a lock on shrimp boils, somehow. Here in eastern North Carolina, campaign dinners mean barbeque, with plenty of vinegar and red pepper, and fried chicken.

For a “blue moon” election, a year with neither president, senator, nor governor on the ballot, there has been some serious campaigning in local circles. Our state senator, Fred Smith, is an acquaintance of mine, and my family has been to a couple of his local meetings recently (thanks for dinner last night, Senator). Our sheriff is a rising star in the state GOP, and while his challenger this year lost traction as soon as he got out of the driveway, Sheriff Bizzell sponsored The Big Event of the season last week – probably 800 people showed up for copious barbeque and dozens of candidates at Central Warehouse (Smithfield being a historic tobacco market town, no one has to ask what kind of “wares” they housed). The county GOP chairman asked me to let my son know there were plans for, yes, barbeque, at Republican headquarters for Tuesday evening's victory celebration – though word is there will be baby back ribs, too. We passed up several other invitations.

As much as I have enjoyed it, because dearly do I love barbeque and minding not a free meal, I had to identify with the wry comment of another political junkie last evening: “After Tuesday, Mama and I are going to have start going to the grocery store again.” Ah, well. We had leftover chicken and hush puppies, courtesy Sen. Smith, again at home this evening.

A question for fathers

Which is more indicative that one is a parent:

(1) Entering the conference room at work and finding a couple of Legos in your pocket
(2) Finding a blue crayon between slices of bread inside the bag
(3) Deciding you like finding Legos in your pocket, or not being surprised at all to find the crayon (only being curious whether it was a Crayola or one of the cheap ones they give out at restaurants)
(4) All of the above

Answer: Having experienced (1) through (3) myself, I have to say the answer is (4)