from my last post you can tell I am a little unhappy.  Unhappy enuf to change servers.  So if

you didn't get an email you can be informed that my new email is

tech support

This probably isn't a problem for my computer literate readership, but for dummies like me, I have problems.

My virus protection program subscription expired and I couldn't renew because the program was replaced with a newer version, so I had to purchase and install it.  I did, and after completing the installation, I couldn't access the internet.  A call to my internet provider and much fooling around the tech support person said it was the antivirus program causing the problem.  So a call to the Norton and another half hour wait to get a person and then more time fooling around with me trying to follow his instructions.  Finally the verdict was "it is not the probem of Norton, it must be the service provider."  Back to Yahoo DSL, and more waiting and fooling around, this time even more extensive.  The final verdict was that it was for sure the Norton program.  The advise was to uninstall it and I would for sure be back on the internet.  So I did, and from this post, you can tell I am back on the internet.  Once more back to Norton.  I told the tech person that Yahoo DSL was correct, I uninstalled antivirus and got back on the internet. "What should I do to reinstall anti virus without the problem occurring again?" His advise was just follow all the screens and click Next when I was instructed to do so, and lo and behold it seems to be working.

 Now the reason for all this.  The time it took me for the fix could have been cut in half if I didn't have to have the tech person repeat after every question or instruction.  At both Yahoo and Norton the techie spoke Indian/English.  I suspect I was talking to someone in Bombay.  These people are not dumb, probably as good as someone I could understand.  My guess is they are paid half of what would be required if a person I could understand was on the pay roll.  Yahoo had a questionaire after my experience with their support service, and I really let them have it when it came to filling out the general impression part of the questionaire.

Is my experience unique? 


I have always had an unrealistic impression of the life style of men of the cloth (nowadays, people of the cloth).  I thought it strange, and maybe improper, if a minister liked doing woodwork and had a complete shop in his basement, or liked muscle cars and tinkered with them in his garage, or was an avid mountain climber, etc.  Probably a little gardening in his back yard was alright, but not much beyond that.  Well, admittedly that attitude is improper, a person of the cloth is entitled to other activities besides sitting at his desk all day or making visits to parishioners in the hospital.  It is a little irksome, though, when they play a lot better golf than I.

 I have been reading a very interesting book entitled, “Night Draws Near”, by Anthony Shadid.  He is an American citizen living part of the time in Oklahoma, but recently living in Iraq.  He is a journalist for the Washington Post.  The book consists of short vignettes of his interviews with the ordinary and in some cases not so ordinary people of Iraq, not the type of story the press would want to publish, but certainly very readable for anyone interested in the daily life of Iraqis.

The interviews with two Shia clerics was very revealing.  If I am a little uneasy with the life style of CRC ministers, what would I be with the life style of some of the Imams. 

I quote, “Ali Shwaki, a bearish Shiite Muslim cleric with the kind of swagger that a pistol on each hip brings, strode with an air of mission throught the no-man’s land that the capital had become in the occupation’s early weeks.  In words and action, he left little doubt that there was a new authority in town and it was his.  At the Prophet Mohammed Mosque, in Baghdad slum where he lived, the forty-seven-year -old Shawki led prayers in a room stuffed with booty confiscated from the looters’ rampages.  He never romoved his guns.”  “We order people to obey us.  When we say stand up, they stand up.  When we say sit down, they sit down.”  ” I pray with my guns “, he told me. Can you picture Reverend Boomsa up there on the pulpit with two six shooters strapped to his waist?

Muqtada Sadr, the young son of the revered ayatollah Sadiq al-Sadr, who had been assasinated by the government of Saddam, became the spiritual leader of the downtrodden Shiites who had suffered for ages under the rule of the Sunnis.  His greatest strength was the militia that he commanded.  Here we have a cleric who spent his time helping his own people but also figuring out ways to get even with the Sunnis, and by that I mean killing them.

If there is a Muslim song comparable to “Onward Christian Soldiers”, it appears it would be taken literally by them.  We don’t sing it very often now days, but I always thought it was to be understood allegorically.  Missionaries using the word of God, not guns, to overcome the ignorance of the heathen,  and the works of the devil, etc.

It is paradoxical that we regard secularism as a bad thing, but for Iraq it is probably a good thing, and something that the administration tried to achieve, but stumbled in doing so badly. 





I can’t remember what brought the subject up, but last Sunday night at our Heartland Strategy game Marten expounded on the concept of lying.  He said that his view was grounded in the teaching of respected philosophers.  I don’t question his assertion, and am not being critical of his view.  It is just that there may be other views, and I am wondering what you may think about the subject.   

This basically is what he said, “there are untruths and there are lies.  A lie is distinguished from an untruth in that it is intended to harm.” 

I have heard a whole bunch of catechism sermons on the Ten Commandments and particularly the commandment “Thou shall not bear false witness”.  I never heard that distinction made before.  Maybe I was dozing when that concept went by me.  I do remember such things as, “is lying warranted when, as for example, the Gestapo comes to your house and asks ‘are you hiding Anne Franks in the attic?”  The answer is obvious, you have a choice between obeying the commandment “thou shall not kill”, or “thou shall not bear false witness”.  Not a difficult choice.

Webster’s dictionary isn’t aware of Marten’s distinction.  It’s definition is “an assertion of something known or believed by the speaker to be untrue with intent to deceive”.  It says “deceive” not “harm”.  I have the impression that Marten’s concept tends to lessen the seriousness of lying.  Untruths are not all that bad, and possibly not addressed by the Ten Commandments.

A letter in the public pulse written by what I would guess is a conservative man of the cloth, made this distinction.  When GWB stated there were WMD in Iraq, he wasn’t lying because he honestly thought they were there. (I don’t know how he knew that,  he was probably hoping that to be the case.)  However, that isn’t in harmony with Webster.  It goes on to say a lie is, “an untrue or inaccurate statement that may of may not be believed true by the speaker”.  I really like that last part, now I don’t have to speculate whether GWB was lying!!!!





Hand bags.

I was looking at Jen’s spring hand bag offerings.  Check them out.  I am blessed with some remarkably talented children and children-in-laws.


Despite your political affiliations, you should give “Bagdhad Burning” a look.  Her latest post is hillarious (sp).  She may live in Bagdhad, but she is up on what goes on everywhere.  Its a wonder someone hasn’t fingered her, and she is still alive to post her comments.  Don’t tell me she doesn’t live in Bagdhad, too many people say she does.

Ten Commandments

I have been toying for some time now with writing an article for the Calvin Comment (our local churches monthly news letter) on the Ten Commandments. I keep putting it off because with so many theologians in the congregation, I hate the thought of maybe making a fool out of myself, because of my limited knowledge of it all.

I have been prompted to do this for two reasons. One, our church’s practice of preaching, roughly once a year, each of the Lord’s Days from the Heildelberg Chatechism, has meant I have heard, maybe 30 times, all about each of the ten commandments. But since there is nothing in the catechism about the commandments generally, I have missed out on that. Nothing about how we got the commandments, why there are ten, why the differences in the two Exodus, and Deuteronomy, versions. And any comparative evaluation of the importance of the commanements, particularly of the second table of the Law.

The second reason, is because I feel the commandment, “thou shalt not bear false witness” is so easily disregarded by Christians. Some of them rather prominent Christians!

Maybe you can either encourage me, or tell me that I am getting in over my head.