...thoughts expressed here are not necessarily final.

July 04, 2005 Happy National Holiday!

We had a good time at a barbecue, where we met the two daughters and son-in-law of a class member. We found we had Harry Potter, Narnia, and Tolkien to talk about. "Who is the best candidate to be the half-blood prince?" "Who's going to die in book six?" dominated the discussion, as one might imagine. Chad, the Son-in-law is working on a Masters in History and focusing on the question of the lingering of slavery into the 19th century. My recent reading on Martin Van Buren's role in this gave us something to talk about as well; so what else would we talk about at a barbecue? That occupied a bit of time along with hillbilly golf and washers, two local games I have never seen anywhere but locally. We capped off the night with fireworks. Troy must have shot the year's fiscal budget on fireworks this year- it was pretty impressive for such a small town.

Hillbilly or ladder golf

Washers- get the rules here!

I sampled the ribs, a hot dog, a hamburger, Earnie's potato salad, a s'more, slaw and some sort of almond dessert. What is more American than pigging out to show you appreciate living in such a great country?

Fast Fizzy and Junky

These foods lead to lopping about nine months off your life according to current studies.

This is my favorite of the national holidays- we went to see Ladies in Lavender (another review) this weekend, and had a barbecue at a new acquaintance's home on the 4th. I thought the move was extremely wel acted- as one would expect, and the music provided by Joshua Bell was exquisite. the story was a bit iffy. the incredible coincidence of the young violinist being washed ashore only toultimately meet up with the sister of one of the greatest violinists in the world was a reach. But the beauty of the film outstrips its questionable aspects.
We checked out What the Bleep Do we Know? and that provided a bit of lively discussion. Can science and faith really be on the same path?We went down the rabbit hole and discovered some lousy science and a bad, if interesting, movie to boot. We have such experts as anesthesiologists and spirit channels propounding the mysteries of the universe. That several real physicists aided and abetted this move is curious. It is a weird melange of truth and error, affirming some of the things christianity affirms but with a wrong premises and even more misguided conclusions. What stood out to me however, is how much the view represented in the movie has in common with Word Faith. Create your day by visualizing it.

Interestingly, the June issue of Discover magazine has a cover article that addresses some of the physics of quantum mechanise and illustrates the dumb premise of the afforementioned film. How can you be in two places at once when you're not anywhere at all?

During the recent SBC annual meeting in Nashville... from Baptist Press...

"...denomination president Bobby Welch unveiled the "Everyone Can Campaign." That initiative calls for Southern Baptists to witness, to win to Christ, and to baptize one million people in the coming year. In reaction, Welch says, Southern Baptists must expect an increase in spiritual warfare. Witnessing, he says, is hard work -- and hard spiritual work as well. "You can get away with just about anything until you try to bust Hell wide open and win souls and keep them from going to Hell and get them on the road to Heaven," he says. "You can get away with murder, almost, out there -- the Devil won't bother you much. In fact, sometimes I think he helps you. But when you get to this [winning souls to Christ], it's tough sledding." Last year, more than 10,000 SBC churches reported they had no baptisms."

I personally have no knowledge of such churches- I have never been associated with a Baptist Church that didn't baptize anyone. Witnessing abounds. On the other hand I have been in SBC churches that had a disturbing percentage of unregenerate yet baptized people in the pews. They manifest themselves by an unrepentent, prideful and spiritually dead view of the scriptures and the devaluing of Christ. For revival to come, these hearts must be confronted, rebuked, and loved into submission. I believe they would not be in the context without the sovereign intervention of God and we are called to address their lostness rather than treating them like weaker brothers.

Oops- we had a lesson on 1 Corinthians yesterday that got into an area that defied the text- Meat offered to idols passage in 1 Corinthians. I read "weaker brother" to be a Christian who is immature and whose conscience towards the Lord is so tender that he is yet unable to discern between sin and that which is not expedient. Several of the class thought it referred to the lost. I say the weaker brother is a true believer who has over scrupulous attitude towards the freedom we have in Christ. So what does the text say?

Dave Guzik has some insight from Romans 14. Bible.org takes on the question here.

Galatians 5 tells us we are free indeed

1It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

then in verse 13

 13For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."

Back in 1 Corinthians 7- 9 we often miss that Paul is offering an argument. one part of it says

1 Cor. 7: 22 For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord's freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ's slave. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.

Compare this with

1 Cor. 9: 19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.

So on one hand Paul says not to be the slaves of man, and on the other he says to do that very thing. What has happened in the interim between these two passages? Liberty has a reason and a use- to glorify Christ. We are not to be respecters of me for their sake, but for Christ's sake we are to lay down our rights willingly and even joyfully even as Christ laid his rights down.

So it would seem that the context demands that Paul is referring to the lost on one hand whom he would win , and on th eother hand, to the weaker brother , whose conscience is easily bruised. We need to read carefully as to which is which, and to be ready to speak the truth in love as bondslaves to Christ.

July 6, 2005 Back to HP (not Hewlett-Packard) musings...

As Iwrote previously, I had a spirited conversation with some twenty-something HP fans this weekend and they got me to thinking again- I'll have to review book 6 but perhaps Chamber of Secrets might be more important to peruse from some of JKR's comments.

So after putting on my thinking cap, here's my stab at who the half-blood prince is- or some permutation of it...

Neville's mom Alice Longbottom was a pureblood who falls in love with a king (but not a warlock) who is killed. She was found with child. His Dad Frank, another pureblood who always loved her marries her to provide a father to the child. Both were great aurors and of the Order of the Phoenix. Bellatrix Lestrange and the deatheaters tortured them into madness and as a corrollary result, they cannot reveal the truth about Neville's conception.

They reside in St. Mungo's now where Neville secretly visits them.

Notably, Alice gives Neville a Droobles bubblegum wrapper on a visit which Neville keeps when his grandmother tells him to throw it away. this seems significant. Is Alice trying to communicate something about her role as his "bearer "?

Who is Saint Mungo? According to legend, the illegitimate son of royalty.


Curiously, the name implies it is a Christian hospital.

As noted before,, the Phoenix is obviously a Christian symbol as well.

The battle in the Dept. of Mysteries between the twelve from the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore's army versus the death eaters resulted in the breaking of Frank Longbottom's wand, which Neville used up to that point. There may be some significance to this as well. The other thing that was broken was Trelawney's prophecy which was destroyed at his time as well so we don't know what the death eater never heard regarding it. Sirius Black also died in the struggle, as I recall... Or rather he is sent through a mysterious veil hanging from an arch and is presumed dead...Hmmm...

That's my fantasy answer. I'm thinking Dumbledore dies in book six as well.

Some insightful questions from the web for JKR:

It is said to be immensely difficult to cast an Unforgiveable curse; according to Bellatrix it takes a lot of hate, and according to Moody a lot of power; so how was Peter Pettigrew able to perform the killing curse on Cedric Diggory? Is he really that powerful of a wizard?

Hagrid has introduced himself as Keeper of the Keys at Hogwarts. Is this only an honorary title, or is there anything more to this?

If Lord Voldemort encountered a Boggart what would he see?

Throughout the series it has been said that Dumbledore is the greatest wizard of the age and that he was a prodigy. During the O.W.L.s we hear one of Harry's testers reminiscing about how he had never seen some of the things Dumbledore could do with a wand before. How did he gain all of his skill, power, and knowledge, even at such a young age?

Oh say can you see?

Oh say can you see? The dawn is breaking on eternity
Oh say can you see? All the signs of what will come to be
The world is the canvas of our soon and coming King
Shadows are made bright there, and new visions he will bring

The Lord will give you vision as you walk in his light
And though we are no longer blind we must learn to use our sight
We must learn to see a-right.
Come Lord Jesus You are the one who truly sees us
Now help us see ourselves in a way that is right

So gaze on the future as you remember the past
Live in the present though it will not last
Live like it’s your last day for the last day’s coming fast
The night is nearly over as time unscrolls to uncover
So put away those darkened deeds and put on the armor of light

In your presence the pastures are green
In your presence we see the unseen
And on the day of your return
We’ll be surprised at what we learn
All the hidden things revealed at last
So reveal them now instead we ask
As we walk in your light
You give us insight
As we humbly bend the knee
As we learn to humbly see
With a vision borne of walking in the light
Where the light is the glow of your face shining bright

Transfigured then but transformed now
As we learn to learn the why’s and how’s
Of living in this world below
As aliens and strangers
We face many toils and dangers
If we choose to walk within the shadows
Heaven knows...

Anthony Foster
July 6, 2005

Interview with Ralph Winter

A bold and precise mind is exposed in an interview with the director of the Fantastic Four. Excellent reading and fodder for discussion!


How to blow a fortune and make the FBI's Most Wanted List
by mcmachete, Don't try this at home...

Even if YOU don't know what faith you are, Belief-O-Matic™ knows. Answer 20 questions about your concept of God, the afterlife, human nature, and more, and Belief-O-Matic™ will tell you what religion (if any) you practice...or ought to consider practicing.

Warning: Belief-O-Matic™ assumes no legal liability for the ultimate fate of your soul.

Walk by Faith

When I look to the horizon and I see the shadows fall,
They mix there gently with a mystery I don’t understand at all.
When I look into this mirror, to divide the dark and light
I see truth drawing ever nearer and it dawns upon my sight.

When we see things rightly When we apprehend the truth
And stilly, quietly it's revealed what we must do
If you turn away unchanged then you’ve never truly seen
You may recognize this right refrain you’ll not see what it means!

Behold in the light of the unseen There’s a path by faith revealed.
More real than my most holy dream- There in humility I’m healed.
In the dark and dusky autumn haze my eyes grow dim and weak
Though I strain and try to fix my gaze I’ve forgotten what I seek
I may not see eternity still I long for the taste of what will be
Touch the eyes of my blind heart that I may clearly see.
Your hidden holy righteousness as reality

Lord I may become confused by what’s before my eyes
Give me grace to ponder and in turn to realize
Lord help me then to reckon what is true!
I can trust your spirit to help me trust in You.
Give me eyes of faith I cannot see the light
Let me walk by grace though it is dark as night
As I seek your face my landscape becomes bright
When I walk by faith and not by sight!

Behold in the light of the unseen There’s a path by faith revealed.
More real than my most holy dream- There in humility I’m healed.
In the dark and dusky autumn haze my eyes grow dim and weak
Though I strain and try to fix my gaze I’ve forgotten what I seek
I may not see eternity still I long for the taste of what will be
Touch the eyes of my blind heart that I may clearly see.
Your hidden holy righteousness as reality

July 6, 2005
Anthony Foster

Rags to Riches

I’ll take off these old clothes and throw them away
The sackcloth and ashes I’ve worn
I’ll strip myself bare from these close clinging cares
They’re only fit for those who mourn.
For the right righteous raiment of one who must reign
Is prepared for the state which in Christ we attain
The clothes of the dead man are tattered and plain
They suit the old life they adorn.
From rags now to riches a new life is mine
I’ll put off the old man and claim what is mine
I’ll put on the new man and live the new way
I’ll take off the old man and cast him away.
Reborn now to live a new day.
Since rags became riches the rich became poor
Our substitute made the great switch.
He laid down his rights to share His righteous robe
Through His poverty we are rich
We can still live like we’re poor and we’re weak,
We live ‘neath our privilege in all that we seek
So we need to turn more than just the other cheek
To turn from the life that we’ve known
And choose to possess what we own.

Anthony Foster
July 6, 2005

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From the personal weblog of Anthony Foster @http://anthonyfoster.com/blog/