Dispatches from Outland
A little song. A little dance. A little seltzer down your pants. Copyright © 2003 Roy M. Jacobsen.


Friday, August 30, 2002  

Typography Department: I have been using the "blockquote" HTML tag to set off extended quotes, but the results aren't stellar. Can anyone suggest a better way to do this? That, or is there something I can do with my template to make that text behave?

Thanks.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 9:05 AM
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Apocalypse Soon? Department: A friend of mine has been viewing events in the world, particularly in the Middle East, and says he's starting to hear the hoofbeats of the 4 Horsemen. Me, I'm not about to say I can see the stuff from St. John's vision coming true in the newspaper headlines. (This wasn't always the case; in the 70s, I read The Late Great Planet Earth, and I wasn't sure I was going to finish college before I was raptured.) It could be, but then again, Christians with good intentions have been hearing the hoofbeats for the past two thousand years. Either way, it shouldn't change how we live our lives.

However, in musing about this, an interesting question came to mind: Does what we do change God's timetable? Maybe the whole question is nonsensical, along the lines of "What was God doing before he created the universe?" (By the way, the answer is: Creating a place in Hell for people who ask questions like that.) Or maybe it's something like "Can our prayers make God change his mind?"

Anyway, assume for a moment that the question isn't nonsensical. You see, I've entertained the thought from time to time that God doesn't have an entry on some particular date on the heavenly DayTimer marked "Open First Seal/Send White Horseman;" instead the events St. John saw are tied to a set of conditions on earth. In other words, these things will happen when the stage is set, when the circumstances have deteriorated to a certain point. (Keep in mind I'm just speculating here.) It's kind of like the Doomsday Clock idea; the "time" left until the zero hour varies depending on how bad things have gotten.

It that is the case, then the actions we take can either help or hinder the coming of the Horsemen. Close on the heels, then, of the question "Does what we do change God's timetable?" came another question. "Can someone, acting in obedience to God's will, bring the Apocalypse closer?" For example, could a world leader, by doing the right thing for the right reasons, help set the stage for Armageddon?

Bringing things close to home (because I don't think many of the readers of my blog are world leaders): If you knew that, by acting in obedience to God's will, you were helping bring about the conditions necessary for the beginning of the end, what would you do? I ask this because it seems to me that many Christians view the end times as something to be avoided at all costs, possibly because of uncertainty regarding timing of the Tribulation and the Rapture. (I mean, who wants to stick around for the Tribulation, given the choice?) And yet the example of John is to pray for the Lord to come quickly. Are we willing to hasten the Lord's return, at the cost of our own suffering?

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 8:54 AM
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Thursday, August 29, 2002  

Good Questions Department: In today's Impromptus column, Jay Nordlinger asks a wonderful question: "I wonder, for the millionth time, why it is that the only choice so many people are willing to allow is that to abort a child."

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 3:17 PM
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Art And Other Myths Department: Shoot! I've been making these for years. I didn't know it was art.

(Link via Redwood Dragon.)

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 1:32 PM
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Wednesday, August 28, 2002  

Fun With Search Engines Department: Tony Woodlief has some fun with the search engines at various websites. For example:

Not surprisingly, when one types the word "abortion" into NOW's [National Organization for Women] search engine, 853 articles that mention the subject appear. But surely childbirth is something an organization that claims to be "for women" should provide information about, right? Someone should tell the gals at NOW -- their search engine provides exactly 30 articles that mention this term, and most of these describe its dangers and complications. Women who need post-abortion counseling should look elsewhere as well, because NOW has nothing to offer them. Someone looking for guidance on breastfeeding will find seven articles. And of course we've all heard the myth that committed NOW members are a bit, well, either bitterly single or frighteningly butch. The NOW search engine doesn't help dispel this impression: the term "married women" was mentioned in 10 articles, while "lesbian" was mentioned in 584.

Tony also goes after Planned Parenthood, the National Resource Defense Council, the GOP and Democrats. He even peruses various religious sites.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 1:35 PM
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Real Life v. The Onion Department: We need more..., um, men? ... No. Beings. Yeah. We need more beings like this serving us in the Senate!

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 11:01 AM
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Leading Horses To Water Department: /ben/ has some good words on trying to convince people that God is by "arguing from the data."

The argument of Romans 1 is that what is knowable about God has been made plain to people and they have rejected it. The answer to this problem is not to tell people to have another look at creation and see that there is a God (whether it be first cause, intelligent design or human conscience arguments). The answer is the gospel: telling people that they have rejected God already but that he has loved them anyway and that they must turn back to him because the judgment is coming.

The evidence of creation is wonderful for believers. And I wouldn't say that one shouldn't present all the evidence that's available when presenting the Gospel. But we need to keep in mind that it isn't the latest discoveries of science that reveal God's fingerprints; Paul knew that "since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made." (Romans 1:20) It's there to see. The Gospel is what we need to proclaim. It should be the centerpiece, not an afterthought.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 8:36 AM
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Tuesday, August 27, 2002  

Uncommon Sense Department: Sometimes you need someone to restate the obvious, because it seems that many have forgotten that it is obvious. Steven Den Beste has a long post about scholarships, in which he says:

Get it straight: there are no groups. There are individuals, each of which has his own wishes, his own desires, his own problems and needs, and most importantly of all his own responsibility for his own future.
Everyone is different. All categorization of people into groups, for purposes of deciding how to treat them, is bigotry. And it doesn't matter who's doing it, or why. It's wrong. It's always wrong.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 9:48 AM
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Way Cool Site Department: Feminists for Life of America. Captain Janeway is prolife!

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 9:29 AM
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