27 March 2006

Presidential Approval Ratings and the State of our Nation
by Lydia T. aka Escape Artist
So, President Bush is at, like, an all-time low as far as popularity ratings go. This means that he’s an incompetent president with no skill or qualifications to be in office. He started a costly war and so many people oppose it, it isn’t even funny. So therefore we need to start looking for a new president right now. Right? I mean, if everyone’s against him and his war, then he should just resign from office before he gets America into anymore trouble. That is wrong. What much of the left-wing press doesn’t seem to remember is that one of the most-admired presidents of America had low popularity ratings. He indirectly started a war, a war, which, at the time, people opposed on both sides. This was a particularly cruel war, in which thousands of men on both sides lost their lives, and America unfortunately lost either way. President Abraham Lincoln had low popularity ratings while he was in office. The whole reason South Carolina declared secession was because Lincoln, a Republican, had taken the office. Despite his attempts to promise the Southerners that their way of life wouldn’t be threatened (neither would it be expanded), the South Carolina secession led the way to a long chain of events that culminated in the Civil War. Lincoln fought the battle for America with humor, intelligence, and determination. But at the time, he was not a popular president, and, of course, a war going on in your backyard can’t be too popular.

Here we are, in 2006. We are whiny backstabbers who don’t appreciate what our men and women overseas are doing. We undermine their every move and contradict their own opinions. “They hate the war!” we say. “They just fight because it’s their duty!” When we say that, we ignore what the soldiers themselves are saying. Staff Sergeant Jamie McIntyre of Queens, New York, recently said the following*.
"I look at the faces and see fellow human beings, and I say, ‘OK. This is a sacrifice I have to make to bring them freedom.’ That’s why I joined the military. Not for the college money, for doing what’s right. Fighting under our flag. That’s what our flag stands for. I believe in that stuff. Yeah, we might lose American soldiers, but they (the Iraqi people) are going to lose a society, lose people. You’ve got to look at the bigger picture. I’ve lost friends, and it hurts. But that’s even more of a reason why I say stay. It’s something that’s got to be done. If we don’t do it, who will?"

Don’t we have better things to do than critisize the work of these brave men and women?!? We sound like ungrateful wretches.

The idea that the war in Iraq is far less popular than any war has ever been isn’t right. There has always been some small fraction of Americans who hate the war, whatever it might be for, no matter whom it’s defending (us or them). It might interest all the peace freaks out there to know that the very earliest anti-war demonstrators in America were during the Revolutionary war. They were the Tories—the traitorous American citizens who supported the rule of a tyrannical and vindictive king. So think of that the next time you storm around a park waving signs that down President Bush and the war in Iraq. Anyhow, pardon my side trail there.

President Bush’s war, as the war in Iraq is called, is unpopular simply because every war in American history has been unpopular at some point or another. There’s nothing else to be said for it. No logic, no clear thinking. Brash left-wing poppycock has clouded our vision and our media so badly that we don’t see the war in Iraq as being essential to our freedom (as well as the Iraqis’). I guess the left-wing media just doesn’t like the idea of helping other people by our sacrifices. That’ pure selfishness. They really need to get over that, and they need to see that President Bush is making the best of the situation he was given. He came in at a hard place, and his administration wasn’t without flaws. But then, whose has been?
*Exerpt from The American Enterprise, March 2006.

25 March 2006

Dark subjects

Ok, here's what I've found out in my short and often traumatizing, scary and sad life.

We have a hole in us.

Profound, yet extremely weird. Most likely, you weren't born with a hole in your physical heart. But if you were born any time in the past (however long the world's been around; I say about four thousand years), then you have a hole in your heart. Not a physical hole, but a hole all the same. That hole is what you feel after you build your life around your girlfriend, and she leaves, or your job, and you lose it, or your family, and they don't love you in return. That hole is what you feel after you've tried everything there is to try, and you have everything you could ever wish to have, and you still feel like you're lacking inside. Atheists argue that man can, will, and has existed on his own, without God. Nietsche said, "God is dead." I, however, being the non-atheist that I am, beg to differ.

Number one, I have no proof for my God except that I'm sitting here typing this message. The very fact that my heart works, my lungs function, and I can see almost crystal clear is evidence for intelligent design. If you don't think so, please leave a comment. I'll be happy to hear what you have to say. Please, by all means, prove me wrong. I want to hear both sides of the story. But I'm not going to get into the material side of God until I get through this first. If I was asked how I know that God exists I would simply say that I have meaning. What on earth am I talking about? Of course you have meaning! Without God, people can have meaning by...uh...please help me, I'm struggling here. To make a difference for the better? If that's what you think, I have news for you, friend. Everyone will die. "So?" you may say. "My legacy will live on!" Well, I'm sorry, but history forgets almost as easily as people. Your legacy will not live on forever. Nothing lasts forever, as the classic rock band Kansas seems to think. Though I must admit, Kansas had a fairly good idea of human existence. Let me quote a little Kansas for you.

I close my eyes, only for a moment, and the moment's gone
All my dreams, pass before my eyes, a curiosity
Dust in the wind, all they are is dust in the wind
Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see

These lyrics written by Kerry Livgren, not me.

Kansas, a secular band from a different era, captures the destitude of the human life. What is the point of life? How can we be sure that we can make a difference, or, for ourselves, be able to trust in the only truth we can be sure of? Well, there are actually two things we can be sure of.

1. We sin. This might seem horribly simple, but honestly, it's very important. We are not born perfect. We are not influenced into sin by our surroundings and aqcuaintances. Where did they get it? Their aqcuiantances? And where did their aqcuaintances get it? Ah, a never-ending question put to a fundamentally flawed theory. When a child is born, no, when a child is conceived, he is already sinful. Yes, it's true. I don't have pages of proof, but I'll show you proof we are born sinful after you show me we are not born sinful. Anyhow, let's just assume that we are born sinful. Sin is bad, right? No matter how we treat it. Sin is lying to your boss, cheating on your spouse, hating your brother or sister. You feel horrible and empty after you lie, cheat or hate. The old adage, "Hate hurts the hater more than the hated," is not entirely true. Well, it is, but both parties suffer. Would you agree? Has anyone ever hated you? How did you feel? Hurt? Offended? You bet. We're programmed to recognize sin. Has hating someone made you feel better? Maybe for a minute, but it's a hollow victory.

2. Sin breeds death. Sin can only lead to the demise of the sinner. Sin is where death came from in the first place. Therefore, you sin, you die. And everyone sins. But what about the afterlife? "I don't believe in that abstract stuff! How can we know?" Well, the truth is, we can't know. Neither people who believe in Heaven and hell, nor the people who don't care or know. People can't know. But you know what? I have a story for you about this subject. It goes like this.

A man and his friends were talking about death and the afterlife. The man thought that there was a God and that he would go to Heaven, since God had accepted him and loved him. His friends, however, scoffed at the idea. "Not a chance!" they said. "There's no God! There's no Heaven. Man is self-sufficient." But the man just smiled at his friends' ridicule. Later in the conversation, as the friends were about to say goodnight and go home, the man stopped them. "If there is no God, and you're right, then when we die we both cease to exist. But if I'm right, and there is a God, and we can live with Him or suffer eternal punishment, you, will be suffering eternal punishment." His friends were converted to Christianity.

The point of this short story is that I couldn't have said it better myself. This man knew how to turn an argument around, and I applaud him. Do you agree with this story? Let me know what you think.

12 March 2006

William Bouguereau

The Little Marauders (1872)

An artist I had never seen before, William Bouguereau, popped up during some research for art class. I love the way he captures expressions so well! He enjoyed painting girls and Greek and Roman mythology. In fact, I only saw one painting in which the center character was a man: The Flagellation of Christ. You can see that picture and much more of his work here.

At the Edge of the River (1875)

06 March 2006

Components of a National Health Information Infrastructure

A comprehensive approach to patient safety requires the ability to anticipate and protect against circumstances that might lead to adverse events and implement corrective actions. Both adverse events and near misses require standard collection/reporting processes, datasets, definitions, and analytic approaches that can be achieved only by integrating patient safety reporting systems into the context of health information systems in both large institutions and office practices. These systems employ multiple detection methods and multiple reporting channels and involve a broad array of data elements. Establishing a national health information infrastructure is necessary to provide the backbone for such systems.

This chapter is divided into three sections: the first provides a general overview of the national health information infrastructure and a conceptual model of standards-based integrated data systems to support patient safety in institutional and office practice settings for all audiences; the second presents a technical review of the informatics components that support an information infrastructure for the technical reader; and the third provides a discussion of how standards-based clinical systems can be and have been implemented to support this endeavor for both audiences.

04 March 2006

Population Implosion

Wow! What a far-reaching article. If you're looking for Christian news in a secular world, look no further than WORLD Magazine.

Population implosion
Many nations are aborting their future generations, creating a worldwide underpopulation crisis

by Gene Edward Veith

The president of Estonia goes on national TV to urge his countrymen to have more children. Russian President Vladimir Putin warns his parliament about "a serious crisis threatening Russia's survival": the nation's low birth rate. The government of Singapore is trying to reverse that country's birth dearth by sponsoring a massive taxpayer-funded matchmaking service.

In 1968, Paul Ehrlich published The Population Bomb, panicking the world with dire predictions of a population explosion. By the year 2000, he predicted, the world would be so crowded that hundreds of millions would die of starvation. Although Mr. Ehrlich's prophecies have turned out to be almost comically wrong, PBS has produced a documentary taking him seriously, and philanthropists like Ted Turner still donate millions to combat population growth.
But the problem today is not overpopulation; it's underpopulation. For a population to reproduce itself, the fertility rate must average 2.1 children per woman. (The .1 allows for child mortality.) The fertility rate today among major developed nations is only 1.6.

The United States is rare among its peers in keeping its fertility rate at around the replacement level of 2.1, according to the Population Reference Bureau, which provided the fertility data cited here. Europe, though, is shrinking. Germany's rate is 1.3. Despite the stereotype of large Catholic families, France has a fertility rate of 1.9 and Italy has one of the lowest in Europe, 1.3. At this rate, there will be only about half as many Italians in the next generation. There will also be fewer Russians, whose fertility rate is 1.3.

Even nations that were once notorious for booming populations have drastically slowed down in reproducing themselves. In the last 20 years, India's fertility rate has gone from over four children per woman to about three. Mexico has gone from over four to just under three. China has a fertility rate of 1.8.

African nations continue to have very high fertility rates, up to five or six children per woman, but those lands are ravaged by AIDS, which is decimating their population. Muslim nations, on the other hand, tend to have booming population growth—Yemen's fertility rate is 7.2 children per woman.

Demographers predict that the world's population will level off at 9 billion, reports The Wall Street Journal. Then it will start dropping. There may well be nearly 500 million fewer people by 2075.
Isn't this a good thing? Why are so many governments panicking at the drop in their populations?
Although radical environmentalists like Mr. Ehrlich see human beings only as "consumers of the earth's resources," human beings are in fact the most valuable resource of all. Citizens are not just consumers but producers. Having fewer people can wreak havoc on an economy, creating both a labor shortage and a shortage of buyers. A government with a shrinking population faces a smaller military and fewer taxpayers. Dwindling populations have always signaled cultural decline, with less creativity, energy, and vitality on every level of society.

Already Japan— fertility rate 1.3—is facing the problem of having fewer taxpaying young people to support the burgeoning number of retirees, something that will hit the generous welfare states of Europe especially hard.

Already Europe has had to import large numbers of immigrants to bolster the labor force, most of them from the Middle East. Fewer and fewer native Europeans—along with the dwindling influence of Christianity—and more and more Muslims raise the prospect of the Islamification of Western Europe. One reason "old Europe" is not supporting the United States in a war with Iraq is that politicians in France and Germany fear the reaction among their Muslim voters.

Why the population decline? The worldwide collapse of what are, literally, family values. Thanks to contraceptive technology, sex has become separated from childbearing. With women pursuing careers of their own and men getting sex without the responsibilities of marriage, why bother with children? For many women and men, pregnancy has become an unpleasant side effect, something to prevent with contraceptives or easily treat with a trip to the abortion clinic.

The dirty little secret of the population implosion, one seldom mentioned by demographers, is that the world is aborting its future generations. China has shrunk its fertility rate by its cruel policy of forced abortion. (The website of the International Planned Parenthood Federation has only good things to say about China and does not even mention how the government coerces women to have abortions. So much for "choice.")

In the United States, abortion ends between one-third and one-fifth of all pregnancies, and the U.S. abortion rate is relatively low. In Russia, the average woman may have as many as four abortions in her lifetime. There are two abortions for every live birth. That is to say, Russians kill two-thirds of their children before they are born. That, Mr. Putin, is the "serious crisis threatening Russia's survival."

(And giving praise where praise is due,) Copyright © 2006 WORLD Magazine February 15, 2003, Vol. 18, No. 6

~We will be punished for our "pro-choice" mentality in far worse ways than we could have imagined.~

03 March 2006

Superficiality in Teen Relationships

I was reading A recommended article, and i thought, "Hmm, this is interesting. I agree with this author."

But her article got me thinking. Why is there such superficiality in teenage relationships?

Here's a hint: Look around!!!What do you see? And why shouldn't we buy it?

Turn on the TV.
Switch on the radio.
Surf the web.

What is our culture selling us? Why should people who lack a solid moral foundation have inhibitions against it?

Here's the deal. Teens buy what the culture sells. And the culture is selling flirtiness as a sign of social status, and kiss me is now a sign of progression. How can this be? Why have we fallen so low? And why do we think it's a new low? Here's what I think.Teens are not always the victims. It has been established that the culture sells what we want, plus some. Apparently, what we want is loose sexual lifestyles. Our culture is only reflecting what we want, with a little added on. Whatever we want, our culture will give us x2. That's just the way it is.

Where are teens getting this superficiality? They watch TV.They listen to the radio.They surf the web. So what? So do their parents. My point is that teens get to be the way they are through several things. By their personality, and by their surroundings. That's about it. And when their surroundings are overriding their morals and their personalities, they become tools of the culture. They begin to absorb such valueless, hip things as one-night stands, optional obedience, smoking, drugs, and disobendience. All this from their surrounding culture, and what their parents haven't taught them. All this adds up to the potential downfall of America. Point is, superficiality comes because people don't bother to teach teens what real relationships are. The culture we live in has cause massive decay in the fundamental core of relationships, and there is only one cure: Teach teens to start and carry through deep, meaningful relationships. What else is there to do? Criticizing them is not enough. If you're a Christian, it's your job to teach people your age how to live life meaningfully. I can never reiterate enough that criticizing is not enough! We have to do something about it. Talking is all fine and good, but when it comes time to do something, I get the feeling the talkers will be last in line.

Face the Music
Christians in the music industry
It has a sinful beat. It undermines the Christian faith in secular culture. It is the devil in the Church! What is it that has much of the conservative Christian church in a hopping fit? Two words: Christian contemporary. In this speech, I hope to clarify a little about the musical genre that is making waves in our culture. First of all, I will cover the purpose of music. Secondly, I will clarify the opposition contemporary Christian music faces. And last, I will clarify the purpose of contemporary Christian music. First, the purpose of music is to do two things:

1. To glorify and worship God
2. To edify and guide believers in their walk with God

In the Christian church, this definition is accepted with no difficulty. Many times, the Bible mentions glorifying God through music, and singing His praise aloud. He instructs us to. We are to sing with hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs. And therein is the key. Churches have been singing psalms and hymns for hundreds of years. While those are not to be undervalued, the time has apparently come for the spiritual songs the Bible talks about. Logically, conservative churches are resisting—they are, after all, conservative, and we’ve been singing hymns and psalms for how long? Yes, for hundreds of years. And this is an important reason the conservative church hasn’t fully accepted the contemporary Christian music. However, the newness that contemporary Christian presents should not be a problem. Things will come, and things will go. Hymns were once a new thing, as were psalms. As I said before, we have had psalms and hymns for hundreds of years. Now is apparently the time for the spiritual songs the Bible talks about. These songs glorify God. They edify and guide Christians in their day-to-day life. And they are not the work of the devil. This leads me to my second point: Examining the opposition to contemporary Christian music. Conservative churches that oppose it have solid reasoning: ‘It seems unchristian.’ First, we need to realize the difference between personal preference and bad morals. Personal preference says “I won’t listen to that song because it is loud.” Good morals, when faced with morally deprecatory music, say “I won’t listen to that song because it has things in it that are directly in disagreement with Biblical principles.” A majority of the people who oppose contemporary Christian music are legalistic. It is a matter of preference, not of morals. Legalism is a somewhat common affliction in the conservative church today, and it is most unfortunate. The dictionary definition of legalism is strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code. Contemporary Christian music is a unique and successful way of ministering to a lost world, but legalist opposition would destroy it because it is not psalms or hymns. My personal opinion on the matter is this: If the legalists want to get rid of contemporary Christian music, so be it. But if they do, it is up to them to find a new way of spreading God’s word to a lost world. Some people say that contemporary Christian music does not hold to the traditional Christian values that the church was formed on. In a song from Kutless, a Christian rock band, they wrote the following words.

Take me into the Holy of Holies
Take me in by the blood of the Lamb
Take me into the Holy of Holies
Take the coal, touch my lips, here I am

As you can see, these lyrics state that the only way we can have access to God is through the blood of the lamb—a basic belief that the Christian church has understood for more than a thousand years. This song is also recounting Isaiah’s experience in the temple, an event taken directly from Isaiah chapter six. So the claim that contemporary Christian music leaves traditional Christian values in the dust is not valid. Another claim against contemporary Christian music is that it does not “shine the light” into the darkness of the secular culture today. Well, consider this. Double- platinum artists of The Beautiful Letdown, Switchfoot, a professing Christian band, has experienced overwhelming success with two of their songs, Meant to Live and Dare You to Move. Consider a line from this song.

Maybe redemption has stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Salvation is here

And their other hugely popular song, Meant to Live.

We want more than this world's got to offer
We want more than the wars of our fathers
And everything inside screams for second life…
We were meant to live for so much more,
Have we lost ourselves?

I remember station surfing on my radio and hearing this song on one of our secular rock stations. I was ecstatic. Meant to Live, their louder song had finally made it big. I could only imagine how many teens would hear it and perhaps begin to wonder if we were indeed made for so much more than shallow material possessions. It also mentions that everything inside of us wants the life that God offers—the second life, or life after death. And this song is huge on secular and Christian music stations alike. If that is not spreading the light into dark places, I don’t know what is. And lastly, I will clarify the purpose of contemporary Christian music. Contemporary Christian music was designed to aid in worship areas and to help get the Christian message out. While it is certainly not a replacement for the traditional psalms and hymns in the Christian church, I can say with certainty that they are not detrimental to the basic Christian values that can be found in the church today. The claim that contemporary Christian music is “the devil in the church” is totally unfounded.

Take for example one woman who was raised in a Baptist church. After she was married, she began attending a Presbyterian church with her husband and family. Because of her background, music was important to her and she felt that it had a profound influence on the way she worshipped. However, God directed her and her family that it was time to leave the Presbyterian Church they had attended for over fifteen years. Where they were going, they didn’t know. God was wise enough to lead them to a wonderful, Christ-centered church. But…the music was a little iffy. The woman was startled by it, and she felt certain that she could never get used to it. But as she came to know the people of the church and understand their purpose, she began to realize that music does not make a church—the people within and the way they connect with one another and with God is really what matters in a church. Well, that woman was my mother, and I am a part of the family that experienced the wonderful change from being part of the extremely conservative to slightly more upbeat—but just as God-centered—group of people and their unique music. And while we still hold to the conservative principles we have always had, we have just begun to realize that the people within the church matter more than the music.

In summary, I hope I have convinced you that contemporary Christian music is not as many say it is: It is not the music of the devil in the church, and it does not undermine Christian outreach to the community—rather, it strengthens outreach to secular culture through widely accepted and attractive styles. And even if contemporary Christian music still isn’t your favorite genre of music, I hope this speech has helped clarify how contemporary Christian music is not bad.
~Please feel free to comment on this post. I would like feedback!~

02 March 2006

Christian contemporary

1 Corinthians 1:10

10I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

This appeal from Paul in 1st Corinthians has been sadly ignored by the reformed Christian church today. We seem to have a bone to pick with those who worship with what we consider to be “wild” music. We may even disassociate ourselves from “those people” just because we don’t necessarily like that type of music. This is detrimental to everything the Christian faith stands for. The goal of the Christian church is to spread God’s Word to a lost world and to provide a gathering place for support and fellowship among Christians.

The arguments that are vehemently against contemporary Christian music are three things, none of which are very complimentary.

1. Unfounded
2. Unfair
3. Detrimental

The arguments that are being presented against contemporary Christian music are not helpful at all to anyone. Reformed Christians are focusing so much time into attacking Christian contemporary music that we are losing sight of Jesus calling to us: To go and make disciples of all nations. We are also honoring ourselves above others, clearly violating another command of Jesus’: Romans 12:10—be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. When we harshly criticize contemporary Christian music, we drag an issue out that has potential to divide us a lot. We need to realize that the sooner we drop the argument, the better.

John 13:34-35 states clearly that we are to love one another as Jesus loved us. Unfortunately,

John 13:34-3534"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

John 15:12
12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

Romans 12:10
10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.