Sunday, February 27, 2011

George Will: High Speed to Insolvency -- Why liberals love trains.

From here:
To progressives, the best thing about railroads is that people riding them are not in automobiles, which are subversive of the deference on which progressivism depends. Automobiles go hither and yon, wherever and whenever the driver desires, without timetables. Automobiles encourage people to think they—unsupervised, untutored, and unscripted—are masters of their fates. The automobile encourages people in delusions of adequacy, which make them resistant to government by experts who know what choices people should make.
Read it all.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

No soul ever gets it right

I was driving through South Carolina the other day and heard the Indigo Girls singing "Galileo" on Charleston's 105.5 FM, "The Bridge." I once had the pleasure of meeting the Indigo Girls' Emily Saliers, whose father, Don Saliers, is a theology professor at Emory University's Candler School of theology. (If you watch the video, Emily is the redhead.) This was several years ago, when "Uncle John's Band" and "Closer to Fine" were the only songs of theirs I had heard. Galileo is a catchy song—great harmony, nice rhythm, and a clean, acoustic sound. But the lyrics are something else.

...and then you had to bring up reincarnation
over a couple of beers the other night;
and now I'm serving time for mistakes
made by another in another lifetime.

How long till my soul gets it right?
Can any human being ever reach that kind of light?
I call on the resting soul of Galileo
king of night vision, king of insight.

Now maybe the Indigo Girls are just playing with ideas—entertainers have been known to do that. But—pardon my bluntness—reincarnation has always struck me as being one of the most futile attempts to explain the inadequacy and frustration human beings feel as a result of the whole cycle of sin, guilt, and quest for redemption that everyone (in every culture) experiences in some form or another.

The Apostle Paul expressed this same frustration when he wrote: "So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:21-24)

It is also what Paul meant when he wrote that "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). So in answer to the question, "How long till my soul gets it right?" the bad news is that no soul ever gets it right.

Fortunately, that is not all Paul has to say in Romans 3: "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

And later he says, "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). That is the GOOD NEWS—that while no soul ever gets it right, we don't have to! God loves the world so much that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). God's Son has gotten it right for us, so that we are not trapped in a cycle of death and rebirth, but can have eternal life, through faith in him.

The answer won't be found in Galileo or any other human teacher, unless they point to the Word of God, Jesus Christ, who became flesh and dwelt among us... "and to those who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God" (John 1:12).

I hope I meet Emily Saliers again someday. We have a lot to talk about.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Robert Samuelson in Newsweek: "High-Speed Rail Is a Fast Track to Government Waste"

From here.
Vice President Biden, an avowed friend of good government, is giving it a bad name. With great fanfare, he went to Philadelphia last week to announce that the Obama administration proposes spending $53 billion over six years to construct a "national high-speed rail system." Translation: The administration would pay states $53 billion to build rail networks that would then lose money—lots—thereby aggravating the budget squeezes of the states or federal government, depending on which covered the deficits.

There's something wildly irresponsible about the national government undermining states' already poor long-term budget prospects by plying them with grants that provide short-term jobs. Worse, the rail proposal casts doubt on the administration's commitment to reducing huge budget deficits. How can it subdue deficits if it keeps proposing big spending programs?

[Read it all.]

Which is why Wisconsin, Ohio, and now Florida have refused federal money for high speed rail.

Here's the story from Wisconsin: The proposed rail line was to run between Milwaukee and Madison--a trip that takes a little over an hour by car on I-94 which connects the two cities and runs right past all the stopping points where the rail line would have stopped. There is already bus service between the two cities that costs $17.50 per trip. The number of stopping points meant that the "high speed" rail would only achieve a top speed of 57 miles per hour between stops, making it slower than going by car or non-stop bus. One way tickets were going to cost $30, and this doesn't count a state subsidy that was estimated to run up to $68 per ticket--bringing the actual cost of transporting a person to more than $100, a cost that would most likely be borne by state taxpayers. So Samuelson's article is right on the money.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Bless me, iPhone, for I have sinned.

An iPhone app aimed at helping Roman Catholics through confession and encouraging lapsed followers back to the faith has been sanctioned by the Church.

Confession: A Roman Catholic app, thought to be the first to be approved by a church authority, walks Catholics through the sacrament and contains what the company behind the program describes as a "personalized examination of conscience for each user."

Read more.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Theses for a new reformation in the Anglican Communion

Mark Thompson, who heads the theology department at Moore College, Sydney, Australia, has posted some interesting and thoughtful theses about the real need in the Anglican Communion today, which is a reformation of the minds and hearts of Anglican believers. Until that happens, the institutional malaise the Communion is experiencing will continue unabated.

Read them carefully and see what you think.