Monday, January 31, 2005

That grass is greener

Here's a little update on my activities in the blogosphere
(in case you are interested).

The Western blog continues to grow. We now have a few contributors and I am enjoying the luxury of seeing another's work appear for once. I'm testing out some google ads that I have signed up for. If I can generate any revenue, I will put it all back into the blog. I really would like to secure a few domains sometime but I don't have any spare change right now. The other option is that I could ask some organizations to sponsor it. That way, they could provided some space on their server and help with the domain cost and we would give them full credit. I haven't given it a lot of thought yet because I am trying to see what will happen with these ads.

Taking in more space

I just joined the Conservative Northwest Blogging Alliance, which means I am writing on their blog, Head West, Turn Right (HWTR). You will note that I have added a special links section to the left for my other writing ventures. Do check it out. Note that there will be a lot of crossposting between blogs but most of my everyday political posting will be on HWTR. Western Unraveled is meant to be more university related.

And finally...

This blog has been added to the prolife blogs listing. (linked under "Politics") That means every single post from here gets syndicated on their site (including this post). It also means I will make a greater effort to blog on life issues. In the future, I will see about getting better email contact up so people can contact me a little easier. I have tended to be a bit reclusive about email addresses. All that is past though.

Anyway, I'll see you around.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

...and pray for Iraq

It's kind of important.

The people of Iraq are in the process of their first election. If you can't find it within yourself to cry a few tears of joy for these people who are now tasting the freedom they desired, then perhaps just look on a successful election as a giant leap towards bringing our troops home in short order.

Equality...of cultures?

NOTE: I have posted a review of Mr. D'Souza's book here before, so if want to read more check it out. My apologies if you are tired of hearing about it; this post was written primarily for the Western blog.


One of the greatest errors that is consistently taught in American universities is the precept that all cultures are equal and therefore should have equal standing in the world and even our society. Harmless little thought? Hardly!

Let's look at the implications of such thinking.

First, what people need to understand is that this liberal precept is one of the primary reasons that there is so much hated for America emanating from campuses. Some of the manifestations that we often see on campus is the perpetual idolization of diversity and the need to be completely accepting as valid--to the point of literal relativism--of all viewpoints and philosophies. Let me also clarify that I don't mean that someone doesn't have the right to their viewpoint or cultural background--that's not what I mean. I mean the push for diversity is unfortunately rooted in the common belief that all cultures and views are equally right or good. This way of thinking conflicts with my core values because 1, I believe, regardless of one's rights, there is still absolute right and wrong--in other words, we have the right to be wrong--2, I do believe that America is a superpower because the values it holds are superior to other parts and countries of the world.

*liberal readers gasp in abject horror at this point*

Recommended reading on this topic is the book by Dinesh D'Souza, What's So Great About America. Before you judge the book by the title let me say yes, it is written in support of western values, but it is hardly a book of right-wing dogma. Mr. D'Souza is an Indian immigrant who has a very balanced perspective. He doesn't pull any punches in his analysis; both liberals and conservatives will find reason to squirm under his sharp, objective insight. This is a really-easy-to-read book of philosophy!

Mr. D'Souza points out that the belief that all cultures are equal is the necessary thought process that produces the dogmatic faith: that America became so powerful and influential through coercion and oppression alone. You see, if each culture is equally meritorious, there can be no getting ahead of the others without coercion--and so thinks the liberal professor. The notion that we might have earned this wealth through a superior way of life and faith is dismissed as absurd and even bigoted.

In conclusion, another spin-off of our status in the world is (duh) we are much envied by both common people of other nations and also--in a more deceitful way--the governments of our rivals. Case in point: I don't think (this is speculation as well as experience) that the average foreigner desires to emulate a Frenchman for style. On the contrary, it is the American style and way of life that is desired and sought after. One of D'Souza's points is that a liberal professor would see a this desire, give a puzzled grunt and tell him he is mistaken to desire it, because, after all, his own culture of dime-a-day wages, contaminated water, and corrupt government is just as intrinsically good as America. I can just imagine the confusion on this hypothetical foreigner's face.

Read D'Souza's book for what it's worth and appreciate what we have for a change.

Cross-posted at Western Washington Unraveled

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

War and peace

You will, I hope, excuse the usurpation of the title of a book I haven't even read. I just got home from the Whatcom County Council meeting a bit ago; I was covering it as part of a journalism assignment--not for the paper, though. The story I write up tonight is due in about 11 hours. I have a ton of material to go through and I'm afraid it may be some time before I hit the pillow again. I also have something on Wednesday night (ok, tonight) which I may or may not go to. There's a distant voice telling me that I might forget how to sleep if I'm not careful.

The council meeting was insane. You see, one of the councilmen had proposed an emergency moratorium (freeze) on building, development or subdivision in the large Lake Whatcom watershed. This would basically mean that anyone who earns a living by building primarily in that area would suffer near bankruptcy. Other's less fortunate would most certainly suffer that fate because of the land investment they have on the lake. This was all justified by questionable science about the declining water quality. The "emergency" status of the proposal was designed to cut a ton of corners and leave little room for public input or complaint.

So the short version of the meeting is that the council room was jam packed with people from both sides of the issue. From 7 to 10:30, that's all we heard about. Me and my fellow journalism students had a time of it going from person to person, getting this quote and that. The issue was finally put to a vote and it failed by one. After that, they continued to discuss the issue in terms of the next step and finally moved I did too.

I don't know if they are still there working on things this very minute, but it wouldn't surprise me.

When I got home and got out of the car, I noticed that the night was unusually mild and the moon was shining bright. I decided to take a few minutes to let my ravaged mind settle and I sat down on a rock overlooking the cranberry fields in back of the house. It was good to sit there and try to bring life back into focus after being so saturated with contention and political wrangling and then ask God's grace as I faced the rest of the week. I had a little time of devotions while I sat there in the moonlight still having all tools of my trade packed away in my pockets--a recorder here in this pocket with a pen, and a pad in the other pocket.

And life goes on...

Friday, January 21, 2005

Is this fast?

I've often trumpeted both here and on the Western Unraveled blog about the amazing new media force of bloggers that have new power over our world of information. I did this only for the sake of my own interest in observing it and hoping that others would take advantage of the cutting edge info that can be disseminated through the blogosphere.

Little did I know then, that I would be caught up in a do or die political snowball of blogging action.

My other blog, the Western blog, is starting to fulfill its purpose in a small way. I've been able to bring campus absurdity to light especially this past week, when it seemed like there was something to write about every hour, the only limiting factor being the time issue. I am not supposed to be posting right now because I NEED to get this article (another absurdity I haven't been able to mention) done and sent off for tomorrow.

I am still the only writer on the Western blog, though, and that kind of sticks in my craw but I'm hoping against hope that I will have some sort of invitation drafted for potential writers in a couple days. In the mean time, things have been happening! Some of the good folks at have mentioned me on that site and blogrolled me on their personal blogs. This has been a good lift for traffic.

But wait there's more.

I have gotten in contact with a blogger from Pacific Lutheran U, the College Republican president in that neck of the woods; He referred to me a writer for the Seattle Times NEXT section, who contacted me looking for background information on my blog. I've gathered he's doing a piece on Washington blogging. So, come the 30th, the blog may be listed in the Times. The writer's name is Chris Collins.

That's the latest on that. There's a million concerns that I have regarding it, but I can't help but be optimistic at the response so far.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Pineapple express?

50 below zero is cold. I know there are places in the US that have recently clocked in at that number so I really shouldn't act like we have any big claim to fame here in the Great [moderate] Northwest.

But think again. Isn't it significant when, in a matter of two or three days, the temperature changes from 20 degrees to 60? If it isn't, than I don't know what is.

Sunday: there was a half an inch of ice covering everything--including the snow.
Monday: The ice all melted and it rained.
Tuesday: it rained!

I got up at 7 to take out the trash--it had been blowing hard all night. I stumbled up to the garage, opened the door and felt what seemed like a hot breath on my face! It was one of the most exhilarating thing to feel after getting so used to the freezing weather. The 35 mph wind was warmer than the garage! The rest of the day, while on campus, I could face into the gale without any kind of the chill that so often accompanies the winter wind. Today's high temp in Bellingham is listed at 63 degrees!

Tonight it started raining again, which is fine. I'm plenty used to that part.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Reactionary 'neutrals'

It's been about two years since I was working for the newspaper at Whatcom Community College here in Bellingham, Washington. I remember one day...

There was some whispers about an important board meeting. I don't recall if I was an editor yet so I couldn't tell you whether I should have known about it before hand or not. Anyway, the meeting finally came about--it included all of the staff, and the topic was announced.

It seems, one of the pro-life groups in the area had submitted an advertisement--an insert for the paper. Our advertising manager had done the right thing and treated it like any other insert. Then someone else found out about it--they dissented and pushed to drop the ad. The adviser and the editor called up the pro-life group and said we had decided not to run it. The group was understandably upset and made some comments about free speech violations--probably not the best language to use, considering that the first amendment really doesn't have much to do with paid advertisements. The threats from the group did make the editor and adviser sit up and think, though. That's when they called the meeting; it was an odd course of action especially since they didn't seem to mind making up their own mind before the group made a stink.

They explained the situation to us all. By this time, the adds had all been printed up--therefore if we had decided to drop it (and here was a real threat) the group was going to force us to pay for all the prints that they did--which was significant. They passed around a copy of the insert in question. The editors said they were in favor of running it because it didn't seem to have the usual "graphic images;" so a vote was taken and the ad ran.

I mention this story because it was a very original feeling to be on the other side of the fence from a pro-life group. It was revealing to see the excuses the "neutral" editors made for their natural reactions. I'm glad they actually did sit down and think about what they had almost done--cancel a paid advertisement based on one person's bigoted complaint.

'Pro-choice' political correctness

On a similar note, I can recall another time at Whatcom. It was my very first quarter there and it was during an essay topic brainstorming session.

The instructor stood there next to the board writing down every reasonable topic as it was called. I remember it well because, as a joke, I called out "cow tipping"... He started to write it up there and got almost all the way through before he laughed and erased it.

Next to me there sat a young lady--another running-start student. She was obvious about most of her views so in one sense it didn't come as any surprise when she called out "pro-choice" as an essay topic. What did surprise me was the fact that she didn't call the topic in the general terms that I was used to hearing. Instead of just saying "abortion," she just blurted out "pro-choice," perhaps without realizing how odd it sounded. The instructor seemed to think so too for he wrote "abortion" up on the board anyway.

Since then, I've discovered why there is such a strong push for exclusive use of sanitized language like "pro-choice" and "reproductive rights." It's all a matter of hiding from the truth. It's a fearful thing to hide like that and I've heard people do it over and over again. In fact, it's a rare moment when you can get a "pro-choice" activist to say whether they believe that life begins at conception or not. Either they will not answer, or they will say they don't know. They will change the subject, repeat their comfortable themes about reproductive rights and the right of a woman to do with her own body whatever she wants.

It's a sad state of mind in which supporters of abortion must find themselves. Imagine supporting abortion and never admitting it to anyone's face--never saying outright, "I support abortion." What kind of torture must that be?

By contrast, former presidential candidate, John Kerry actually did admit that he believes life begins at conception. And yet, despite admitting that, and his own church's creeds, he still came back with his supposed belief in a woman's right to do with her body as she would--a good example of honest moral bankruptcy.

(cross-posted at Western Washington Unraveled)

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Concerning blog titles

There's been a title change here--in case you hadn't notice by now. Many haven't considering the fact it was just last night that this blog changed from "and the Lamb is its light" to simply "Meneltarma."

Need a reason?

I liked my previous title. It was meant to go hand in hand with the verses up there--it comes from the same chapter in Revelation. It was a meaningful title. However, I think Meneltarma, which is one of my favorite Tolkien images of the Kingdom of God on earth (or in simpler terms: the Church), deserved a place in more than just the URL. It was always meant to go with the verses, but I am just making the connection a little more direct.

It's a versatile, simple and practical title as well. Just one word, and I don't think anyone will care too much if they don't grasp my reasons for using it. While my brothers and sisters in Christ will understand my meaning, others will simply look on it as another spin-off from my budding Tolkien scholarship.

Giles for our examination

There's always some "hot, new, conservative columnist" out there. The good thing is that there are usually good reasons they are so successful. Doug Giles is one such man. I haven't read any of his books--he has one or two--but I've kept slightly abreast of his columns.

Let me just say that he is the only conservative columnist I've run into with covenantal reformed beliefs. I know that because he is always speaking in those terms and he is highly critical of the evangelical world. Naturally, this means he and I have much in common. However, there are certain other extras in his theological bent that I am sure would tend to differentiate my views from his--I'm thinking in eschatological terms...

This also goes to show you just how transparent he is about what he thinks and believes.

I don't have any arguments with his latest column. The irony of Giles is that many would look for his style among people like Ann Coulter, but his content is something more akin C.S. Lewis or R.C. Sproul. So yes, read his latest and enjoy it for the truth as well as the fire that is Doug Giles.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Mission aborted

Tonight was supposed to be Skagit Squadron's banquet--I didn't go.

It could be a long story if I don't word it right.

The banquet itself was going to be fun and this couldn't have been a better time for me, considering the long weekend and all. Alas though... I was going to carpool from Bellingham with a fellow Western student friend of mine--and member of the squadron. I ended up getting to his apartment late for reason that need not be disclosed. It didn't actually matter, in fact, as I discovered when I arrived. He opened the door and gave me the news that all the people from Whatcom County weren't going to go. The reason was a new layer of weather that hit the roads in Skagit County pretty bad. The banquet was held on Whidbey Island mind you, but Skagit is the path enroute. So, I chatted with him at his place for a bit and went home on the now very slick roads--yes, it had started to snow again here while I was in Bellingham. What a wonderful world this is!

I'll survive the disappointment well enough, I'm sure.

Break in the action

Well, it's a three-day weekend with no story On the other hand. I do have a lot of Thomas Hobbes to wade through before Wednesday, so what better time to get a jump on that?

The Western Front put out it's third issue on Friday, and that marked the first issue that included something from me. It wasn't much, just a photo of an accident on one of the campus roads...kind of a comic relief actually--it was a campus "public safety" three-wheeler. Something about the ice I guess. *grin*

That's where I stand for school. Those aren't the only things I'm working on class-wise, but I (and you would too I'm sure) prefer to mention just the important things.

Tomorrow, we are going to (hopefully) hit the ground running in youth group, for conference planning. There's a lot of work to do between now and August. Just as long as tomorrow remains the Lord's Day and I don't end up stressing out like I'm prone to do.


Sunday, January 09, 2005

Tower analysis

I've been fairly impressed and more than a little gratified that one of my favorite publication, World Magazine, tends have big Tolkien fans on staff. My only complaint is that they are not really the Tolkien "scholars" I prefer to read. However, they have done a more than adequate job of elevating Tolkien's work for the Christian communities to see and read.

I just came upon Gene Edward Veith's recent piece (from World) regarding the cultural significance of the "two towers" in the Lord of the Rings. He does an outstanding job. The issues he deals with were explained in greater detail in Dinesh D'Souza's book, What's So Great About America--also a recommended read. Here's my review from the archives.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Meneltarma on tour

UPDATE: photos are now posted here.

I must apologize for not covering the recent holidays very well. To be honest and forthright, it was a trial to be able to do so--for the same reason I haven't gotten much reading done since finishing Schaeffer's Escape from Reason. My next Schaeffer title would have been The God Who is There because I was given to understand that the book I just finished serves as a good jump into this next one. Unfortunately, that jump did not happen. Nor was I able to delve into the C.S. Lewis book Mom got me for Christmas, Till We Have Faces. To top it all off (not really), Nathan got a hardback of Tolkien's The Silmarillion which he accidentally left my bedroom! What a frustration. That is the crucial book I would need to read in order to solidify my budding Tolkien scholarship and I don't have the time to grab it up.

And while I'm on the subject of Tolkien, I must now go on to describe the form an nature of our New Years celebration.

My good friend Jackie, who is a Tolkien scholar of the next-to-highest order, has in the past three years invited members of my family over for formal viewings of each DVD edition of the LOTR movie trilogy as they were released over the years. We also went to see each of the theater releases at various times together; in the case of The Return of the King, we all went on opening day, most of us in costume. It was a grand adventure and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

After this, "line party" theater opening of the ROTK, Jackie continued to plan. After all, there was still an extended edition to be released at the end of the year. She made sure we didn't throw those costumes away and made us promise we would continue working on them.

So the time drew near and costume making seemed to become part of the holiday festivities. My sister Anna worked for countless hours on my costume, her costume, Beka's costume, and, since he was going to be in town, Nathan's costume! I naturally became the ultimate critic of everything, predicting at regular intervals that this or that about my outfit was just not going work. I think I generally made myself a nuisance. My outfit changed from last year a little--for the better.

The most significant thing that we were going to do different was the purchase of wigs for Nathan and I. Yeah...ahem, it was originally an idea of mine.

Meanwhile, Jackie stayed hard at work. Taking her hostess tasks as seriously as ever, she planned the food to be an accurate reflection of her hobbit character. Her house was christened something very appropriate and proper invitations were issued to those she knew already would be making it anyway. The evening was set on New Years Eve so we were able to time things properly for the dual purpose of the evening.

And so, the evening was a hit. Those in attendance were treated to a sumptuous meal, a middle earth trivia game, a costume photo-op and of course, the extended edition of the Return of the King.

I do plan on posting some photos when I get them. I went as a Ranger. Aragorn being the only prototype for examination meant that I had to grease that wig something fierce. The heavy gel worked the best; I should have used it in the first place. Instead, I ended up with a weird mix of mousse, hairspray and hair gel--I had a very tough time with that mix of odors constantly falling around my face... *gag* Needless to say, the wig was saved for the photo-op; that's all. Biggest problem with the wig was that we cut it a little too short.

My thanks to all who made happen--especially Jackie and Anna.

Still learning

Well, some things still come hard. I just don't know what I will do if I continue to stress out about every story I'm assigned. If every time I trip on a snag I go ballistic and run screaming around in circles, how long may I expect to continue till my hair turns to a distinguished salt-n-pepper gray?

Is that my personality--to over-react like some child who is sure the monster will come out from under his bed as soon as his eyes are shut? Personality--I rather hope not. It is a "bent" of mine to be sure; a habit could also be blamed.

Yet still, just as faithfully as I should have grown to expect by now, God works a beautiful pattern out of the mess I love to see. I know most of the individual failings that put me there by heart--there is no doubt about that. I bang my head against the wall, pace around in circles and try not to sound impatient on the phone with interviewees. Yet, in the midst of my latest fever of chaotic panic, God made Himself heard--as He always does. I was without a needed interview last night. I went to bed, knowing that in all likelihood there would be no one available on Saturday. That would have been a nasty thought to sleep on if it weren't that I also remembered that my Father doesn't deal in likelihoods. He deals with us as His children and what is best for His children is always granted no matter what the likelihood. I slept well last night.

The next morning at 8:30 I awoke to a phone call from one of the best possible contacts I could have gotten--someone I was told was out of town. He told me he had listened to a somewhat impatient sounding voice mail and decided to call me up before he left town... Talk about humbling. You can be sure that all trace of impatience had disappeared by this time.

I'm learning...

...that living as a covenant child of God should mean fewer gray hairs at my age.

Friday, January 07, 2005

The dictates of necessity

This pause... so I can get a few words out that aren't related to something in a feature on tsunamis or a news piece about transit. I've run up against a deadline with one less interview than needed--and the weekend just started so that means I won't get the least not now, when I need it...

...but that's not what I came here for.

I'm back here on the meneltarma to contemplate. During today's encounter with frustration, my mind flitted (as it is wont to do) over the bigger picture, or something my mind thought was the bigger picture. A voice told me that I really don't need to do this--I don't really like it anyway, so what was the big idea, putting myself through the toughest class at the university--and for what? It's only going to get worse, the voice said. Just look at what others do when they reach the end of the road you are on. There are other options, the voice said.

The voice sounded wonderful and exotic. I do have other options, I thought. But that's where the voice dimmed.

Other options? I have other options to be sure, and none of them are practical without finishing at Western what I came there to do. It's not like I'm some kind of anomaly of a student who can whip in and out of majors and career choices without any thought at all. If I had that talent, I wouldn't be thinking thoughts about change in the first place because I could handle what I'm doing now with no sweat.

But this was only the first week of this quarter and I've been thinking it was going to be rough all along. The roughest so far? Yup. Thought about that, contemplated it... So why did this come as such surprise?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Misguided zeal

The orange ribbons for cars are hot off the presses it seems. People are catching on. The Dems are fighting back, of course. They needn't worry though, if this site is an example of how we expect to persuade fellow Washingtonians that we are not partisan hacks playing crybaby.

When I was done scrolling down the first page, I began to wonder if this was a Democratic Party plant trying to sabotage the revote effort. This has to be the worst combination of rant and color clash that I have ever seen in one example!

Just look at this excerpt:

8 Questions to help you define your political orientation

Are you: “4” or Against
1. Marriage = 1 man & 1 Woman?
2. Pro Life?
3. Small Government?
4. Tax Cuts?
5. Control on Immigration?
6. Leaving God in the Pledge?
7. Foundation in morality?
8. Limiting liberal activist Judges
ability to Legislate from the bench!

If you are “4” all these points you are Conservative

If you are against 1,2,3,7 & 8 you are a liberal.

If a person is liberal and claims to be a Christian, they are in conflict with a biblical values system!

5 Actions you can take To have an impact on Government and your Future!!

1. Register to Vote!
2. Get informed through conservative talkradio and watch Fox News!
3. Find out Who your Law Makers and Judges are!
4. Program your District Law Makers into your phone!
5. Register and volunteer with and spread the word.

For one the language is appallingly ambiguous. Then they make an arbitrary list of conservative values (as if we can be put into a bottle to be sold on the shelf). They start making what I can only call philosophical arguments based on nothing (whether true or not, this is hardly the place or time). Since when do I have to watch FOX News to have an impact on my future?!


While the base of revote supporters are by default Republican, we still have to deal with the stigma that we are just sore losers--a favorite accusation of ours when the Dems were behind. This site does everything in the world to keep that image alive. Mr. Rossi did not say he is fighting this because he thinks he is the winner and that he ought to be Governor. He said he is fighting because the system is in shambles--and most people in Washington agree. The method employed by this site reminds me of someone advertising hats at a Quaker gathering and then attempting to sell guns to them.

Why do we have to act like this is simply party politics?

Visit the site if you want but don't buy anything from them. Buy real orange ribbons from your local drugstore!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Failure, vanity and grace

In the bigger scheme of things, I can't help but dream that there is something more to my life--I suppose every good American thinks the same way. We imagine that there is something out there to add some significance to our time here on planet earth. For most, the thoughts are vague. Even college students, people who are supposed to know what they want out of life, know how little they know about what's ahead. I know this is the case because most of them pick their major very late in their collegiate studies. I believe this is because, while they may imagine they are accomplishing and building something significant out of an otherwise meaningless life, they still can't bring that image into focus. The majority of people I have met in college don't pick a major till at least their junior year. If they do before then, they inevitably change it at least once or twice.

I am human, so I won't deny having those vague notions of grandeur and significance. And please don't think me as shallow as to believe that it is wrong to change a major or wait to declare--far be it from me to generalize so! After all, while I did pick my major my freshman year--in my second quarter in fact--that doesn't mean I am any more visionary than my peers. I would hazard to guess that I am, in many ways, even less thoughtful than many who wait till their senior year.


I think there is a healthy balance of confidence and vagueness that can only be achieved through a proper understanding of my place in this world, and more importantly, in God's master plan. The wonderful thing about this understanding, is the way it claims priority over my own indwelling thoughts. I can still think shallow thoughts, and yet there is the ever-present glory of God's ownership in my life that supersedes all vanity. How can I yearn for the swine's food when a feast waits at my Father's table?

My Father is no ordinary Father. When he bought me, He did not leave me with nothing. He did not simply cancel my debt of love that I owed to Him. If that had been the case, the debt would simply return. No, indeed, he also credited me with the love of a perfect Son, a Son Who has loved from eternity, Who can never fail.

But that is not all he has done for this adopted one. He has given me His Spirit. Through the Spirit, He works a great work: I now desire to be a Son.

Now, I desire to live as I was created: to Glorify Him as His image bearer and Son and to enjoy His fellowship for all eternity. What small trifles of this life that would distract, may only now seem like rusty tools and lukewarm water. They only hold their value in that they are given to me so that I may work in God's Kingdom that which I am called to work. These hands: may they write what is honoring to His Name and edifying to His Church. This mind: my it never cease to guide these hands toward ever clearer harmony in their work. This heart: may it be kept with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. There is nothing left untouched. All that there is, is because He is.

I still fail.

I think of my failings; I think and ponder my future failings. I know when I fail, I fail my family, my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ... I fail, more importantly, to live as the image bearer I am. I corrupt the image of God when I am not holy as He is holy--a fact often forgotten amid my desire for approval. I think about all the time I stress out about failing to measure up to the standards of those I know and love and respect.

Even last week, after failing to meet a deadline, I worried more about the way I looked in such a situation. I worried about future trust and professionalism--both certainly important. However, thinking deeper, I should have been more concerned about the fact my editor was a sister in Christ and I was not displaying a Christ-like work ethic to someone who expected as much.


It's hard to confront such thoughts and then move on without feeling like the titanic is sinking under your feet. The stomach just won't return to the lower abdomen nor the heart back up to the chest. The hands won’t stop feeling like those of a forger and a fraud. I sit down to write long sections with questionable value or intent—sections like this one.


A light comes on. Grace is more than just God's gift through his Son's death, for it is through this justification of His death that I now enjoy full sonship. For the child of God, there is an infinite river of grace. How could it be otherwise? I am so blind to recognizing it for what it is worth. It was in a conversation, in fact, that it hit me today: I sometimes don't want to fully recognize God's grace in my life out of a selfish fear that God will diminish it when I finally do recognize it and embrace it fully. How foolish of me! God does want me to see the depth of His grace, for then I would enjoy its fullness all the more. God is not a man, and will not change.

I do grieve for those I hurt by my failings. I would that all my failings were behind me, or better yet, undone. How much better though to embrace God's perfect antidote for my sinful shortcomings and drink of that refreshing stream--that stream which alone, is above all my failure and vanity.


Update on rumor

As much as the previous post made my day--so far it looks premature. Drudge has apparently done some reporting and officials have all but completely dicredited the rumor. From Drudge Report:

Tue Jan 04 2005 11:18:47 ET

U.S. military and intelligence sources are denying print and broadcast reports that terrorist Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi has been arrested in Iraq, MSNBC reported Tuesday.

MSNBC said senior U.S. military and intelligence sources told it the reports are not true. A newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, al-Bayane, reported in its Tuesday edition that the Jordanian-born terrorist had been arrested in Baqouba, Iraq. Iraqi Kurdistan radio also reported the arrest of al-Zarqawi.

The U.S. military in December said al-Zarqawi likely is in the Baghdad area.

Unconfirmed rumor

Being a Journalism major means that there are some things that are a no-no like publishing unconfirmed rumors. The good thing is that blogging is not held to these standards. Even better, I will let you know when they are unconfirmed rumors that I am spreading.

A prolific tipster friend of mine sent this clip to me. Its claimed source being a Russian News Agency. A quick google search of the headline leads to the China Daily... and a few other sources of questionable dependability.

The rumor is that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been arrested! This would be huge and if confirmed, would be as big or bigger than news of Saddam's arrest. al-Zarqawi's leadership has proved vital in keeping terrorist activity in condition. If he were to be captured, it might not end the "insurgency," but it would certainly be a blow to al-Qaeda.

Here's the UNCONFIRMED clipping:

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi reportedly arrested in Iraq

04.01.2005, 07.18

DUBAI, January 4 (Itar-Tass) - Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, whom the US occupation authorities declared to be the "target number one" in Iraq, has been arrested in the city of Baakuba, the Emirate newspaper al-Bayane reported on Tuesday referring to Kurdish sources. Al-Zarqawi, leader of the terrorist group Al-Tawhid Wa'al-Jihad, was recently appointed the director of the Al-Qaeda organization in Iraq.

The newspaper's correspondent in Baghdad points out that a report on the seizure of the terrorist, on whom the US put a bounty of 10 million dollars, was also reported by Iraqi Kurdistan radio, which at one time had been the first to announce the arrest of Saddam Hussein.

There have been no official reports about the arrest of the terrorist. Al-Zarqawi, 38, a Jordanian, whose real name is Ahmad al-Khalayleh, aims to turn Iraq into a "new Afghanistan". According to Arab press data, Al-Tawhid Wa'al-Jihad group has divided Iraq into several emirates. The group's independent subdivisions at a strength of 50 to 500 militants operate in the cities of Al-Falluja, Al-Qaim, Diala, and Samarra.

The personnel of the group are on the whole 1,500-strong and include Iraqis and citizens of Arab and Islamic countries. There are demolition experts and missilemen among them.

The group has depots of weapons and explosives in various parts of the country. It intends to frustrate the upcoming parliamentary elections that are scheduled for the end of this month. Al-Tawhid Wa'al-Jihad threatens to do away with Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and members of the interim government.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Heroes of Mosul

I don't know the Dustin who wrote the letter, but we have a mutual friend who sent it to me just now. It's amazing how similar these kinds of stories can be! All are unique of course, but they share common elements which are heart-wrenching to say the least. This one is close to home--the common friend aspect and the mention of common interests (Tolkien) always tend to bring things into new perspective.

The following is an email we received from Dustin today. It's a tribute to his captain that was killed last Tuesday in Mosul.


Dear Family and Friends,

I grieve...for a family that has lost a father. For myself, I've lost a friend. For an army company that has lost a commander. For a nation that has lost a hero.

I first met Captain Jacobsen about seven months ago. He was inspecting the barracks before signing for the building. He came to my room and noticed that I was a fan of The Lord Of The Rings. He did his inspection quickly and then started talking about the movies and books. We visited for 10-15 minutes, during which I told him that I was disappointed that we were supposed to leave for Iraq before the extended edition of the third movie was available. He told me that he had asked his wife to send it to him as soon as she could and that when he got it we would have a movie marathon.

A few weeks later, he and the first sergeant decided to play 2 on 2 basketball against guys in the company for the right to park in their reserved parking places. My friend Kris and I were the first challengers. It was a good game, with several lead changes, but in the end Captain Jacobsen's 6'5" frame was the difference, and we lost. There was one incident, however, that shed some light on his character. We both went up for a rebound and I got the ball, but in doing so, I hit his nose with my elbow on my way down. He ignored it until I stopped and asked if he was ok. He quickly wiped the blood away with a finger, looked at, wiped it on his shirt and said, "let's play". He didn't get upset, didn't make a big deal about it, he just got back down to business.

A few weeks ago, we started working out together. That first time, we lifted for about an hour. I pushed him so hard that he decided that, as soon as we were done lifting, we were going to run. I hate running. I spent a good portion of the rest of lifting trying to convince him that running after lifting wasn't a good idea. Amazingly(ha ha), he saw through my facade. So we ran. On the way back to our rooms, the water we had drank decided that we didn't need it anymore. It's a special bond you share with someone that you throw up with.

Since we have been in Iraq, Captain Jacobsen has led from the front, without fail. Before every mission he would have a talk with the whole company, telling us exactly what the plan was, asking if there were any questions, encouraging us, and then praying with us. He was a man who embodied the phrase 'For God and Country.'

When word reached me that he had been injured in the chow hall, I thought "It's Captain 'J', he'll be fine". He was one of the few men that I looked up to, he couldn't die. About 30 minutes later, my platoon sergeant called the squad leaders into his room. His eyes were red and brimming with tears. In a choked voice he said, "Captain Jacobsen is dead. He's not coming back". Suddenly, I realized that I was looking at the floor with tears streaming down my face.

In the sorrowful week that followed, we were told that it had been a suicide bomber that attacked the chow hall. We learned that over 20 had died, 2 in our company, and almost 70 were injured, including my roommate who will have a piece of metal, the size and shape of a large marble, in his knee for the rest of his life.

The memorial service was held yesterday. Through blurry eyes, I saw hundreds of grown men cry and hug each other. We are saddened by the loss of the dead and angered by the means of their death. The cowardice of this attack is unrivaled, yet I despair that we will never have our vengeance against those responsible. The best we can do is fight on with the memory of those we lost close to our hearts. Please remember them in your thoughts and prayers.

Also remember that all who paid the ultimate price are hero's.