Saturday, January 17, 2004

NFL Games. With all my favorites gone, I'm backing the Panthers and the Colts tomorrow. Of the four remaining, I'd like to see the Panthers take it all. I suspect the cold will overwhelm both visitors and we'll see the Pats and the Eagles in the Super Bowl. In which case, I'll be backing the Eagles.
Recess Appointment. Yesterday, President Bush appointed Judge Charles W. Pickering of Mississippi to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Of course, what makes this unusual is that it's a "recess appointment" meaning that Judge Pickering will serve on the 5th Circuit until the adjournment of the current Congress, which will take place at the end of this year.

I've never been a huge Pickering supporter (probably because his main supporter was Trent Lott). Nevertheless, I'm surprised to see people who might otherwise be supporters, such as Libertarian Law Prof. David Bernstein, swallow the lies about Pickering. See Bernsteins comments here, which he reaffirmed here just last night.

On the contrary, please read Nat Hentoff's columns on Pickering, including this one which begins
I write this final column on Charles Pickering because, in some 50 years as a reporter, I have seldom seen such reckless, unfair, and repeated attacks on a person?not only by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee but also by organizations that gather financial contributions because of their proclaimed dedication to civil rights, civil liberties, and honest research. (People for the American Way, Alliance for Justice, et al.)

I think the reason Judge Pickering was selected really amounts to the fact that since he's already a sitting Judge, his temporary elevation (and I do think it's temporary) will be the least disruptive of any of the other candidates. Currently Federal District Court Judges, such as Pickering, sit on appellate panels from time to time. Therefore, this will be a little like an extended temporary rotation. Now, having said this, I must relate to you that is just my own speculation based on the fact that Pickering is already an Art. III judge, with a lifetime appointment. Eugene Volokh writes "if he isn't confirmed for the permanent appointment when his name is sent up again . . . I assume he'd lose the district court judgeship immediately and permanently, but I'm not positive."

I'd have loved to have seen this happen for Miguel Estrada, but to do that he'd have to be willing to have been blackballed from the judiciary for life. (Unlike Republicans, the Democrats play for keeps.) Larry Solum writes: "Miguel Estrada was also offered a recess appointment, but turned it down--presumably for career related reasons."

I don't recall if any of the other from President Bush's original group of nominees continues to be filibustered.

I know that Priscilla Owens is, but I think she was a later nominee.

Similarly Justice Brown of the California Supreme Court was a later nominee. And, as Eugene Volokh points out here, if the President had done this to Janice Rogers Brown "and then she wasn't confirmed for a permanent post by the Senate, she would lose her California Supreme Court seat permanently..."

Prof. Larry Solum characterizes this as
a very significant development in the confirmation wars--a natural retaliatory move by the President for the Senate Democrat's use of the filibuster against several of his nominees and yet another move in the downward spiral of politicization that has characterized the process.

Please remember that recess appointments to the judiciary are unusual. Nevertheless, this is not an abuse of power -- it's no worse than a minority of senators blocking consideration of a nomination, which is what the Leahy gang has been doing to Pickering all these years.

Remember that William Brennan was seated on the Supreme Court as a recess nominee.

The last nominee to be seated in the judicial branch by a recess appointment was Roger Gregory. This was done by William Jefferson Clinton. Also, it should be noted that Judge Gregory had his nomination resubmitted by President Bush as a peace offering to the Leahy gang.

Leahy, Schumer treat peace offerings a lot like Yassir Arafat: they fill an extended hand with a live grenade.

More. I almost forgot -- see this monograph recently published by the Fed.Soc and headed up by Stuart Buck.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Home School. Ben has a good piece about homeschooling. We have homeschooled all our kids (hmm, can I count Em at age 2?) at one time or another. I worked, very briefly, for HSLDA. I went to a law school that promoted home education and became friends with Chris Klicka (we roomed together and took and passed the bar exam together).

Nevertheless, I'm not a doctrinaire homeschooler. Our oldest is back in the government schools as a freshman in high school. We educated her at home through 5th grade when we sent her to a gov't school. For 7th and 8th grades we did homeschooling (and I was her primary teacher).

She is a smart kid, but lazy and easily distracted, like me. (In fairness to her, she's both smarter and less lazy than I was at her age.) When she went into a 5th grade class, she was at the top of her class, and slowly, over the next two years, slid back to average. We decided to go back to homeschooling for the next two years and see how things developed.

Some things went very well -- others not so well. I won't ever sugar coat things -- since I don't get home from work until 4 in the afternoon (I leave for work at 5:30 a.m.), we weren't always able to devote the time to some subject like I wanted. Nevertheless, she made remarkable progress in all subject areas and when she went back into the gov't school this past year, she went into all the honors courses and her last interim report was all A's, save one B+ (in Algebra II, Honors; which I'm pleased to report that she brought home a note from her teacher yesterday saying she'd finished off the semester by raising it to an "A").

In any event, Ben makes excellent points for home schooling. Among these, (1) the approach is easily tailored to a particular student's strengths and weaknesses (2) you can harness a student's particular interests to help the child to excel. Chief, however, is this point:
Ironically, public school proponents almost always choose to criticize this facet of home education - it's strongest point. They claim that home schooling isolates children, forces them to live in close-knit family settings, and removes them from necessary social activity with their peers (Yes - because forced social activity is always beneficial and can be achieved so fluidly in the welcoming environment of a public school, where non-conformity is always praised and never ridiculed).

They claim that home schooling traps children - but in reality, it frees them to use their imaginations to the fullest. There are no social restrictions in the home.
[I am cutting this off here, but you really should read the rest of Ben's point, because he takes a slightly different path here than the one I will take] There is that peer pressure to not perform, to not excel and I could see that was happening to our oldest when we took her out after 6th grade. If I see it again, I'll bring her back home.

One last point: home education always happens, even if you send your kids to a gov't or "private" school. I know from my experience that I received as much education from my parents as I did from teachers and I was never "home schooled." This happens though ordinary "life activities" but also happens when a parent works with a child on homework.

P.S. (yeah, that was the last point above, I just wanted to say one more thing) Read the comments to see what Papa D and "Jomama" D have to add. I do disagree slightly with Papa D when he writes
In spite of all the rhetoric condemning public education, MOST [conservative activists] still send their kids to public school, and MOST of the conservative women choose to work full time, letting the state raise their children. Why? As Francis Schaeffer said, people want their own "personal peace and affluence." Conservatives, too often, suffer from the same problem. Few...too few..chose the harder road. It costs time...and money...and freedom. But the results are worth it.
I'm not a "conservative," so I guess what he writes doesn't apply to me. Nevertheless, I don't think you should condemn your fellow conservatives who choose to send their kids to a gov't school. I do agree with him that you should count the costs and I agree that the costs are definitely worth it.
Good Point. From yesterday's WaTi:
"Staring at the back of a car during a red light can be a mundane experience — or it can be an opportunity to think through the logic of a worldview. I recently noticed a bumper sticker that read: 'Against abortion? Don't have one!' ...
"This argument works when dealing with preferences. 'Against broccoli? Don't eat it!' It doesn't work, however, with claims of objective morality. That's why we don't see bumper stickers that read: 'Against genocide? Don't commit it!' Or: 'Against rape? Don't do it!' Those slogans confuse categories. Pro-lifers are not simply expressing preferences; they are making arguments that abortion is an objective moral wrong.
"The same car had another sticker slapped onto its bumper: 'If you can't trust me with a choice, how can you trust me with a child?'
"The virtue or vice of a 'choice' is dependent upon its object and outcome. ... The logic of this bumper sticker makes perfect sense if you assume that the 'choice' has two legitimate, positive outcomes. ... [W]e wouldn't think it profound for a young man to say: 'If you can't trust me with the choice of beating my fiancee, how can you trust me with marrying her?' "
— Justin Taylor, writing on "Sticker shock," in the Saturday issue of World
Guilty Pleasure: The first season of Green Acres was released on DVD on Tuesday. My copy arrived via Amazon on Wednesday.
Most people don't know I'm from Hungary because I don't speak with an accident anymore.

-Lisa Douglas

DC Primary. A friend of mine, who lives in the District, just showed me the Voters guide that was sent to every voter prior to last Tuesday's primary. It contains a one page statement from every candidate and there, on page 12 (or 15, if going by the .pdf version), is the statement of Vermin Supreme. He concludes by saying:
All politicians are vermin. I am Vermin Supreme. I shall lie to you, because I can. I will Promise anything and deliver nothing.
Mr. Supreme received more votes than John Kerry, John Edwards, Dick Gephardt, Gen. Wesley K. Clark and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman combined. Okay, so the guy only got 146 votes and the others pulled out.

The Daily Kos had the DC ballot posted last month -- is it a coincidence that Dean is on top and Vermin is on the bottom?

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Great NFL Playoffs. ESPN has a piece on the greatest playoff games and fails to mention the first overtime game, between the Colts and the Giants. Perhaps, because they are excluding championship* games, such as the Super Bowl?

In any event, my own votes would be for two Raider games: The ultimate game would be the one they christen the "Sea of Hands:" Raiders 28, Dolphins 26 (AFC semis, Dec. 21, 1974). ("the greatest game I have ever seen" - Curt Gowdy)

The second was "The Immaculate RDeception:" Steelers 13, Raiders 7 (AFC semis, Dec. 23, 1972). Yes, it was a low-scoring game, but it was the most physical game I ever saw.

The rest:

#3 -- 1982 Chargers 41, Dolphins 38, OT (AFC semis, Jan. 2, 1982). Kellen Winslow shows why he's the greatest TE ever.

#4 -- The Ice Bowl: Packers 21, Cowboys 17 (NFL championship, Dec. 31, 1967). What separates the Men from the Martz? Going for the win and not OT.

#5 -- The Comeback: Bills 41, Oilers 38, OT (AFC wild card, Jan. 3, 1993).

#6 -- 1975 NFC semis: Cowboys 17, Vikings 14 ... Hail Mary to Drew Pearson.

#7 -- 1972 NFC semis: Cowboys 30, 49ers 28 ... Staubach led 17-point 4th quarter.

#8 -- 2003 Wild Card: 49ers 39, Giants 38 (NFC wild card, Jan. 5, 2003). Yes, I have a thing for comebacks.

#9 -- 1962 Texans 17, Oilers 14 (Double OT) ("We'll kick to the clock...") (okay, this may be cheating -- it was the AFL title game).

* There have been other great Title games that should be considered. The 1945 game between the Rams and Redskins, for example, decided by a safety called when Sammy Baugh's pass bounced off the goal post (weird rule!).

Reading. I finished reading Avenger by Frederick Forsythe -- very good book, one I'd recommend.

Now I'm reading Hidden Gospel How the Search for Jesus Lost Its Way by Philip Jenkins.

And am listening to Sharpe's Trafalgar.
This doesn't surprise me, on the other hand. BYU "edits" the tatoos of a student's body? If you've ever been to a "religious" school, I submit you've seen this kind of thing.

Of course, Wisconsin did something similar a few years back, except it was an addition, not a removal. [Article with pix.]
Dean's Troubles. I'm slighty surprised this story, about Gov. Dean's personal support of a wife beater, and this story, about his letter arguing for unilateral action, aren't getting more attention.

No, I don't like Dean -- GWB will destroy him in Nov. if he procures the nomination -- and that won't be good for anyone, IMO.

Just so you know my bias -- had Lieberman been on top of the Democratic Ticket in 2000, instead of Gore, I would've voted for him.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Driver's Fallacy. Volokh co-conspirator Tyler Cowen, raises and then answers (I believe) a philosophical problem today. He posits (in part)
In my lifetime as a driver, I stand some (fairly low) chance of killing an innocent pedestrian. Few people would argue that I should be prohibited from driving. Assume, however, that science prolongs (fit) human life forever, at least unless you are struck down by a car. My chance of killing an innocent pedestrian then would approach certainty, given that I plan to continue driving throughout an eternal life. In fact I could be expected to kill very many pedestrians. Should I then be prohibited from driving?
The problem is more a statistical one. It's the "Gambler's fallacy" or the "overdue hitter." I suspect Cowen knows this and is playing with us because he later states "Measuring the bundled risk appears to imply absurd consequences, such as banning driving for people with sufficiently long lives." And yet again, "Imagine an involuntary game of Russian roulette with very many chambers in the gun, played very many times against me. The chance of my death from any single firing is very small, but surely we would prohibit such a game, looking at the high overall risk of the bundle." The Russian roulette example is a good one. If you play with a six chamber revolver, five chambers empty, one loaded and spin each time, your chances, in theory, are that you will survive 5/6 of the time. However, if you don't spin, then your chances decrease with every empty click until, with one chamber left, the certainty is 100%.

Or, to put it another way, will Cowen's everlasting man have a 100% chance of winning the lottery (grand prize) at sometime in this infinite life if he buys a dollar ticket every day? Believe it or not, the answer is no.

Or is this like the infinite monkeys finally pounding out a fair and equitable tax code?

(Or did I miss Cowen's point completely?)

More. See also, Bruce Cleaver comments here.

Tyler Cowen has more here.
And then there was one. Now every team but the Raiders have a head coach. No surprise here.

I am a little surprised that no one picked up Jim Fassel, less so about Dan Reeves (just because he's been fired by the Giants and the Falcons, so fewer opportunities). Reeves would've been good for the Nebraska job.

These are the candidates, in order of likelihood of being hired:
  • Art Shell. Al Davis said that firing Shell was the biggest mistake he ever made.
  • Romeo Crennel, Patriots defensive coordinator
  • Maurice Carthon Cowboys Offensive Coordinator
  • Jim Fassel former Giants head coach and one-time Raiders assistant (1995).
  • Sean Payton Cowboys QB Coach
  • Charlie Weis, Patriots offensive coordinator
  • Al Saunders Chiefs Offensive Coordinator. Al Davis just pumped him for info. Opposition research.
  • Wade Phillips Falcons Interim Head Coach. May end up as defensive coordinator.
  • Rick Neuheisel. Cross John Gruden with Pete Rose.
  • Amy Trask CEO, Oakland Raiders. Al Davis likes to be a maverick, so first female head coach? Don't put it past him (plus he likes to promote from within).
  • Disobedience? Today's WaPo exclusive! is interesting, but not as earth-shattering as the Post tries to spin it:
    Episcopalians who oppose the consecration of a gay bishop are preparing to engage in widespread disobedience to church law in 2004, according to a confidential document outlining their strategy.
    As the letter* notes, the idea is to be obedient to the faith handed down, even if it runs contrary to a handful of heretic bishops and their country-club deputies.

    Where was the Post with a story like this in the years, oh, 1990 to 2003:
    Episcopalians who oppose the historic and Scriptual teaching on marriage and sexuality are preparing to engage in widespread disobedience to church law until they get their way, according to a confidential document outlining their strategy.

    *The Post has the letter here, in .pdf format.

    More. See Kendall Harmon's extensive comments and links, here.

    Monday, January 12, 2004

    I Wonder What His Wife Thinks? According to the Beeb, a Cambridge University Prof. is trying to get lust reclassified as a "virtue."

    Sorry, Prof., there's a big separation from the Song of Solomon to "adultery in the heart."

    Sunday, January 11, 2004

    Thoughts on Plano East. [This has been "revised and extended," see below.]

    It went very well. My only disappointment was that there were two people I was really hoping to meet, but didn't. The group was large (well, for a conference like this): just over 3,000.

    Here's the link to the WaPo's article. It's not bad -- although, it's evident the reporter clearly missed the purpose of the meeting (we "gathered in Northern Virginia this weekend to express their outrage over the consecration of a gay bishop" No, not at all). [The WaPo wasn't the only one to get it wrong -- the headline in the WaTimes categorized the group as "angry.")

    Revised and Extended

    The first thing I would like to tell you, if you weren't there, is that it was a truly wonderful experience. The service of Holy Eucharist on Friday evening was like a preview of heaven. It started with a time of praise music and then, after a very brief introduction, there was a processional consisting of two hymns and a ton of ministers processing. The first hymn was a sentimental favorite of ours -- Praise to the Lord the Almighty -- was a hymn we sand at our wedding.

    Speaking of which, we ran into a bridesmaid from our wedding there which was a huge surprise -- it had been about 6 years since I last saw her and I wasn't aware she had begun going to an Episcopal church. She lives about 4 hours away from us now -- we were all friends in college and had been in the same small group. How wonderful it was to see her and so many other old friends that we hadn't seen in ages. Some folks we just saw in passing, but yet just seeing a glimpse of them was wonderful.

    In some ways, this compensated for the new friends I missed seeing, although that was still a disappointment. I had been trying to get in touch with Robert Bauer, but I arrived at the meeting place about 10 minutes too late. (In sort of a weird coincidence, we were having dinner with Jean Gruhn, who seemed to be the only lay participant attending quoted in the WaPo article.)

    But back to the Eucharist -- part of the reason for it being like a foretaste of heaven, was that I was able to be with fellow believers, worshiping our Lord, without an agenda, yet with a common purpose. You see, for those of us there, the words we pray, sing, and affirm actually mean something. We don't have to "translat[e] them into [our] own language" (i.e. mutilate them beyond comprehension).

    But that was just a small reason for being a small sample of heaven. There was the blend of styles -- "low" pentecostal and "high" catholic.

    There was the old friends and new friends and as yet undiscovered friends.

    There was power and glory. Yet not the kind of power wielded by the ECUSA establishment or the kind of glory misappropriated by Gene Robinson and his followers. The power was akin to the power of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost (and notice too, the paralel numbers between those present at P-E and those baptised on Pentecost.

    Rev. Guernsey welcomed us. The NYT had this quote:
    "We're not simply against something," Mr. Guernsey said. "We're not a bunch of cranky reactionaries. But we reject the idea that acceptance means we need to approve of every behavior."

    Bishop Duncan had a wonderful and challeging sermon, which Kendall Harmon posted on-line.

    At the end of the evening, we collected our kids, who were on fire about the kids events -- they were just bubbling over with excitement. Well the number one daughter wasn't, but part of that was because they had the high-school aged kids outside in a tent and the outdoor temperature was 22F -- so it was freezing in the tent. (BTW, she had a wonderful time asking me if I'd met any of my "Idiot" friends. To which I reminded her, she is the "idiot" daughter.) [Also, I want to note for my own record of this, that the temperature the next morning was 8 and windy -- I think the high that day was in the upper teens. Maybe this is what I get for having teased Cap'n Yip last week about the cold.]

    Saturday morning began with Morning Prayer and an address by John Yates. I lost count of the number of times my wife turned to me during his address saying "He's wonderful." Yes, he is. I wish his talk was on-line -- I don't see it. In brief, it was a clear explanation as to why Scripture matters. The WaTi had this quote:
    "If it's our claim to submit to Christ, we must submit to scriptural authority as well," he said. "We dare not say, as one of our bishops said, 'Well, we wrote them, we can rewrite them.' Or, as another bishop said, 'We need a new Christianity for a new world.' "

    Next was Kendall Harmon. Awesome. His address is here not posted yet. It is very similar to the one he delivered at the first Plano conference, here.

    Then came the panels and the first up was Rev. Thomas Logan, [text] of Calvary Episcopal Church in DC. He began by singing "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." We all joined in. He then noted the paucity of "Afro-Americans"* robed and processing the night before. There were just three. Whose fault was this -- he didn't dwell on finger-pointing, but noted that the supporters of sexually active gay ordination had sought to piggyback their efforts on the civil rights struggles and in doing so had abandoned what the Bible tells us [is] so. It is not "inclusiveness" that will save us, but Jesus who will save us. "How do we know this? we know this because," he pauses and holds up his Bible and the crowd yells back: "The Bible tells us so." The Word of God which contains the message of hope has gotten the Afro-Americans through the darkest days. He acknowledges that he has not dwelt on these issues because he has been looking after the immediate safety of the folks on the block surrounding Calvary; this stuff all seemed like it was for the white churches. But how can he say to the kids (and even the married) to not engage in extra-marital sex when the Episcopal church has a Bishop doing just that? He proceeded to preach in a manner which elicits our response: How do I know there is a healing power in Jesus? because "The Bible tells me so." and he continues from there -- I was not taking notes, I was rocking as he was preaching. His fiery (but too short) homily concluded by noting that we need to let the light of the Word of God, the light of Jesus, shine in our lives, in our neighborhoods, in our churches in our diocese, in 815, in Lambeth Palace. He concludes in song: "This Little Light of Mine."

    Kendall came back again, as the next panelist and was asked to distinguish between the Robinson ordination and the ordination of women. Kendall began by indicating this was a little difficult for him and I began to wonder if he is opposed to women's ordination as well. [text] In any event, he noted the fact that women's ordination was poorly handled in the US (a woman about 15 rows in front of me yelled out a loud Amen) as opposed to the way it has been handled in England. [If you have read anything I've written, you know I am a strong supporter of women's ordination, but I agree with Kendall on this. Phillip Turner had a good piece in First Things last November, that explained the problems in passing.] He then distinguished, in brief, the fact that homosexual practices in the Bible have been consistently condemned as sinful, whereas the record on the ordination of women is mixed (that is there is sufficient textual evidence for women's ordination and sufficient on which to oppose it). [I am trying and failing to be brief -- sorry.]

    Diane Knippers was next, speaking as President of the Institute of Religion and Democracy. She addressed the Three Myths which were spread in Minneapolis and elsewhere regarding the issues surrounding the Robinson ordination and "blessings" proposals: (1) This is the Future. On the contrary, this thinking is "so 20th Century." [okay, that's not how she put it, but that's the effect.] This is something that arose 40 years or more ago, has been tried and found wanting. On the contrary, it is the timeless standards of Scriptures that matters. (2) Second myth is that "We're doing this for the Poor and Oppressed ?" Again, thel victims of the 20th Century sexual revolution are racial minorities, the poor, and our children. (3) The third myth is that [whine on]"You're undermining Christian Unity" [whine off]. The truth is that General Convention dealt a terrible blow to Christian unity. Relations with the wider Anglican Communion, the Orthodox Churches, Roman Catholics, evangelicals, charismatic, and so on, were broken; shattered. "Denominational lines do not mark the boundaries of Christendom." The big lie is that one must choose between truth and unity. They are the different sides of the same coin, she said. She closed with this wonderful quote, repeated slowly twice so as to be recalled: "Genuine truth defines our unity, genuine unity protects the Truth."


    Next was Martyn Minns, rector of Truro Church, speaking on "The Network" Since his talk is on-line, here, I'd direct you to read it in it's entirety. It is important. My only comment would be on the name: Network of Confessing Dioceses and Parishes. I prefer the Confessing Anglican Network of America ("CANA") -- as in the place where our Lord took stagnant water and turned it into wine.

    Senior attorney, ?minence grise, Hugo Blankingship, former chancellor of the Diocese of Virginia, current chancellor of the AAC, and an incredibly well respected attorney spoke next. (Address online here.) He pointed out that most of the law suits have been filed by "liberal" dioceses against the moderate and conservative parishes. His aim and hope is to resolve these differences peacefully and without resort to litigation. Like all good lawyers, he sees that litigation only profits the lawyers. [I recall a divorce case I reviewed over 15 years ago that was like the War of the Roses -- both parties consumed over a million dollars on attorneys fees and came out impoverished.]

    Here we were running over and broke for lunch. I picked up the kids (well, some of them -- Debbie got Emilie) and they were so enthusiastic about the kids programs. I must emphasize that these were wonderful (a thousand thank yous to all those who worked so hard on this for the kids!).

    We headed over to Amy's (the bridesmaid, mentioned above) parents house for lunch. It was good to catch up on old times, briefly with her parents, and we got to meet some other friends -- I spoke with an attorney from Coinjock, NC.

    After lunch the focus was on missions (I was back late, after dropping off kids). Reversing the "...Jerusalem, ... Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" formula, it went from broad to narrow, beginning with the international frontier.

    What was stressed was that the new network wanted to make missions it first priority, and therefore was doing this to make it part of the organizational DNA.

    Rev Tad de Bordenave, Director of Anglican Frontier Missions stressed that missions must remain a priority. We should be known as the missionary church. We do the work of the Great Commission well, but we need to focus as well on the word "all" in the great commission. The goal of AFM is to reach out to "the ends of the earth, the areas of the world where the church has not yet been established."

    Jim Oakes spoke for Five Talents. Now here, I must confess -- I had a long week and, well, I had my Eutychus moment. Thankfully, I was not sitting in a third story window.

    The next thing I knew, Edwina Thomas of Sharing of Ministries Abroad ("SOMA") was speaking. According to my wife, she told a powerful story of a church that was built in the heart of a town in Pakistan; a Muslim stronghold. She was taken up to the top of the building and was shown some bullet holes. It seems that when the church building was finished the time came for them to place the cross on top. The congregation gathered and one went up to place the cross. As he put it into place, he was shot, and fell to his death. After some time another went up to place the cross and he too was shot. This was repeated, as Ms. Thomas could see by the holes. Finally, the Muslims stopped shooting; they realized that the Christians wouldn't stop, they would keep at it, keep raising the cross. She said the cross is still there to this day. And the bullet holes bearing witness to those who gave their life for the spread of the gospel.

    We then broke into small groups for intercessory prayer and prayers of repentance.

    After this, the meeting turned to the local and personal levels of mission.

    First up was Alpha, developed by Nicky Gumbel, this was presented by Jenny Noyes. Alpha is simple and honest, and effective. It is "friendship-based evangelism" meeting over a period of weeks presenting the Gospel in a non-threatening and very open manner. It allows all questions, from the simple to the complex and works with you where you are.

    Bob Ragan spoke from his heart (indeed, as did all) with respect to how God's love changes people. Bob is the head of Regeneration and has been with Exodus International reaching out to persons trapped in a life of sexual sin. He spoke of truth and lies. It is a lie that sexuality is genetically determined, he said, science has not proven the existence of a "gay gene." He cited studies of identical twins; persons who have the exact same DNA, yet one may be "gay" the other straight." Moreover, the studies which lay claim to a "gay gene" are not repeatable. What found interesting is when he said that he does not speak of "healing" which you might think of as the healing of a paper cut. The reality is more like being hit by a Mack truck going a hundred miles and hour and having to put the pieces of the person back together (Here, like for most of this, I'm paraphrasing -- he may have said an 18 wheeler instead of Mack truck, but you get the idea). Instead of "healing" he speaks of "sanctification." Amen, I think, as this idea hits me and sinks in. It is a process that we are all undergoing ("work out your salvation in fear and trembling" Paul writes in Phil. 2:12). How do we determine success for those who are broken? We all go through the sanctification; we all go through death-styles that Jesus brought us out of in His redemption. There is no overnight change.

    He said that he constantly gets asked two questions, one being something like, "do you still struggle? are you still tempted" He said he is posessed by temptation, but he must maintain his physical and spiritual health, daily readings and prayer; if he doesn't he becomes vulnerable. It's not just sexual, it's emotional and it's that way for all of us who are tempted and vulnerable. (I really wish his talk were posted on-line, I'm afraid, I'm not doing it justice.) When he concluded, he received a standing ovation.

    Steve Schlossberg, the director of the Lamb Center, an outreach to the homeless near Fairfax Circle spoke last in this group. steve spoke, as he always does with elegance and grace, although in many respects it's not there on the surface. He's a big man, with a chisled chin and curly black hair. He speaks with a New York accent and always from his heart. He told us there was a problem in our church [referring to Truro]: strangers came to the church with needs and left as strangers. Strangers don't come to the Episcopal Church. So, the Lamb Center was created and run by a number of churches in the Fairfax City area. There is a table where people are met, food is shared, coffee is poured, the Bible is read, people receive prayer. People come in as strangers to one another, to county services, to the church and to themselves - people are met. needs and all. Then he told us what we needed to hear: we need these people who enter the Lamb Center. They may be strangers, but they are our neighbors and while they need what the Lamb Center provides, that's only half of it. Actually, he said, maybe sixty percent of it is that we need them. We will perish without them. "They are broken, and they know it; we are broken and we forget it."

    Stop -- hear that: "They are broken, and they know it; we are broken and we forget it." This is why God calls us to care for the poor - we need to know our own poverty.

    He continued: when we meet those who know poverty; we are going to be changed; carried to the foot of the cross by the people we came to save.

    When we meet people on the street we think they are very good at surviving. It is impossible to not admire how they survive. But it's impossible to keep that admiration up because they are not surviving, they are not living; they are dying. Steve concluded saying that they show us that one temptation is to go into survival mode and not really live. We were admonished not to do that.

    Last on this panel was Rev. Tom Herrick, the Vicar of Christ the Redeemer, speaking on Church Planting. [No notes now, I'm going on way too long.]

    We broke again for a time of prayer, then turned to the next generation. The speakers were David Young, Youth Leader from Christ the Redeemer; Ashley Barker. a student at William & Mary and member of All Saints Episcopal Church; and Christopher Douglas a sophmore at West Springfield High School and member of Church of the Apostles. ("Awake O sleeper").

    This session was concluded with worship and prayer for those under the age of 22.

    The closing address was by Martyn Minns, and may be found on-line here.

    Bishop Gerard Mpango the Diocese of Western Tanganyika, Tanzania gave the final blessing. First, he reminded us that "there are 45 million Anglicans standing with you and praying for you." Wow. What an event. Praise God!

    * I found it interesting he used the phrase "Afro-Americans" instead of the more prevalent "African-American." This was the usuage favored by Justice Thurgood Marshall (see this dissent, for example) and seems to be more accurate, if you are going to use such terminology.

    Still More. See this report, which contains a lot that I left out (and there is still more both of us left out!)