Friday, March 30, 2007

Damage Control

Evidently James Dobson felt the sting of his comments and the arrogant clarification of his spokesman. Today, the damage control party was summoned. Read this article to see what I mean.

I find their choice of blaming the media interesting. Not that the media doesn't deserve it, but it is hard to mess up the quote that Dobson's first clarifier gave. Let me share that beauty with you again.

"In a follow-up phone conversation, Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger stood by Dobson's claim. He said that, while Dobson didn't believe Thompson to be a member of a non-Christian faith, Dobson nevertheless "has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian—someone who talks openly about his faith."

"We use that word—Christian—to refer to people who are evangelical Christians," Schneeberger added. "Dr. Dobson wasn't expressing a personal opinion about his reaction to a Thompson candidacy; he was trying to 'read the tea leaves' about such a possibility.""

Yeah. I can see hot the media got that one wrong.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Evangelical Arrogance

Check out this recent US News & World Report story. What struck me is this exchange which follows James Dobson's assertion that he doesn't think Fred Thompson is a Christian.

"In a follow-up phone conversation, Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger stood by Dobson's claim. He said that, while Dobson didn't believe Thompson to be a member of a non-Christian faith, Dobson nevertheless "has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian—someone who talks openly about his faith."

"We use that word—Christian—to refer to people who are evangelical Christians," Schneeberger added. "Dr. Dobson wasn't expressing a personal opinion about his reaction to a Thompson candidacy; he was trying to 'read the tea leaves' about such a possibility.""

So, let me get this straight. Evangelicals are the only real Christians. That means the world's Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Mainline Protestants are not Christians. I really can't imagine a more arrogant statement that this man could utter.

Do we need to recount the evils from which the evangelicals have averted their eyes? The AIDS Crisis (until recently) The plight of the poor throughout the world has been largely ignored. Yet we have the chutzpah to judge whether someone who is a Christian is or is not a "real" Christian based on whether they talk about their faith.

Just a thought. What if they live out their faith rather than talk about it.

That is a show I imagine Dr. Dobson will not be airing anytime soon.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A surefire way to improve your gas mileage

No, it isn't a gadget you attach to your car or an additive in your gas or oil. Here is the big secret.

Read this article and you will see that "Americans are burning nearly 1 billion more gallons of gasoline each year than they did in 1960 because of their expanding waistlines. Simply put, more weight in the car means lower gas mileage."

I hear you. I'm actively seeking to reduce my gravitational attraction with some modest success. Maybe saving a few bucks at the pump will help motivate me.
Lord knows I need help.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A book worth reading

If you are looking for a way to integrate spiritual disciplines into the daily rhythm of your life, you might want to consider "Sacred Rhythms" by Ruth Haley Barton. It is an easy read with good life application of spiritual disciplines such as prayer, solitude, sabbath, self-examination etc. It is not Celebration of Discipline, but it is a good life application-oriented introduction into spiritual disciplines. There are individual and group activity guides inside, and I am using it in a small group where it is being well-received.

Just a thought for some Lenten reading.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Here's an idea

Maybe Detroit World Outreach Church could learn a little something from this guy. Rather than spending nearly $4 million on a parsonage, they could help out some needy families and support Michigan's pitiful real estate market.
I'll believe it when I see it.

Millionaire Gives Mansions to Homeless

Mar 22 09:36 PM US/EasternBy AUDREY McAVOYAssociated Press Writer

HONOLULU (AP) - Dorie-Ann Kahale and her five daughters moved from a homeless shelter to a mansion Thursday, courtesy of a Japanese real estate mogul who is handing over eight of his multimillion-dollar homes to low-income Native Hawaiian families.
Tears spilled down Kahale's cheeks as she accepted from Genshiro Kawamoto the key to a white, columned house with a circular driveway, a stone staircase and a deep porcelain bathtub. Her family will live there rent-free, but must pay utility bills.
"I'm shocked. I'm overwhelmed," Kahale said. "From the little box we had to what we have today."
Kawamoto, whose own eyes started welling up as Kahale cried, handed over two other homes Thursday to homeless or low-income families.
Kawamoto, one of Japan's richest men, said he plans to open eight of his 22 Kahala homes to needy Hawaiian families. They will be able to stay in the homes for up to 10 years, he said.
Native Hawaiians are disproportionately represented among the state's homeless and working poor.
Kawamoto owns dozens of office buildings in Tokyo under the name Marugen and his been buying and selling real estate in Hawaii and California since the 1980s.
He has been criticized for evicting tenants of his rental homes on short notice so he could sell the properties, as in 2002 when he gave hundreds of California tenants 30 days to leave.
Two years later, he served eviction notices to tenants in 27 Oahu rental homes, mostly in pricey Hawaii Kai, saying they had to leave within a month. He said he wanted to sell the houses to take advantage of rising prices.
Kawamoto selected the eight low-income families from 3,000 people who wrote him letters last fall after he announced his plan. He has said he tried to pick working, single mothers.
Giving away mansions shows more dedication to helping Hawaii's homeless than just handing out wads of cash, he said. Asked whether he was concerned about losing money on the effort, he laughed and said: "This is pocket money for me."
Kahale's new house is worth nearly $5 million, an average price for the mansion-like dwellings on Kahala Avenue. It is one of the more modest homes in the neighborhood, many of which feature ornate iron gates, meandering driveways and sculptured gardens.
Kahale became homeless two years ago when her landlord raised her rent from $800 to $1,200, putting the apartment beyond reach of her salary as customer service representative for Pacific LightNet, a telecommunications company. She first stayed with relatives, then moved to a shelter in September.
"What we need to do is appreciate," Kahale said after getting the keys to her new house. "As fast as we got it, it could disappear."
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

God of Wonders

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Psalm 8:1 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! 2 From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. 3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

Do you ever just go outside and stare at the night sky? I do, and I am humbled by the majesty of what God has done. He created all of this from nothing, to show his glory. And when we stare at what he has done, we can sense the presence of the Holy God.

Try it sometime. Go outside on a clear night and stare at the night sky. Let your soul drink in the presence of the Lord.

Here is a video clip to get your mind thinking on this topic.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Devil's Dictionary

Years ago I came across Ambrose Bierce's masterpiece of cynical thought, aptly titled "The Devil's Dictionary." If you have not had the pleasure of reading it, please follow the link or check it out of your local library. It is a wonderfully cynical look at life at the turn of the 20th Century.

Here are a few of my favorite definitions.

PAIN, n. An uncomfortable frame of mind that may have a physical
basis in something that is being done to the body, or may be purely
mental, caused by the good fortune of another.

INSURANCE, n. An ingenious modern game of chance in which the player
is permitted to enjoy the comfortable conviction that he is beating
the man who keeps the table.

JUSTICE, n. A commodity which is a more or less adulterated condition
the State sells to the citizen as a reward for his allegiance, taxes
and personal service.

About 20 years ago Chuck Moss wrote some additional, more modern definitions in the Detroit News. To the best of my memory, they were something like this

Greens, n. Ex Reds

Anti-Woman, adj. Anything any feminist dislikes

Special Interest, adj. Your Group

Public Interest, adj. My Group

I'd like to spend some time working on some modern definitions in the mold of Bierce.

For starters:

Darwinism, n. The only approved religion in science, characterized by a fervent belief in the unseen "missing links" and a fundamentalist denunciation of all who disagree with its tenets.

Obesity, n

1. A medical condition caused by excess weight, generally in excess of 20 percent more than the ideal weight for an individual as determined by medical experts.

2. The only permissible sin in the church. Characteristic of all classes of Christians, particularly preachers prone to expounding on the evils of vices other than gluttony.

There is a good thread here discussing this.

Let me hear what you have and we can add to it.

This will be fun.

Sola Scriptura (Sort of)

It seems that some of the Protestant church has fallen victim to tradition at the expense of Scripture. Read this to see what I mean.

Quoting from the article now:

"These questions came to me acutely not long ago. I was getting ready to preach. As the worship leader was finishing the music set, he offered some unscripted theological reflections. He said something like: "The only thing required of us is to believe that Jesus' blood saves us. Nothing more. It's nothing but the blood of Jesus."
In my Baptist context, we've heard these thoughts a thousand times. The problem was that I had in my pocket a message in which Jesus himself had a very different answer to the question of salvation."

Our former pastor used to refer to the process of professing faith, but not moving on in discipleship as "fire insurance." There is an edge to that comment, and a lot of truth. Unless you go where this author is going.

"In reading through Luke, I had discovered that twice (10:25, 18:18) Jesus is asked, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"
In the first passage, Jesus turns the question back on the lawyer who asks it. The lawyer replies with the Old Testament commands to love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself (cf. Mt. 22:34-40). Jesus affirms his answer: "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live." The lawyer then tries to narrow the meaning of neighbor. So Jesus tells the unforgettable parable of the compassionate Samaritan, who proved to be a neighbor to a bleeding roadside victim.
In Luke 18, Jesus responds to the same question, this time from the man we know as the rich young ruler, by quoting the second table of the Decalogue, forbidding adultery, murder, theft, and false witness, and mandating honor towards parents. His questioner says that he has kept these commandments, and Jesus proceeds to call on him to "sell all … and distribute to the poor." Jesus assures him, "You will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." The "extremely rich" ruler won't do this, and Jesus goes on to teach his disciples about how hard it is for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God.
Trying to be an honest expositor of the texts in front of me, I told the chapel students that morning that on the two occasions in Luke when Jesus was asked about the criteria for admission to eternity, he offered a fourfold answer: love God with all that you are, love your neighbor (like the Samaritan loved his neighbor), do God's will by obeying his moral commands, and be willing, if he asks, to drop everything and leave it behind in order to follow him.
I concluded by suggesting that the contrast between how Jesus answers this question and how we usually do is stark and awfully inconvenient."

I'll confess that I have been lax in this area in my life. But I also am aware of what God sometimes calls us to do that is not convenient. Which is why I am in school and running my own business. I don't pay >$400/credit hour to amuse myself. But I do know that God has called me to something. And my proper response is "Yes Lord" whether I want to or not.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

You have to be kidding me!

Check out the article below on the ostentatious house recently purchased as a parsonage. If this doesn't give the church of Jesus Christ a black eye, I will be surprised. The prosperity Gospel crowd drives me crazy with stunts like this.

Detroit World Outreach Church considers its purchase of this mansion proof of God's blessing.

No taxes on $4M parsonage

Northville Township loses $40,000 annually after church buys home.

Doug Guthrie / The Detroit News

NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP -- A Redford Township church that believes wealth is God's reward is raising eyebrows for buying its pastor a $3.65 million mansion and taking it off the tax rolls.

This month, township officials grudgingly conceded they had no choice but to remove the 11,000-square-foot home overlooking Maybury State Park from its assessment rolls, losing $40,000 annually in taxes.

They concluded the plush pad is a parsonage, but that hasn't quelled debate among township officials and neighbors about whether Christian charity extends to the Detroit World Outreach Church's purchase in September of the home for Pastor Ben Gibert and his wife and co-pastor, Charisse Gibert.

"I also have faith in God, but I don't expect to live in such opulence," said Evgenia Asimakis, a single mother of two who lives nearby and has trouble paying her property taxes.

Her neighbor, Gary Wall, is blunter: "You don't need a multimillion-dollar place to see God. He'll take a lot less."

Detroit World Outreach Church isn't apologizing. In fact, members say the mansion is proof God has blessed them.

The 4,000-member church is part of a growing movement that preaches prosperity. Also known as "health and wealth" theology, the ideology preaches that God wants followers to do well, be healthy and have rewards -- such as the $50,000 Cadillac Escalade the church bought the Giberts, who have four children.

Ben Gibert said God surrounds the faithful with beautiful things.

One of the leaders of his church agrees. "God's empowerment is to make you have an abundant life," said Elder Marvin Wilder, a lawyer and general counsel for the church.

"In this country we value rock stars, movie stars and athletes. They can have a lavish lifestyle, and a pastor who restores lives that were broken shouldn't? When our value system elevates a man who can put a ball in a hole and not a man who does God's work, something is wrong."

Born in the 1950s, prosperity theology has a strong following among some fundamentalist and nondenominational churches. It's gained popularity among mega-church ministries of such well-known national pastors as Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes and Pat Robertson.

Even so, most Christian denominations disparage the belief as consumerism run amok, said David G. Myers, professor of psychology at Hope College in Holland who has written about the movement.

"Are people really any happier for that sort of self-indulgent spending? The answer is clearly no," Myers said.

Wilder said the four-bedroom mansion "isn't flamboyant" and is compensation for Ben Gibert leaving his job as a high-paying automotive executive with DaimlerChrysler's minivan division after the sudden death in 2005 of church founder Bishop Jack Cameron Wallace.

Wallace dropped dead in Zimbabwe doing what Wilder said was the church's work. Wallace, 47, was an accomplished weight lifter and co-founder of Prosperity Nutrition Inc., which sold performance enhancement supplements, such as creatine, online.

Wilder said Gibert saved the church whose membership, once at 10,000, had fallen by more than half. Its services still are carried on a host of television channels throughout the Midwest.

"We know that it will cost the township some tax revenue, but every church in the state gets property tax exemption," Wilder said. "Having a parsonage is a historical precedent. Ours happens to be worth $3.6 million."

The mansion sits on 12 acres and behind a quarter-mile-long driveway and a tall, electronically controlled gate. That's necessary because the church has spoken out against homosexuality and Islamic violence, Wilder said. Wallace once had a live bullet delivered in the offering plate, Wilder said.

Gibert, who left a 7,000-square-foot home in Franklin for the mansion, agreed security is a concern.

"I am an African-American man who became pastor of a multi-ethnic church. Some people don't agree with that," he said. "I have not received death threats, but people have followed my children to school."

Thelma Kubitskey, the township's finance director, said officials weren't thrilled, but had to remove the house from the tax rolls. Tax-free status can be granted to church-owned residences if clergy live there, even if they're not in the same communities as the churches.

"If the church is willing to pay for the house, it's fine with me," said neighbor Janice Gutowski, whose $800,000 home is dominated by the Giberts' house and lawns.

"Churches don't pay taxes, so the rules should be the same for everyone."

Township Clerk Sue Hillebrand complained that Northville schools can ill afford to lose more revenue. She said she's amazed by the church's generosity.

"They could buy a very, very nice home out here for half a million," she said. "Can you imagine how many miracles you could perform, how many people you could help with the $3 million left over?"

You can reach Doug Guthrie at (734) 462-2674 or

Prosperity Gospel
Prosperity theology -- also known as health and wealth -- has its supporters and detractors, both of whom point to the Bible to make their case:

  • Deuteronomy 8:18: God "giveth thee powers to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant for he sware unto thy fathers."
  • Mark 11:24 -- "Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."
  • John 10:10 -- "Then Jesus said ... I have come so that they (His disciples) may have life, and have it more abundantly."
  • Matthew 19:24 -- "And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
  • Matthew 6:19-21 -- "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal."
  • Luke 18:22 -- "Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven."
    Sources: Detroit News research,
  • Monday, March 12, 2007

    I don't even know what to add to this

    It really just leaves me speechless about the status of our country. Did he think Father of our Country was a title he could win?

    The story is from the Cincinnati Enquirer.

    He'll be dad 6 times, with 6 women

    Ricky Lackey has six children on the way.

    Just don’t call them sextuplets – they’re all with different women.

    When Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Melba Marsh asked Lackey during sentencing Friday on a charge of attempted theft how many children he had, the 25-year-old said, “None, but I have six on the way.”

    A stunned Marsh tried to clarify. “Are you marrying a woman with six children?” she asked.

    “No, I be concubining,” he said. A concubine is a woman who cohabitates with a man to whom she is not married.

    Prosecutors said Lackey is expectant father of six children with six different women. The women all are expected to deliver between August and October.

    Lackey’s lawyer, Stephen Wenke, stopped his client from saying more.

    Later, Marsh said she wasn’t sure how to respond so she let the issue drop since it wasn’t relevant to the proceedings.

    Lackey, a music producer who told Marsh he was on the cusp of a $2 million deal that would net him $300,000 upfront, was convicted Friday on a reduced charge of attempted theft.

    Prosecutors say the Avondale man defrauded U.S. Bank out of $3,975 by depositing empty envelopes into ATM machines, claiming they contained cash, and depositing bad checks. Once the accounts were falsely inflated, Lackey withdrew all the money before the bank could detect the fraud.

    Lackey has repaid the money, according to court records.

    Marsh ordered no other sentence since restitution had been paid.

    As Lackey left the courtroom Friday, a group of teenage girls there for another case appeared to know Lackey. “Oh, there’s Ricky Lackey!” one swooned.

    Lackey shrugged the attention off with one word and a wave of his hand. “Fans,” he said.

    Which Sci-Fi character are you?

    Not surprisingly to readers of this space, I am Yoda. Short, green and confusing. Take the test and tell me how you turned out.

    Sunday, March 11, 2007

    Amazing Grace

    We went to see the movie over the weekend. It was very good. Touching without being overly sentimental. I took the kids to see it because it is something I think they need to know. That one person taking a principled stand based on scripture can change things.

    I found this to be intriguing:

    John Newton (played by Albert Finney in Amazing Grace) wrote the words to one of the most beloved hymns of all time between 1760 and 1770, while working as an evangelical pastor. Son of the commander of a merchant ship, Newton was captain of a slave ship for many years, until he underwent a dramatic religious conversion while steering his vessel through a storm.

    Repenting and regretting the misery he had inflicted on the thousands of human cargo he had transported across the Middle Passage for many years, he devoted his life to the Church, and wrote the lyrics to many hymns which are still popular today.

    In 1780 Newton left Olney to become rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, St. Mary Woolchurch, in London. There he drew large congregations and influenced many, among them William Wilberforce. Newton continued to preach until the last year of life, although he was blind by that time. He died in London December 21, 1807.

    Newton had been Wilberforce's pastor when Wilberforce was a child and became a mentor to him during the struggle to end slavery in Britain. God truly redeemed a man's evil acts to affect a great good. What an awesome God we serve.

    Go see the movie.

    Tuesday, March 06, 2007

    The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions

    The Law of Unintended Consequences has not been repealed. In our zeal, post-Katrina to find alternative sources of energy for our cars, we, as a government, are rushing pell-mell into ethanol production. Never mind that ethanol has less energy per gallon than gasoline and costs a fortune in agricultural inputs, it is the wave of the future. Enter market economics. As the cover of World Magazine shows, not everyone is happy with our national goal of giant corn distilleries. It seems that our push for ethanol is driving up the price of corn, in some cases, doubling it. And the poor folks who have it as a staple of their diet are suffering.

    Never mind that there is ample oil off the coast of the United States in the Gulf of Mexico and California, not to mention the ANWR debacle. U.S. companies are not allowed to drill for oil in these zones, but Cuba is. Cuba, with the help of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, is planning to drill for oil within sight of Florida. So much for the environmentalists cause there.

    This reminds me of a 235 year-old letter written by John Wesley "To the Editor of 'Lloyd's Evening Post'" in 1772. The text is below, courtesy of the Wesley Center for Applied Theology at Northwest Nazarene University. It seems that not much has changed since then. We take food crops and use them for other purposes and disadvantage those who are most vulnerable. Read John Wesley's letter below

    To the Editor of 'Lloyd's Evening Post' [25]]

    DOVER, December 9, 1772.

    SIR,--Many excellent things have been lately published concerning the present scarcity of provisions. And many causes have been assigned for it; but is not something wanting in most of those publications? One writer assigns one cause, another one or two more, and strongly insists upon them. But who has assigned all the causes that manifestly concur to produce this melancholy effect? at the same time pointing out how each particular cause affects the price of each particular sort of provision?

    I would willingly offer to candid and benevolent men a few hints on this important subject, proposing a few questions, and adding to each what seems to be the plain and direct answer.

    I. 1. I ask first, Why are thousands of people starving, perishing for want, in every part of England? The fact I know: I have seen it with my eyes in every corner of the land. I have known those who could only afford to eat a little coarse food every other day. I have known one picking up stinking sprats from a dunghill and carrying them home for herself and her children. I have known another gathering the bones which the dogs had left in the streets and making broth of them to prolong a wretched life. Such is the case at this day of multitudes of people in a land flowing, as it were, with milk and honey, abounding with all the necessaries, the conveniences, the superfluities of life!

    Now, why is this? Why have all these nothing to eat? Because they have nothing to do. They have no meat because they have no work.

    2. But why have they no work? Why are so many thousand people in London, in Bristol, in Norwich, in every county from one end of England to the other, utterly destitute of employment?

    Because the persons who used to employ them cannot afford to do it any longer. Many who employed fifty men now scarce employ ten. Those who employed twenty now employ one or none at all. They cannot, as they have no vent for their goods, food now bearing so high a price that the generality of people are hardly able to buy anything else.

    3. But to descend from generals to particulars. Why is breadcorn so dear? Because such immense quantities of it are continually consumed by distilling. Indeed, an eminent distiller near London hearing this, warmly replied, Nay, my partner and I generally distil but a thousand quarters of corn a week.' Perhaps so. Suppose five-and-twenty distillers in and near the town consume each only the same quantity. Here are five-and-twenty thousand quarters a week --that is, above twelve hundred and fifty thousand quarters a year--consumed in and about London! Add the distillers throughout England, and have we not reason to believe that half of the wheat produced in the kingdom is every year consumed, not by so harmless a way as throwing it into the sea, but by converting it into deadly poison--poison that naturally destroys, not only the strength and life, but also the morals of our countrymen!

    Well, but this brings in a large revenue to the King.' Is this an equivalent for the lives of his subjects? Would His Majesty sell an hundred thousand of his subjects yearly to Algiers for four hundred thousand pounds? Surely no. Will he, then, sell them for that sum to be butchered by their own countrymen? But otherwise the swine for the Navy cannot be fed.' Not unless they are fed with human flesh? not unless they are fatted with human blood? O tell it not in Constantinople that the English raise the royal revenue by selling the blood and flesh of their countrymen!

    4. But why are oats so dear? Because there are four times the horses kept (to speak within compass), for coaches and chaises in particular, than were some years ago. Unless, therefore, four times the oats grew now as grew then, they cannot be at the same price. If only twice as much is produced (which perhaps is near the truth), the price will naturally be double to what it was.

    As the dearness of grain of one kind will naturally raise the price of another, so whatever causes the dearness of wheat and oats must raise the price of barley too. To account, therefore, for the dearness of this we need only remember what has been observed above, although some particular causes may concur in producing the same effect.

    5. Why are beef and mutton so dear? Because most of the considerable farmers, particularly in the northern counties, who used to breed large numbers of sheep or horned cattle, and frequently both, no longer trouble themselves with either sheep or cows or oxen, as they can turn their land to far better account by breeding horses alone. Such is the demand, not only for coach- and chaise-horses, which are bought and destroyed in incredible numbers; but much more for bred horses, which are yearly exported by hundreds, yea thousands, to France.

    6. But why are pork, poultry, and eggs so dear? Because of the monopolizing of farms, as mischievous a monopoly as was ever yet introduced into these kingdoms. The land which was formerly divided among ten or twenty little farmers and enabled them comfortably to provide for their families is now generally engrossed by one great farmer. One man farms an estate of a thousand a year, which formerly maintained ten or twenty. Every one of these little farmers kept a few swine, with some quantity of poultry; and, having little money, was glad to send his bacon, or pork, or fowls and eggs, to market continually. Hence the markets were plentifully served, and plenty created cheapness; but at present the great, the gentlemen farmers, are above attending to these little things. They breed no poultry or swine unless for their own use; consequently they send none to market. Hence it is not strange if two or three of these living near a market town occasion such a scarcity of these things by preventing the former supply that the price of them will be double or treble to what it was before. Hence (to instance in a small article) in the same town, where within my memory eggs were sold eight or ten a penny, they are now sold six or eight a groat.

    Another cause why beef, mutton, pork, and all kinds of victuals are so dear is luxury. What can stand against this?

    Will it not waste and destroy all that nature and art can produce? If a person of quality will boil down three dozen of neat's tongues to make two or three quarts of soup (and so proportionately in other things), what wonder if provisions fail? Only look into the kitchens of the great, the nobility, and gentry, almost without exception (considering withal that the toe of the peasant treads upon the heel of the courtier), and when you have observed the amazing waste which is made there, you will no longer wonder at the scarcity, and consequently dearness, of the things which they use so much art to destroy.

    7. But why is land so dear? Because on all these accounts gentlemen cannot live as they have been accustomed to do, without increasing their income, which most of them cannot do but by raising their rents. The farmer, paying an higher rent for his land, must have an higher price for the produce of it. This again tends to raise the price of land. And so the wheel goes round.

    8. But why is it that not only provisions and land but well-nigh everything else is so dear? Because of the enormous taxes which are laid on almost everything that can be named. Not only abundant taxes are raised from earth and fire and water, but in England the ingenious statesmen have found a way to tax the very light! Only one element remains, and surely some man of honour will ere long contrive to tax this also. For how long shall the saucy air blow in the face of a gentleman, nay a lord, without paying for it?

    9. But why are the taxes so high? Because of the national debt. They must be while this continues. I have heard that the national expense in the time of peace was sixty years ago three millions a year. Now the bare interest of the public debt amounts to above four millions. To raise which, with the other expenses of government, those taxes are absolutely necessary.

    II. Here is the evil. But where is the remedy? Perhaps it exceeds all the wisdom of man to tell. But it may not be amiss to offer a few hints even on this delicate subject.

    1. What remedy is there for this sore evil? Many thousand poor people are starving. Find them work, and you will find them meat. They will then earn and eat their own bread.

    2. But how shall their masters give them work without ruining themselves? Procure vent for it, and it will not hurt their masters to give them as much work as they can do; and this will be done by sinking the price of provisions, for then people will have money to buy other things too.

    3. But how can the price of wheat be reduced? By prohibiting for ever that bane of health, that destroyer of strength, of life, and of virtue, distilling. Perhaps this alone will answer the whole design. If anything more be needful, may not all starch be made of rice, and the importation of this as well as of wheat be encouraged?

    4. How can the price of oats be reduced? By reducing the number of horses. And may not this be effectually done (1) by laying a tax of ten pounds on every horse exported to France, (2) by laying an additional tax on gentlemen's carriages. Not so much for every wheel (barefaced, shameless partiality!), but ten pounds yearly for every horse. And these two taxes alone would nearly supply as much as is now given for leave to poison His Majesty's liege subjects.

    5. How can the price of beef and mutton be reduced? By increasing the breed of sheep and horned cattle. And this would be increased sevenfold if the price of horses was reduced, which it surely would be half in half by the method above mentioned.

    6. How can the price of pork and poultry be reduced? First, by letting no farms of above an hundred pounds a year. Secondly, by repressing luxury, either by example, by laws, or both.

    7. How may the price of land be reduced? By all the methods above named, all which tend to lessen the expense of housekeeping; but especially the last, restraining luxury, which is the grand source of poverty.

    8. How may the taxes be reduced? By discharging half the national debt, and so saving at least two millions a year.

    How this can be done the wisdom of the great council of the land can best determine.--I am, sir,

    Your humble servant.

    Monday, March 05, 2007

    HItching your wagon

    Ann Coulter recently provided another reason for Christians to be very careful about choosing their allies in the political arena. Her unnecessary comment about John Edwards detracted from a conservative gathering completely drew the attention away from the 2008 Republican presidential wannabees, who were there trying to curry favor and big bucks from the conservative king-makers.

    The lesson I take from this is that the people of Christ need to have their own message, outside of a political party. As Ms. Coulter demonstrated, you cannot depend on your allies for good judgment, and you always run the risk of them making it about them, instead of the issue. In many ways I believe the evangelicals are so wedded to the conservative/Republican side that they can no longer extricate themselves.

    And we will be lumped in with the likes of Ann Coulter because of that.

    Thursday, March 01, 2007


    Peace is not the absence of conflict. I don't remember where I first heard that, but there is a great deal of truth there. Peace is far more than not fighting. It is intentionally taking steps to get along with our friends, acquaintances and those who just make us grind our teeth. It is what the Lord did by reconciling himself to us, and we are well-advised to follow His lead.

    Recently I attended a session on resolving conflict, and the presenters were singing the praises of Peacemaker Ministries. I find their approach intriguing, and a bit less harsh than some of the Matthew 18 folks I have come across. Peacemaker Ministries advocates creating a culture of peace, and acknowledges that it takes time to change learned patterns of behavior.

    Last year I heard a chapel service at Asbury Theological Seminary by Dr. Christine Pohl on "Creating a culture of grace and truth" that dovetails nicely with this topic. One of the requirements for peace is honest dealing with each other, and the difficulties we face. This week I finally received closure to a conflict that I mistakenly thought was resolved nearly two years ago. But a discussion that needed to happen was held, and I believe that it is done. I can't begin to describe the load that was lifted off when that happened.

    If you are in a culture that is not peaceful, prayerfully look at the Peacemaker Ministries info and how you might integrate it into your church. Strife impairs our witness and impedes the Kingdom of God. Peace enhances our witness. The world needs to see the Peace of our Lord.