Jun
30
2006
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$1M… for voting?

Yesterday I wrote about a church paying people to visit their services. Today I'm writing about a state that wants to pay people to vote. Or, at least, some people in the state want that.

In yesterday's post I was a little ambivelant. It didn't seem quite right, and I'm not sure how prudent it is, or if it's a good use of the Lord's money, but I couldn't point to something that made it absolutely wrong. Today, though, I'm a little more persuaded that this is a really crummy idea.

Ok, so what am I talking about? It seems that an Arizona doctor and political activist has decided that not enough people are voting. (I agree, so far, but not with his proposed solution!) So, he's worked up enough signatures for a ballot initiative for this fall, which, if passed, would enter every voter in a lottery for $1,000,000. NPR has an interview with the doc on their website.

This really disgusts me! What ever happened to civic duty? What happened to "Ask not what your country can do for you; Ask what you can do for your country!"?

So, what effect will this have on the electorate? Well, you're going to have a lot of uninformed and stupid (those two are not synonymous, btw – think about it) people coming to the polls not because they believe in duty and responsibility, not because they cherish the republic in which we live, not because they value democracy, but because they want a million dollars!

From listening to the interview, it's clear that he's liberal, and, imo, essentially socialist. He cites Australia, which fines citizens $20 (unclear whether that was in US or Aussie dollars) if they fail to vote. He then went on to identify a string of causal links. Two problems with that:

  1. Correlation does not necessarily indicate causality.
  2. The "benefits" he cites are not necessarily benefits!

So, what are the "benefits" which he claims are due to the 95% voter turnout there?

Well, the good doctor says that minimum wage there is over $9/hour! Hmm. I won't take the time to explain why that's a bad idea right now, but maybe I will come back and update this post a little later. He also exults that they have universal healthcare there, another dubious "benefit." Again, more on that later.

At any rate, paying people to vote (or, in this case, offering a chance of being paid $1M to vote), is antithetical to the founder's vision of a democratic republic, in which God-fearing, responsible, mature individuals would elect representitives for the good of the union. Maybe I'll write more on this later, too.

Oh yes, one last thing, even more disgusting. He's made this ballot initiative retroactive! That is, if it passes, one person who votes in this election will get $1M. That's stacking the odds in your favor, isn't it? It'd be one thing to let responsible men and women who already vote (with no thought of winning the $1M lottery) decide the prudence of instituting such a lottery, but that's not what's going to happen. The prospect of $1M will draw all kinds of people who little care about duty and who are there to vote in the lottery initiative and thus gain a free chance at winning.

I sure hope it doesn't pass, but I suspect it will.

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Written by in: Current Events |
Jun
29
2006
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Go to church and… get paid?

A Pentecostal church in Harvey, IL is paying folks to come visit this Sunday – $25 for each first-time visitor over the age of 16. The only stipulation is that you’re there on time and stay for the whole service. Oh, and if there’s more than 75 people who show up, you’re out of luck.

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Written by in: Ministry & Religion |
Jun
26
2006
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A Pastor’s Study Habits

I just finished listening to an interview [part onepart two] with Dr. Mark Minnick. For those unfamiliar with Dr. Minnick, he’s pastor of Mount Calvary Baptist Church here in Greenville, and he teaches several Seminary classes here. Several of my posts have referenced a recent class I had with him: Class Review, Part 1 and Resource File.

In this interview he is asked very pointedly about his personal study habits. Having heard many of his messages, his reply didn’t especially surprise me, b/c the fruit (i.e., his sermons) demonstrates much cultivation (study). However, it’s still pretty amazing.

Here’s his summary of a typical week:

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Written by in: Ministry & Religion |
Jun
19
2006
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BJU Daycamp (My Summer Job)

Those of you who know that I work in the BJU Seminary during the school year are probably wondering why I’m working at daycamp this summer.  Then again, you might be wondering what daycamp is.  So let me explain.
Written by in: Personal |
Jun
19
2006
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Changes in Wikipedia

Wikipedia, that amazing encyclopedia "written collaboratively by volunteers, [which allows] articles to be changed by anyone with access to the website"1 has changed that very policy.

From the beginning, back in 2001, Wikipedia has been growing at a phenomenal rate (now up to nearly 2,000,000 articles in English, and about as many in other languages besides) almost entirely through the efforts of volunteer contributors.

For the uninitiated, a "wiki" is a site that allows users to collaborate, and gives anyone with access to the page the right to add, delete, or change the content.

Despite its many detractors, the concept has gained a lot of traction, especially in the business world. Many companies use internal wikis to facilitate project management and content development, with collaborators sometimes being across the office, and sometimes across the world.

Wikipedia takes a collaborative approach to all knowledge. The idea is to have experts contribute articles to their respective areas of expertise. Then other experts can refine and expand these initial articles, and so the whole grows and improves with time.

Almost from the beginning, there has been "controversy over Wikipedia's reliability and accuracy, with the site receiving criticism for its susceptibility to vandalism, uneven quality and inconsistency, systemic bias, and preference for consensus or popularity over credentials. Nevertheless, its free distribution, constant and plentiful updates, diverse and detailed coverage, and versions in numerous languages have made it one of the most-used reference resources on the Internet."2 

This week, however, Wikipedia announced changes that some claim prostitute the very ideas which have made Wikipedia what it is today.

[The new] measures can put some entries outside of the "anyone can edit" realm. The list changes rapidly, but as of yesterday, the entries for Einstein and Ms. Aguilera were among 82 that administrators had "protected" from all editing, mostly because of repeated vandalism or disputes over what should be said. Another 179 entries — including those for George W. Bush, Islam and Adolf Hitler — were "semi-protected," open to editing only by people who had been registered at the site for at least four days. (See a List of Protected Entries)

While these measures may appear to undermine the site's democratic principles, Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's founder, notes that protection is usually temporary and affects a tiny fraction of the 1.2 million entries on the English-language site.3

 

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Written by in: Technology |
Jun
19
2006
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Fort Knox of Seeds

From the Washington Post today, we read of a "high-security vault, almost half the length of a football field, [which] will be carved into a mountain on a remote island above the Arctic Circle. If the looming fences, motion detectors and steel airlock doors are not disincentive enough for anyone hoping to breach the facility's concrete interior, the polar bears roaming outside should help."

The project has been endorsed by over 100 nations so far. What's inside? Seeds. Millions of them. Why? The article explains:

The "doomsday vault," as some have come to call it, is to be the ultimate backup in the event of a global catastrophe — the go-to place after an asteroid hit or nuclear or biowarfare holocaust so that, difficult as those times would be, humankind would not have to start again from scratch.

Full text here.

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Written by in: Current Events,Technology |
Jun
15
2006
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Christian movie rated PG

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things….

[They] changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen….
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

(Rom 1:21-32)

NewsMax reports today that a new movie produced by evangelical Christians has been given a rating of "PG" by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). The movie has no profanity, violence, sex, or nudity. So, what does it have to earn the "Parental Guidance Advised" rating?

Well, it has too much faith, of course! The MPAA explains that the movie has strong "thematic elements" that might disturb some parents. Horrors – you mean my kids might actually see something virtuous and good on the silver screen? We can't let that happen, says the MPAA – we'd better warn parents fast!

Does this seem a little backwards to you? I guess it wouldn't surprise Paul, who penned the words above about 2,000 years ago, because he (under inspiration of God) warned us it was coming.

_______________________
*I've not seen the movie and I don't know anything about it more than what NewsMax reported today, so I'm neither condoning nor condemning it. I'm more interested in the basis for the PG rating than I am in the actual movie.

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Written by in: Ministry & Religion |
Jun
12
2006
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Class Review, part 1

Well, the semester is finally over. As a matter of fact, it’s been over for more than a month now. It’s nice to not have to study every night! But it was a fantastic semester, and I learned a lot. Now that I have time to stop and think about it, I figure it’s time to do a kind of “internal review” of the high points. And, since I have this wonderful platform called a blog, I thought maybe I’d make my “internal review” external. Smile

At the time of this writing, I only have a few minutes, so I’ll probably just cover one class for now, and will post my thoughts on a few of the others as time allows.

History and Philosophy of Preaching
This class may qualify for one of the top 10 classes of my academic career. That’s a tough call, b/c I’ve had lots of great classes, and 2 of them are from this one semester! But, it’s certainly a contender. Why? Read on.

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Written by in: Academics,Personal |

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