21 May 2012

Annular Solar Eclipse

Here are some photos I managed to shoot of the eclipse yesterday.  (This was an annular eclipse.  That means the moon doesn't quite cover the entire solar disc, so there's a ring around the shadow.)  Full eclipses are supposedly more rare, but I've seen a couple full solar eclipses, yet this is the first annular eclipse I've seen.

We used a welding mask glass to look at the sun, and since I didn't have the foresight to order a solar filter for my camera, I shot through the same glass.  Not idea, but it's what I had! (I think you can click on these and get larger images.)

About halfway (8:24pm CDST)

Nearly at peak (8:34pm CDST)

 Just past peak, with no filter (darn clouds!) 8:40pm CDST

Jen and Ryan seeing through the glass, and darkly

I still remember my first total eclipse.  I was seven, and we lived in Eastern Colorado.  A couple of families came over to the house and all the kids took turns watching through one of Dad's welding helmets.  It was a big social event. 

There isn't as much interest, especially in kids, as there used to be.  I don't know if technology is to blame (why go out and look when they'll show spectacular views from space on TV?). 
 Is it real?  Who knows...its going around the internet, so probably a hoax

Maybe.  But at least my family enjoyed it together!

15 May 2012

Two Blogs of Interest Today

I found this interesting analysis of some recent dust-up over Dr. Ben Carson and the keynote speech he gave at the commencement ceremonies for Emory University.  It's always amusing to watch academics poop in their own nest, then try to pretend nothing happened as the lie in the filth they've deposited.  (As an academic, I've watched this game played out for years.  It doesn't seem to change, in spite of the mess.)  I'd love to hear the message he delivered.
 Dr. Ben Carson

Also, Tim Challies reviewed Michael Kelley's book today.  I reviewed it a couple days ago, and came to pretty similar conclusions.  It is always encouraging when someone you admire thinks like you do.

14 May 2012

Book Review: Wednesdays were Pretty Normal

Wednesdays were Pretty Normal: A Boy, Cancer, And GodWednesdays were Pretty Normal: A Boy, Cancer, And God by Michael Kelley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

This book is a very interesting look into the progress of one family through the cancer treatments for their little boy. Even though the ups and downs and deeper theological and emotional peaks and valleys are cataloged, I really don't think one can fully grasp them unless he or she walks the same path. There's just too much that can't be put into words when a family goes through something like this.

I enjoyed the humor and grimmaced at the fear they faced, but I sometimes just couldn't connect with the depth of emotion. This isn't the fault of the author, but a fact of life...I've never faced anything like this with my kids, and I don't see how anyone who hasn't can fully relate. If you have faced this, I think this book might be even more meaningful to you than it was to me.

Nonetheless, this book is still a great read and I highly recommend it.

11 May 2012

More on Same-Sex Marriage, and Why It Isn't So Revolutionary After All

A couple months ago, I wrote a blog post about how I don't think same-sex marriage is a re-definition of marriage in our culture at all.

Now, Michael Horton (over on the White Horse Inn blog) is lending some credibility to my claim. He says,
"Both sides trade Bible verses, while often sharing an unbiblical—secularized—theological framework at a deeper level. If God exists for our happiness and self-fulfillment, validating our sovereign right to choose our identity, then opposition to same-sex marriage...is just irrational prejudice.

Given the broader worldview that many Americans (including Christians) embrace—or at least assume, same-sex marriage is a right to which anyone is legally entitled. After all, traditional marriages in our society are largely treated as contractual rather than covenantal, means of mutual self-fulfillment more than serving a larger purpose ordained by God. The state of the traditional family is so precarious that one wonders how same-sex marriage can appreciably deprave it.

Same-sex marriage makes sense if you assume that the individual is the center of the universe, that God—if he exists—is there to make us happy, and that our choices are not grounded in a nature created by God but in arbitrary self-construction. To the extent that this sort of “moralistic-therapeutic-deism” prevails in our churches, can we expect the world to think any differently?"
From either perspective, whether you are pro- or anti-same-sex marriage, we are getting what we deserve.

08 May 2012

Why an 'Evolving' Position on Moral Issues is Inappropriate for a Sitting President

Barack Obama has pulled a John Kerry numerous times on the issue of same-sex marriage.  He was for it before he was, well, not sure about it. Obama says his views on same-sex marriage are 'evolving'.

Evolving views on certain issues are fine.  For example, a president's views on foreign policy stances with a particular nation may evolve with circumstances in that nation, including who the leader is, the level of aggressiveness the nation puts forth, or the level of human rights abuses found therein.

Presidents might change their views on defense spending, or welfare policy, or any other host of social or political issues that might change during a presidency. (Some of these may also have a moral component, but they are primarily political issues.) We the public usually support the change if the president was our candidate, and speak out against it if he wasn't. Sometimes we might even consider the substantive nature of the change-of-position, but usually, it's about the man.

But one area where views ought not be shifting is on moral issues.  One of the reasons the US Constitution requires a citizen to be at least 40 years old to be eligible to run for the presidency is so that the person might have enough age and maturity to have established a 'moral compass' that guides them through the myriad of decisions they face in office. Moral issues are never about the man, but always about the issue, because the stance on the issue defines the man (or woman) in office.

Ronald Reagan defied even his own party advisors when he called the Soviet Union the, "Evil Empire".  They told him such morally decisive language would offend and be long-term destructive to the US position on various Cold War issues between the two countries.  But Reagan had a moral compass, and he followed it.  It was one of the reasons he was such a successful president.  He turned out to be right:  the USSR eventually failed as a political experiment, though not until about a year after Reagan left office.  His challenge to Gorbachev to "tear down this (Berlin) wall" came to fruition in 1989.  This moment may be the defining moment of his presidency as history unfolds.

 I miss Ronald Reagan.

Even Jimmy Carter was willing to take a moral stand on an issue in which he believed.  He issued the famous executive order prohibiting the assassination by US operatives of foreign heads of state, even if they posed a clear and present danger to US national security.  I vigorously opposed this move at the time (even though I was about 16), and still think it is wrong today, both on moral and biblical grounds.  But I will give President Carter credit for following his moral compass.

A sitting US President needs to have established moral values.  Whether you support same-sex marriage or not; whether you think it is a doorway to equality for all or a step toward barbarianism, you should expect your president to have a clear and unequivocal position on it, and to state that position for all.  I know Obama has not done that, and I don't think Romney has either.

If neither candidate for President has a clear moral position on this or any other sensitive moral issue, I'm worried.  Really worried.

Which Billy?

Two Billys are in the news this week.  Billy Graham has released a statement supporting North Carolina's Amendment 1, a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

The other Billy, Bill Clinton, has been in North Carolina speaking against Amendment 1.

Here's the simple postulate:  Would you rather take your advice on moral issues from Billy Graham, or Bill Clinton?

Yeah, I didn't think it was that hard either.

04 May 2012

Is That Thing Really Necessary?

I've turned off the word verification feature (feature?) for comments.  I did it mostly because it annoys me, so I figure it might annoy other people as well.  But, that's assuming I'm normal, which is a questionable assumption.  But try reading these things; they make my semester of Greek seem easy.

I'll have to wait and see how many web crawlers, robots, Russian mafia spammers, or alien intelligences spam my comments now that there is no word verification.  If you see it suddenly back in place, you'll know that I was attacked by one or more of the above.  If I don't seem like me after that, find out what they did with me.

Dasvidaniya, tovarich!

03 May 2012

USS Arizona Survivors

I found this interesting bit on Youtube.  Romans 13:7- Give honor to whom honor is due.