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Archive for March, 2010

Re: Your support for the recent Health Care bill:

Mr. Cooper, I was thoroughly disappointed by your support of and voting for the Health Care Bill. I have several main concerns.

First and primarily, support for Innocent Life is the critical issue for my support of any public legislation and/or official. This is the threshold that must be crossed before anything else may be considered. This bill will take my tax dollars and use them to fund abortion, an immoral and horrifying assault on the most basic of God-given liberties. Because you have supported abortion by voting for this bill, I could never support nor vote for you.

Second, this bill expands the power and control that the federal government has over my life and my family’s. Because you have voted for legislation which severely encroaches on our liberties as Americans, I can never support nor vote for you.

Third, on a purely pragmatic level, this bill will eventually result in health care being funded and run by the government. Our republic is the best form of governance in human history. But NO government has ever run anything efficiently. The private sector has its own flaws, but it does operate an economy quite efficiently and flexibly. I would have whole-heartedly supported health care reform that expanded the role and responsibilities of private citizens and companies. However, this legislation removes private citizens and companies from any responsible role and places that fully in the government. Because you have voted for legislation that strikes at the heart of the free enterprise system as well as subjugates personal responsibility, I can never support nor vote for you.

Mr. Cooper, my family and I moved to Tennessee just this past summer. We came here without any preconceived notions about the politicians in this area. You have proven that you do not support innocent life, that you do not understand the basic liberties that our country was founded upon, and that you do not understand the proper role of government in our society. Because of these key principles, I could never support nor vote for you.

The only redemption you could possibly achieve is to immediately reverse your course and begin working for the complete repeal of this monstrous legislation.

Sincerely,

David King

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George Grant at Gantian Florilegium: posted eleven biblical responses to the mess handed to us.

Doug Wilson at Blog and Mablog: A ten-point theology of resistance. #4 The greatest danger is successful resistance that is credited to conservatives. #9 Repent of anxiety, for God loves a cheerful warrior.

Abraham Lincoln: “It is the eternal struggle between these two principles–right and wrong–throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity, and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It isthe same spirit that says, “You toil and work and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.” No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.”

Reply at Alton, Illinois, in the Seventh Debate with Douglas, October 15, 1858

Abraham Lincoln, pt. 2: “We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name, liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names–liberty and tyranny.”

Address at Sanitary Fair in Baltimore, Maryland, April 18, 1864.

Powerline posts the cuts in ‘healthcare’ that the British government is contemplating. How queezy do you feel at the thought of a govmint official deciding what, when and how much medical attention you should receive?

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Russell Moore: So if what you’re afraid of is a politician or a policy or a culture or the future of Western civilization, don’t give up the conviction but give up the fear. Work for justice. Oppose evil. But do it so that your opponents will see not fear but trust, optimism, and affection.

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Gideon decided it was time to get his first stitches, so he tripped and fell into the corner of the piano bench. About a half inch cut on the outside. A cut on the inside of his mouth from a tooth. Drs. Tim and Stephanie Eidsen met Jill at their office at 10pm on Friday to give him four stitches. Thank you Tim and Stephanie!

He put on his 'misery face' for the camera; he actually quit crying pretty quickly.

The morning after

Hopefully it will leave a small scar to be remembered by!

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Ann Coulter – give freedom a chance. “I apologize for using the terms “Harry Reid” and “Viagra” in the same sentence. I promise that won’t happen again.”

Peggy Noonan“Never take the country down the road to Demon Pass.”

Tim Challies – Tremendous advice to men,  married and single, connecting sexual integrity to the truth that Christ is on The Throne.

Randy Alcorn“the price of sin is not just death, but eternal death. No human being can transcend what is eternal, except Christ. So I think, in the space of six hours, He paid a qualitatively eternal price for us on the cross. The extent of that price is reflected in the permanent scars on His body.”

Ray Ortlund – the church needs “quiet fanatics”

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Doug Wilson wrote a really outstanding column, Sharkey for President (where does he come up with these names), traveling a path from The Lord of the Rings to Romans 13 to Russia circa 1980’s to our own current tortured government. His premise is that all governments rule by “consent of the governed.” “Under tyrannies and despotisms, whether hard or soft, the rulers can wake up on any given morning and discover that the consent just evaporated.” He adds some helpful insight to our current, appalling display of governmental hubris.

However, as I read this column, my thoughts turned to eternity. What glories it will be when all our governments will be wholly submitted to the one all-wise, all-good, all-powerful King. And what glories it will be when He will receive the whole-hearted “consent of the governed.”

Imagine a time when there will be no grumbling about government and taxation and regulation. What ever will we talk about? It’s going to happen. Imagine government representatives who genuinely “serve the people.” Imagine a time when Ronald Reagan’s quip “We’re from the government; we’re here to help you” no longer gives rise to a queezy feeling of dread, but joy and delight. It is going to happen. Imagine a system of laws that perfectly balances freedom and control. Imagine a population that has the laws of the government written on the tablets of their hearts and joyfully embraces both their letter and their spirit. It is going to happen.

Even so come Lord Jesus.

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This from Tim Challies:

How To Review a Book

I am often asked for pointers on writing book reviews and recently realized that, to my recollection, I’ve never written on the topic. That may be because I consider myself quite a poor book reviewer. I got into writing reviews (over 500 book reviews ago now) by circumstance more than skill; I had a blog, I read a lot, and book reviews just started to happen. Yet I am aware that I am not a great reviewer. Read the Times or a theological journal and you will encounter a completely different skill level in reviewers.

Having said that, I think I am able to write reviews that appeal to a particular audience. And in that way at least, I’ve been successful. So today let me share just a few pointers for those who are considering writing reviews for a medium similar to this one.

Know Your Audience

As I said a moment ago, any success I’ve had owes more to writing for a defined audience than in great skill. I know who reads this site and I try to write about books that will be of interest to that kind of reader. If my IQ was about 100 points higher and if I wrote for Themelios I might read and review Revitalizing Theological Epistemology: Holistic Evangelical Approaches to the Knowledge of God. As it is, though, I know who I am and I know who reads this web site and I try to review books accordingly. Almost by definition, the people who read this site share at least some of my interests and so what is of interest to me is of interest to them. That’s part of the beauty of a blog.

So know your audience. Know the kind of book they will want to read and then anticipate the kind of questions they will want answered before they consider reading that book. Here are the types of questions I tend to answer:

What’s the Point?

An author will typically not wait very long before offering a defense of his book’s existence. He will most often say “This is why I have written this book.” I seek to communicate that information within my review. So, for example, in my recent review of The Masculine Mandate I quoted the author as he said, “My aim in writing this book is to help men to know and fulfill the Lord’s calling as it is presented so clearly to us in God’s Word.” It’s usually just that simple. But that little bit of information is very helpful to the reader. And you’d be surprised how often reviewers neglect to include it.

Who Is It For?

As an author defines the purpose for his book, he also tends to define his audience. This is not always the case as some books are written for just about anyone (think, for example, of Malcolm Gladwell’s books); but most books do have a defined audience. Again, from my review of The Masculine Mandate: “Richard Phillips writes that his new book The Masculine Mandate ‘is written for Christian men who not only don’t want to lose that precious biblical understanding, but who want to live out the calling to true manliness God has given us.'”

What Does He Say?

Once I’ve covered the purpose of the book and its intended audience, I tend to offer a summary of what the author communicates. To do this I sometimes pick out just a few of his more substantial points or I may trace his outline, moving chapter by chapter or part by part. In just a few paragraphs I want to offer a summary of the complete book, giving enough to be interesting but not so much that it becomes burdensome. Two or three paragraphs is often sufficient here.

Why Does It Matter?

Before I wrap up the review, I want to help people understand what sets this book apart and what makes it unique. This is often the most important part of the review. In almost every case the book will have some close competition, so it is important to offer evidence of what makes it different from the others. This is a good time to discuss a few of the author’s very good or very bad points, to agree with him, to quibble with him or to offer up a wholly different perspective. If he says anything outrageously good or outrageously bad, here is the place to bring that out.

What Do You Think?

Reviews are, by their very nature, subjective. An author of a review cannot entirely remove himself from it. Ultimately, many readers are looking less for a summation of the book’s content than they are looking for the opinion of the reviewer. They simply want to know, “Should I read it or not?” Many readers will do little more than skip to the bottom of the review to find that information (which is one of the reasons I avoid star ratings or other easy tip-offs that would allow people to not bother reading the review). So I generally try to offer my own opinion, saying who should read this book and why (or who should not read it and why). At 10MillionWords I’ve gotten into the habit of closing each review with “Verdict: Read it if…”

Mix It Up

Having said all of this, I find it best not to follow any single structure too rigidly. There are some review styles that call for a kind of stylized rigidity (see PluggedIn‘s movie reviews as an example) and that is well and good. But unless you have to write within a certain structure, it is probably best to vary things at least occasionally.

There is also value in offering reviews of a variety of kinds of books, a variety of genres. Again, this will depend on the context for those reviews; a theological journal will likely only print reviews of theological books. But often at a blog or in a magazine you will have freedom to try something very different. Know your audience and feel free to tell them about books that are, for some reason, particularly interesting to you, even if they are somewhat unusual.

Logistics

Finally, just a few words about logistics. In terms of length, go with “just long enough.” Communicate what you need to communicate but be wary of going too long. This is particularly true when writing for an online publication where people are accustomed to skimming more than reading. A little too short is probably better than a little too long. Also, it’s often a good idea to add a “buy it” link at the end of the review, pointing to Amazon or another relevant bookstore. If you are recommending a book and people are going to buy it anyway, you may as well pocket a few cents for referring them.

I don’t normally quote someone else at this length, but I need to be reminded of this regularly.

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