Saturday, December 29, 2007

HOI News' Top Story of 2007

Here's the story from HOI news. Sorry it took me so long to get it downloaded.

Again, two things strike us as funny: 1) That the whole story turned out to be about Whitney's blog and 2) that a comment I later corrected ("hundreds of hits") serves as the statistical justification for the story. Still, since the end of November through the end of December she is getting between one and two hundred hits a day during the week. And, just in case you were wondering, I don't think I've ever cracked one hundred.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

WHOI Ratings Shoot Through Roof While Airing Bennett Interview

Well, at least we were watching. It was kinda funny. The story ended up being about Whitney's blog! I had just mentioned the blog in an off-handed way, accidentally exagerating the number of hits on her blog even, but that became the focal point of the interview and story. We really weren't expecting that. I clarified later in the interview that it wasn't always "hundreds of hits a day", but that didn't make it on air. I had just been thinking of the hits she had the last several days with our latest announcement.

We'll try to post the video of the story of link to it soon.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The PK's

Austin made quite an impression this year at the Sunday Night Candlelights and Carols...but last year he was quite the ham as well....

Rush Does Not Heart Huckabee

E.J. Dionne has an interesting article in the Washington Post entitled "How Huckabee Scares the GOP." Here is what she says about the fracturing relationship between Evangelicals and the Republican machine:

"The rise of Mike Huckabee has put the fear of God into the Republican establishment. Its alarm has nothing to do with the Almighty.

"The Huckabee surge represents a break with what has been standard operating procedure within the GOP for more than a generation. Huckabee's evangelical Christian army in Iowa ignored the importuning of entrenched leaders of the religious right and decided to go with one of their own. "
"The former Arkansas governor has exposed a fault line within the Republican coalition. The old religious right is dying because it subordinated the actual views of its followers to short-term political calculations. The white evangelical electorate is tired of taking orders from politicians who care more about protecting the wealthy than ending abortion, more about deregulation than family values. "

"If you had to bet, you'd wager that the Republican establishment will eventually crush Huckabee. But the rebellion he is leading is a warning to Republicans. The faithful are restive, tired of being used, and no longer willing to do the bidding of a crowd that subordinates Main Street's values to Wall Street's interests."

And, the crushing has begun. Here is Rush today:

"RUSH: Yeah, that's why I haven't endorsed anybody. I'm waiting. I don't know how else I can do it. I realize that there are a lot of you out there: You got a candidate, and you think that if I got behind your candidate it would put 'em over the top, and you might be right. But, at this point, it's just an age-old belief that I have, and I remain true to my beliefs and principles. Now, some people have written me, "I hear you say this, but you're full of it. What about 2000 with Bush and McCain in South Carolina?" Special circumstance. You had a two-man race, and what was happening in South Carolina, McCain was going so far off the conservative reservation, so far off of it, that it was necessary to step in. Huckabee is getting close, I'm going to have to tell you. Huckabee's getting close to the same stuff. Huckabee is using his devout Christianity to mask some other things that are distinctively not conservative. He is against free trade. He's really doesn't believe in free market. Well, let me read what George Will wrote today. This is when I go along with "the DC-New York axis." But I just want to read from George Will's column, a paragraph today. "Huckabee's campaign actually is what Rudy Giuliani's candidacy is misdescribed as being -- a comprehensive apostasy against core Republican beliefs. Giuliani departs from recent Republican stances regarding two issues -- abortion and the recognition by the law of same-sex couples. Huckabee's radical candidacy broadly repudiates core Republican policies such as free trade, low taxes, the essential legitimacy of America's corporate entities and the market system allocating wealth and opportunity. [C]onsider New Hampshire's chapter of the National Education Association, the teachers union that is a crucial component of the Democratic Party's base. In 2004, New Hampshire's chapter endorsed Howard Dean in the Democratic primary and no one in the Republican primary. Last week it endorsed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary -- and Huckabee in the Republican primary." It likes Huckabee on education."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Truly Inspirational

Interview delayed until sweeps week

Due to overwhelming interest, WHOI has decided to postpone broadcast of the Bennett interview until next week. The decision was motivated by a desire to maximize ratings during the all important day-after-Christmas sweeps period. Or, it may have been postponed due to a reporter being ill.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I hope they get my good side...

Bennett TV is coming your way, perhaps, Thursday night at 10:00. WHOI channel 19 is doing a story on Guatemala adoptions and our family is scheduled to be interviewed tomorrow afternoon. If you watch it, just remember the camera adds 10 pounds.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

We're Out of PGN!

We're out of the final court in Guatemala! Our attorney will be getting her birthcertificate then we will set an appointment with the US embassy. We should be picking her up mid-January!

I'm sure Whitney will have some thoughts. I just wanted to beat her to the post, which I did by maybe 30 seconds.

Friday, December 14, 2007

"This is important"

The title is a quote from Whitney. She may have been being sarcastic.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What is Conservatism

The Heart of Conservatism

By Michael Gerson

WASHINGTON -- For many conservatives, the birthday of the movement is Nov. 1, 1790 -- the publication date of Edmund Burke's "Reflections on the Revolution in France." Burke described how utopian idealism could lead to the guillotine, just as it later led to the Gulag. He rejected the democracy of the mob and argued that social reform, when necessary, should be gradual, cautious and rooted in the habits and traditions of the community.

Some of Burke's contemporaries took these arguments further. "I am one of those who think it very desirable to have no reform," declared the Duke of Wellington. "I told you years ago that the people are rotten to the core." And this affection was returned. Wellington took to carrying an umbrella tipped with a spike to protect himself from protesters.

But there is another strain of conservatism with a birthday three years earlier than Burke's "Reflections." On May 12, 1787, under an English oak on his Holwood Estate, Prime Minister William Pitt pressed a young member of parliament named William Wilberforce to introduce a bill for the abolition of the slave trade. Wilberforce's research found that the holds of slave ships were, according to one witness, "so covered in blood and mucus which had proceeded from them in consequence of the (dysentery) that it resembled a slaughterhouse." Enslaved Africans on the ships attempted to starve themselves to death, or to jump into the ocean. Wilberforce thought this suffering a good reason for reform.

A later conservative, Lord Shaftesbury, fought against conditions that amounted to slavery in British factories, rescued child laborers from chimneys and mines, and worked for improved sanitary conditions in British slums. In 1853, for example, the citizens of Dudley, England, had an average age at death of 16 years and 7 months. "I feel that my business lies in the gutter," said Shaftesbury, "and I have not the least intention to get out of it."

Both Wilberforce and Shaftesbury considered themselves Burkean conservatives; Wilberforce was a friend of Burke's, and a fellow opponent of the French revolution's wild-eyed utopianism. Wilberforce and Shaftesbury were gradualists, not radicals. They hated socialism and rejected the perfectibility of man.

But both were also evangelical Christians who believed that all human beings are created in God's image -- and they were deeply offended when that image was degraded or violated. Long before compassionate conservatism got its name, the ideas of compassion and benevolence were central to their political and moral philosophy.

Other conservatives dismissed these reformers as "saints," prone to "fits of philanthropy." But according to historian Gertrude Himmelfarb, these saints and others like them achieved "something like a 'conservative revolution' -- a reformist revolution, so to speak -- that permitted Britain to adapt to industrialism, liberalism and democracy without the violence and upheavals that convulsed the Continent."

And Burke himself had a foot in this tradition. He was an early opponent of slavery, supported reforms to help debtors and opposed discrimination against Irish Catholics. He accused reactionary conservatives of defending "their errors as if they were defending their inheritance." He was deeply critical of those who refused to act because they thought nothing could be accomplished. Burke has been quoted as saying, "Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who does nothing because he could only do a little." In many ways, Burke was a bridge between conservatives of tradition and conservatives of moral passion.

This history is directly relevant to modern debates. In some conservative quarters we are seeing the return of Burkeanism -- or at least a narrow version of it. These supposed Burkeans dismiss the promotion of democracy and human rights as "ideological," the protection of human life and dignity as "theological," and compassionate conservatism as a modern heresy.

But the compassionate conservatism of Wilberforce and Shaftesbury is just as old as Burke, and more suited to an American setting. American conservatives, after all, are called upon to conserve a liberal ideal -- that all men are created equal. A conservatism that does not accommodate the "ideology" of the Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. will seem foreign to most Americans. A concern for the rights of the poor and vulnerable is not simply "theological"; it is a measure of our humanity. And skepticism in this noble cause is not sophistication; it seems more like exhaustion and cynicism.

A significant portion of Americans are motivated by a religiously informed vision of human dignity. For them, compassion is not merely a private feeling, but a public commitment -- as public as the abolition of slavery or the end of child labor. And they are looking, not for another Wellington, but for another Wilberforce.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Guatemalan Congress Approves Adoption Bill

So, the bill was approved by congress. The reports I'm hearing are positive, but I still haven't heard what ammendments were added to the bill to streamline the process for in-process cases. I truly hope that the passage of this law results in children in Guatemala being protected and provided for. I'm somewhat skeptical. Here's the AP story:

New Guatemala Adoption Law Approved

By JUAN CARLOS LLORCA – 47 minutes ago

GUATEMALA (AP) — Guatemalan legislators approved a new law Tuesday to tighten adoptions, while allowing pending adoptions — mostly to U.S. couples — to go through without meeting the stricter requirements.

The legislation had upset thousands of would-be parents who had invested their savings to adopt a child from Guatemala, which is second only to China in sending adoptive children to the United States. Many feared thousands of children would be left in limbo.

However, the law approved by Congress stipulates that pending adoptions, some 3,700 children already matched with prospective parents, will be allowed to move forward without being subject to the new rules.

The law, aimed at cleaning up an adoption process that critics say allows birth mothers to sell their babies, will take effect next year. It requires the signature of
President Oscar Berger.

"Starting Dec. 31, the business of adoptions is over," said lawmaker Rolando Morales, one of the measure's biggest supporters.

Adoptions in Guatemala are now handled exclusively by notaries who work with birth mothers, determine if babies were surrendered willingly, hire foster mothers and handle all the paperwork.

Notaries charge an average of $30,000 for children delivered in about nine months — record time for international adoptions. The process is so quick that one in every 100 Guatemalan children now grow up as an adopted American; Guatemala sent 4,135 children to the U.S. last year.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Please be praying...

The Guatemalan congress will be voting tomorrow (probably?) on legislation affecting in-process cases. It is very frustrating because the bill, like many aspects of this process, is unclear. We really don't know how its passage will affect in-process adoption cases. It requires in-process cases to register with an entity that doesn't yet exist. Please continue to pray for us and the people of Guatemala.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

23/6 SwiftKids: Hillary's Cookies

For those of you with longer than average political memories, here's a parody of the swift boat ads from 2004. What's funny is that some liberals seem to think these ads really are attacking Clinton.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

This is pretty amazing...

According to Rasmussen, Huckabee is surging...not only is he leading in Iowa...he's leading nationally.

This is great...

The church plant will follow this model.

Monday, December 3, 2007

KJV Only Advocate Stumps Romney

First of all, the way this question is asked had me rolling. It really reveals what CNN's sterotype of an evangelical Christian is: a KJV Bible thumper in Dallas, TX (and I mean THIS BOOK!).

Second, I love how Romney tries to answer, and in so doing looks like a souless suit on stage. And the pretty smile is great!

Fred Thompson Creeps Me Out

In case you missed it, here is the video Fred Thompson opted to run during the last Republican presidential "debate." It further solidifies my impression that Fred Thompson seems like a creepy old man. He's like that guy in the neighborhood that everyone is scared of and when you hit your ball into his yard it turns out that he really is mean and he keeps your ball instead of giving you a new one signed by Babe Ruth like James Earl Jones would do. Oh, and then he burns down your house.

Here is my non-professional assessment of the Republican candidates, in no particular order.

1. Fred Thompson: (see above). His attack on Romney and Huckabee was strange. There is a sense that Romney is a little spineless with no core convinctions except that he should wear that special Mormon underwear. It just seems that some Republicans are hopeful that he will be their spineless weasal for 4-8 years. So what good did it do Thompson to point it out again? His attack on Huckabee was pretty anti-climatic. I mean, Huckabee was in the public spotlight for decades and that's the clip they chose? Wow, that's hot stuff! Thomspon breaks Reagan's 11th commandment and in so doing so, looks very foolish.

2. Rudy Giuiani: He's shown little regard for commandments 1-10, so breaking the 11th was not that difficult. I can't believe that after the stunning-and well deserved losses-in 2006 due to ethical "lapses" that Republicans are looking to this guy to be their standard bearer. The stories will continue to pour in about his conduct as mayor and he won't make it much past Florida, I hope.

3. Mitt Romney: He's trying to fight a war on two fronts (Huckabee and Rudy G.). Social conservatives have put their hope in a false Messiah with this guy. He will continue to do what is politically expendient for himself until no longer in the public eye, a time which won't come soon enough to suit me.

4. John McCain: I actually like John McCain. I wish Republicans weren't punishing him for his "mistakes" on the immigration issue. He's a genuinely decent man who seems to have no shot to do anything significant in the primaries.

5. Mike Huckabee. Huckabee resonates with people because he can articulate his positions well. I personally like him the best of all the Republican candidates. Huckabee is able to explain his policies and decisions in ways I always wished Buh would. Of course, there is a fear that he would demonstrate all the fiscal discipline of a Bush administration (none). Personally, I think that his willingness to consider expenidtures and revenues simultaneously makes him more appealing, not less. Too often, Republicans want to just focus on cutting revenue and Democrates want to focus on increasing expenditures. (Greenspan's new book offers a scathing critique on the squandered opportunities of the 90s. I'll try to write a post on that soon.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What we did this morning

The kids wanted to make a movie, so we put this together this morning.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sabbatical Update: Family Times

Over the past few weeks, we've had some neat family time. Here's a few snapshots...


The picture above was taken at Mt. Vernon minutes before I was told very forcibly that I had to remove Noah from my shoulders due to safety concerns. Ironically, as I took him down I dropped him on his head. Here he is below, fully recovered except for his sense of balance.

We stayed with Whitney's Aunt Joyce, who was a very gracious host.

I'm not really sure what's going on in this picture. This kid just loves to be goofy.
The thing the kids wanted to do in Washington D.C. more than anything else was visit the Lincoln Memorial. Here we are.TENNESSEE
After our time in D.C., we headed down to Tennessee to see my Grandparents and cousins. My grandmother, of course, is the famous "Grammy." Here she is at her computer with Austin, possibly preparing to comment on my blog. Further below are pictures of the grandparents and cousins with the kids.
After Tennessee, Whitney and I dropped the kids off in Texas and spent some time in Florida together. TEXAS
We arrived back in Texas at the beginning of November and have been here ever since. I've been visiting churches and interviewing people. Sunday we went down to San Antonio with my parents as an early Christmas present. On Tuesday, we went to Sea World and came back yesterday.
Due to the expense of hotel rooms, we rented a drawer for Noah in some stranger's room.

Noah also loved the animals. He went crazy hugging everything in sight.

The funniest part of the trip was watching the 4-D Pirates show. This picture was taken moments before the screaming began.

Hannah kept us from getting lost.

Here we are at the obligatory stop at the Alamo.

The first night we stopped by at "Skateboard Hill", near one of the homes we lived at in San Antonio. It was neat to see the kids enjoying skateboarding where I had spent so many Sunday afternoons.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Sugar, Sugar

I think this means something....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Guess who went running along the Potomac river? (& UPDATE)

Uh...that would be Whitney and me. We had a great time in D.C with Whitney's aunt. We left yesterday and had a brunch with a friend who is now attending Liberty University. We're in Tennessee this morning and saw this on JCICS' website. There are a lot of people out there making statements and they are by far the most reliable. Bottom line: Things are still in flux but Berger, UNICEF, and the Guatemala government seem to be backing down. Keep contacting your representatives!

JCICS' statement:

Monday, October 22, 2007
This past week saw much activity including continued direct dialogue with UNICEF and the Office of President Oscar Berger. We once again thank the adoptive parent community, our friends and our professional colleagues for everyone’s continued support.

United States Congress
Joint Council is very pleased to report that as of Friday October 19, 2007, 70 Members of the United States House of Representatives and 28 Members of the United States Senate have agreed to sign the letters to President Oscar Berger, UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman, and UNICEF Guatemala Executive Director Manuel Manrique. With three days remaining until the deadline for signing the letters, we expect to have the support of well over 100 Congressional offices. As we reported last week…your voice is being heard! The deadline for Members of Congress to register their support is Wednesday, October 24th. We anticipate the letters to be sent to President Berger, Executive Director Veneman, and UNICEF Guatemala Executive Director Manuel Manrique on or around October 29th.

Given the ongoing nature of our initiative, we do not yet know the names of those Representatives and Senators that have agreed to sign the letters. We ask that you contact your three members of Congress no later than Wednesday, October 24th and, ask if they have agreed to support the Guatemala 5000 Initiative by signing all three letters. If they have, simply thank them for their support. If not, ask that they support the Guatemala 5000 Initiative by agreeing to sign onto the letters.

For those Congressional offices needing additional information, please refer Members of the House of Representatives to Mr. Chip Gardiner in Congressman Oberstar’s office or Tad Bardenwerper in Congresswoman Brown-Waite’s office and Members of the Senate to Ms. Lauren Bocanegra in Senator Landrieu’s office or Andy Burmeister in Senator Coleman’s office. They can also contact Ms. Nicole Vitale at the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

President Oscar Berger
As you may know, statements by President Oscar Berger and Guatemalan Congressman Roberto Morales were reported in the Guatemalan press this past week. Some have interpreted these statements to be the official support of the Guatemalan government for the completion of all in-process adoptions under the current law and procedures. Joint Council has chosen to withhold its assessment until a transparent and expeditious process for completing the in-process adoptions has been published by the Berger administration.

To date the terms by which an adoption would be considered “in-process” and the process/timeline by which the children’s adoptions will be completed have not been published. Given the volatile nature of Guatemalan adoptions and the current political environment within Guatemala, Joint Council does not consider it prudent to rely on vague and conflicting statements by various officials. Until such time that President Berger publishes clear definitions and a transparent process for legally and expeditiously completing the adoptions for all children having been referred to a family, we will continue to advocate on behalf of the children we serve.

On October 15th, Joint Council participated in a panel discussion with UNICEF Guatemala Director Manuel Manrique, UNICEF Consultant Kelley Bunkers and adoptive parent and journalist Elizabeth Larsen during the Adoption Ethics and Accountability conference in Washington DC. In continuing our ongoing dialogue with UNICEF, Joint Council has been invited to meet with UNICEF officials beginning next month at UNICEF headquarters in New York.

A point of clarification for adoptive parents:
It was indicated by UNICEF representative Manuel Manrique both at the conference and
subsequent interview with National Public Radio, that the announcement attributed to President Berger (noted in Joint Council’s Guatemala 5000 initiative) did not actually occur and the initiative itself unnecessary. Joint Council firmly stands by our statement and ongoing support of Guatemalan children via the Guatemala 5000 Initiative.

As reported by the United States Department of State, the Guatemalan government informed the U.S. Department of State of its intent. As the head of the Guatemalan government, we believe that President Berger is responsible for the information his government relays to the United States government and should be held accountable.

Joint Council believes that using diversionary and misleading tactics do not advance the best interest of Guatemalan children. We again call on all parties to refrain from such strategies and focus our energies on ensuring that all children referred to families are permitted to complete their adoptions in a legal and timely manner.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

AP Story Update

We're in Washington D.C. tonight, but just saw this AP report....

Guatemalan president says he's not trying to stop U.S. families from adopting babies

The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
GUATEMALA CITY: Guatemalan President Oscar Berger said Tuesday that his government is simply working to make adoptions more secure and not trying to interfere with U.S. families already in the process of adopting some 3,700 children from the Central American nation.

Guatemalan lawmakers are debating how to fulfill their promise to comply by Jan. 1, 2008, with the Hague Convention, the international standard for legal adoptions. A key requirement is the creation of a centralized adoption-monitoring agency.

Would-be parents — many of whom spend US$30,000 (€21,000) or more to adopt Guatemalan babies — are on edge, worrying that adoptions already in process will be blocked by the impending legislation. But Berger denied that.

"I have never said that I want to stop the adoptions," Berger told The Associated Press. "All my government wants is for the adoptions law that is about to pass to be respected and for Guatemala to comply with the Hague Convention."

U.S. families adopted 4,135 Guatemalan children last year, making the Central American nation second only to China as a source of babies for American couples. One in every 100 Guatemalan babies born annually is adopted by U.S. families, thanks to a speedy private adoption system in which notaries handle the entire process, from scouting for pregnant women to filing all the paperwork.

The Hague Convention requires that a government agency control the process, not independent notaries.

It remains unclear exactly what parents who are already adopting Guatemalan babies will have to do to comply with the new rules. But Rep. Rolando Morales, one of the main backers of the adoption bill in Congress, also said adoptions under way won't be blocked.

"All we ask for is an investigation to make sure that the woman giving the baby up is the biological mother and that the infant was not obtained under coercion or, worse, stolen," Morales said.

"We don't believe an adoption should cost more than US$7,000 (€5,000)," he added. "The difference is the profit the lawyer makes."

UNICEF's Guatemala office also wants cases already in process to be re-examined to ensure that babies were not stolen or obtained under duress. And the U.S. State Department has warned U.S. families not to adopt from Guatemala until the U.S. Embassy can examine each case more thoroughly. The embassy recently began requiring DNA tests at the beginning and the end of each adoption to verify the child's identity.

In response, a notaries' lobbying group has run radio ads praising adoption as a way to get children out of orphanages and help those living on the street. Meanwhile, adoptive parents have deluged U.S. government offices with calls and e-mails calling for Guatemalan adoptions to continue.

Guatemalan lawmakers are determined to pass the bill before the nation's presidential elections on Nov. 4.

President Berger's Statement

The following was taken from JCIS's website. It apparently is Berger's statement that they were reluctant to publish. I think they should have left it unpublished....

PLEASE NOTE: The text below is a statement from President Berger’s
administration, as it was sent to the Joint Council on International
Children’s Services via email.

1. El Presidente de la República de Guatemala, Oscar Berger Perdomo, NO ha
emitido declaración alguna en cuanto a que se suspenderán en Guatemala
todas las adopciones internacionales.
1. The President of Guatemala, Oscar Berger Perdomo, has NOT issued a
statement about the suspension of all intercountry adoptions.

2. El Presidente Berger apoya una nueva ley de adopciones (Iniciativa 3217),
que regula los procesos de adopción, otorga más certeza jurídica a una
institución social noble como lo es la adopción y es acorde a los estándares de
la Convención de la Haya.
2. President Berger supports a new adoption’s law (Initiative 3217), which
regulates the adoption processes, will give more judicial certainty to a social
noble institution, as the adoption, and which will be in accordance to the Hague

3. Los niños guatemaltecos que están en proceso de adopción, son menores
bajo protección y amparo de la Constitución, y por lo tanto, el Estado de
Guatemala tiene el derecho y la obligación de velar por el interés superior de
ellos. Por esto, se promueve una ley en armonía con el Convenio de la Haya y
que procure adopciones dignas, seguras y sobre todo, con certeza jurídica.
3. Guatemalan children, who are going through an adoption process, are minors
under the protection and shelter of the Guatemalan Constitution, hence, the
State of Guatemala has the right and obligation to assure their best interest.
Therefore, the Government supports a new adoptions law, in harmony with the
Hague Convention, that will foster secure and dignified adoptions and above all
adoptions with judicial certainty.

4. A partir del 31 de diciembre de 2007, es intención manifiesta del Estado de
Guatemala que el Convenio de la Haya en materia de Adopción Internacional,
sea aplicado en Guatemala, tal y como lo refleja el decreto Legislativo No. 31-
2007. A partir de esta fecha, TODAS LAS ADOPCIONES desde Guatemala
deberán cumplir con los estándares de la Convención de la Haya.
4. As from December 31st 2007, it is the will of the Goverment of Guatemala,
that the Hague Convention on International Adoptions, enters in force, as
reflected on the Legislative Decree No.31-2007. From this date, ALL
ADOPTIONS from Guatemala must meet the Hague Convention standards.

5. El Congreso de la República de Guatemala está por aprobar la Ley de
Adopciones (Iniciativa 3217, con enmiendas). SI se aprueba esta ley, esta
regulará la forma como serán resueltos los casos de adopción pendientes o
que ya están en proceso.
5. The Congress of the Republic of Guatemala will soon pass the Adoptions
Law (Initiative 3217, with amendments). IF this law is approved, this will
regulate the procedure for the pending adoption cases or adoption cases which
are already in-process.

6. El Gobierno de Guatemala ha nominado a la Secretaría de Bienestar Social
como la Autoridad Central para las adopciones (Acuerdo Gubernativo 260-
2007). La Autoridad Central emitirá un comunicado respecto a los procesos de
adopciones en los próximos días, el cual será dado a conocer a las autoridades
internacionales por los canales oficiales.
6. The Government of Guatemala has nominated the Social Welfare Secretariat
(Secretaria de Bienestar Social) as the Central Authority for adoptions
(Government Accord 260-2007). The Central Authority will issue an official
statement regarding adoption processes in the next few days, which will be sent
and notified to international authorities, through official channels.

7. El Gobierno de Guatemala reitera que está a favor de las adopciones con
todos los países y familias que GARANTICEN una vida segura y digna para los
niños guatemaltecos. El Gobierno de Guatemala no tolerará procesos de
adopciones fuera de la ley.
7. The Government of Guatemala reaffirms that it is in favor of adoptions with
all countries and families that will GUARANTEE a secure and dignified life for
the Guatemala children, but it will not tolerate adoption processes outside the

Monday, October 15, 2007

Andy Popping into Frame

Guatemala Adoptions Update

The phone calls have been effective...but there seems to be a long way to go still. Here's the most recent update from JCIS:

Since Joint Council's call to action on September 27th, thousands of adoptive parents along with Joint Council Member Organizations, our colleagues at the National Council for Adoption, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Adoptive Families magazine and the public at large have lent their support to the Guatemala 5000 initiative. We are pleased to provide you with the attached summary update including our most recent direct communications with the Office of Guatemalan President Oscar Berger. On behalf of the children we serve, our heartfelt thanks to all who have contributed to the collective effort.

Please know that Joint Council will continue to update you on our ongoing efforts and all pertinent developments. As events unfold, we may be calling upon the entire community for support and action. Lastly, please know that Joint Council will continue the Guatemala 5000 initiative until all children referred with adoptive parents have joined their forever family.
There is a more detailed update here:

It sounds like President Berger is still the real hold up. Pray for a softening of his heart or for the congress to go against him. There may be a new president by the time the amendment is voted on, and I have no idea how that affects things?!?!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Romney's Real Record

Wow...the Log Cabin Republicans and I may not have much in common, but I guess we both dodn't like Mitt Romney for wildly different reasons.

This is a strange seems to be directed to people like me, using statements Romney made when he agreed with people like them.

Update, Musings, and Thanks

Pictured above is Ronald McDonald (left) and the president of Guatemala Oscar Berger (right). Berger is persona non grata among adoption families right now. I can understand some of UNICEF's oppossition to adoption (this could get me in trouble with some guatemamas) because it is at least based on some decent principles. From my limited understanding of Guatemalan politics, this guy is just a creep. His exploitation of the poor in his country is pathetic and tragic. His--and his wife's--opposition to adoption doesn't make sense until you follow the dollar signs.

There were some great comments on the blog that ran this picture,

"Clowns are SO scary!!!!And that geek with the red hair is a bit upsetting, too."

"I do however find it odd that these two are together since their agendas for children are so wants make sure kids eat garbage and the other wants to make sure they don't eat at all."

I don't really check out the adoption blogs, usually, because I find it suprisingly hard to identify with these people. We seem to be passionate about the same things (children) but for really different reasons. The aforementioned blog had some great lines, however. This blogger, LisaS., is a great writer. Here's her concluding paragraph to her latest post:

When the Bergers retire from office in January 2008, they will leave behind a legacy of social apathy. They will also have secured a notorious spot in the
adoption history of Guatemala because instead of implementing changes built on a
system that had many outstanding features, such as foster parents, they will
completely wipe it out only to replace it with adysfunctional substitute.

A few thoughts:

First, thank you so much for all of you who took the time to contact your representatives. I've never been a petition guy, but there is reason to believe that our state department and elected officials are putting some much needed pressure on the Guatemalan government.

Second, there's a lot of hatred out there for UNICEF among adopting parents. I may not understand the enitre situation, but I don't feel quite the same level of antipathy for them. Here's my two cents:

a) I agree with many of UNICEF's stated goals. We should be uneasy when a wealthy country begins to seemingly plunder children from a poor country. It's not enough to take children out of that situation...we need to rectify the underlying problems that have put children in such a terrible situation.

b) The problem is UNICEF's methodology and perhaps motives are not as pure as might be assumed. They are bribing elected officials in Guatemala to stop adoptions.

c) UNICEF seems blissfully unconcerned with the havoc stopping adoptions will have on the Guatemalan social structure, specifically the children. Do they really think that a country that allows its adoption system to be so corrupt will have the infrastructure to care for the children caught in the middle? It's preposterous.

Anyway, just some thoughts and updates. The sabbatical is going well. Here's just a brief recap:

1. I finished my DMin classwork last week for my current class.

2. This week, I have read about six or seven books on vision casting and the church.

3. I did several other things I will write more about when I come back from sabbatical.

4. I taught the kids how to play chess. This has been pretty crazy, but the kids have been playing chess a couple hours a day the past few days. They can't get enough of it. Now, they're very unorthodox players For example, Austin went on a tear with his king where he brought it down to Hannah's back row and went to town capturing don't see that everyday. They really are starting to get the basics down. Hannah is getting very good at seeing several moves ahead. On the downside, this makes her overly cautious. She won't move a piece if there is a possibility you could capture it in 3 moves. Austin, on the other hand, will sacrifice an infinite number of pieces to capture even your pawn. He is also really good at making sound effects. This makes it very interesting to watch them play each other.

5. Whitney and I have been preparing for our half-marathon. I did my 13 miler on Thursday. I tried to just take it easy and go at a steady pace. I'm not going to break any average mile time was 7:35. Whitney did her long run today and is pretty exhausted.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I called my senators again and spoke with their staff. The people I spoke with were much more pleasant today. I think they must be realizing this is important to a lot of people. Durbin's office said that he hadn't made a decision on signing the coalition's letter but that they "think" he sent a letter himself to Guatemala's president urging him to grandfather in families who are in process of adopting. Obama's office said he still hadn't made a decision, but that they had been receiving lots of calls. They also claimed that he would post a statement on his website eventually: Personally, with Hillary dominating the polls like she is, I think his time would be better spent working on the Guatemala thing than the presidential thing.

Today is the day to contact your elected representative....

Unless you also live in Illinois, your phone calls can't be as bad as mine. My senators are Dick Durbin and Barak Obama! Their offices were far from friendly...but they had already been receiving phone calls, so that's good.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Please contact your elected representatives (seriously)


As many of you know, Guatemala has been cracking down on corrupt adoption agencies. This is a real problem and does need to be addressed.

However, there are also many reputable foster homes and adoption agencies (such as our own) that are working to provide homes for children in need. Unfortunately, the president of Guatemala recently declared that all adoptions to countries that were non-Hauge compliant (such as US America) would stop January 1, 2008. He claimed that this would include cases in progress which is a dramatic change from previous communication from the Guatemalan government. This is obviously a great concern to us as Ellie may still be in the system come January 1!

I'd like to ask a favor of you...would you please contact your congressmen or senator today or tomorrow and ask them to sign the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) sponsored letter to President Oscar Berger? You can find out more about this letter and Guatemala 5000 initiative here:

In the last few days, it seems there has been some good news. Our state department, thanks to the efforts of many of you, has encouraged the Guatemala Children's committee to include a grandfather ammendment into some pending legislation. You can find out the detail on the aforementioned website, but the bottom line is that the pressure American citizens are putting on their government is being effective. The next 24 hours are critical to keeping up the pressure!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Guess who met John Piper?

Uh...that would be me.

This past weekend, we went to Minneapolis to visit Bethlehem (Piper's church) and Wooddale Church (Leith Anderson's church...he's the new president of the National Association of Evangelicals).

We went to the Saturday evening service at Bethlehem and were able to say hi to Pastor John after the service. I tried to just shake his hand and not take up too much of his time, but he was very gracious and asked about what brought us to Minneapolis, etc. He enjoyed hearing about Bethany Baptist and mentioned that he quotes Pastor Ritch frequently in his sermons, too.

The first week of sabbatical was very productive. I wrote about one hundred fifty pages combined for papers on my DMin class and finished going through a seminar called "The Nehemiah Strategy." The seminar is designed to help with long-term strategic planning.

I'm looking forward to week two!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Watch this second...

...and skip to about two minutes in.

Feist - 1 2 3 4

This is the song on the new ipod commercials. It reminds me of the "Here We Go Again" video in that the entire thing is a single take...even the end...right?

Sabbatical: Day One

My seven week sabbatical (plus some vacation time) began a little bit before six this morning. I went to the Central pool and swam a mile and a half then came back and had breakfast with the kids. After breakfast, we did a little cleaning and in a little while I'll begin working on some of my DMin papers. My goal is to finish at least a rough draft of my last paper today and begin editing.

A lot of people have asked what we're planning on doing on the sabatical so I thought I'd sketch at least a broad overview of our objectives:

Church Plant: Working on the church plant is the primary purpose of the sabbatical. I will be
doing so by visiting churches, vision casting, studying leadership development, laying out a four-year plan, and spending time daily just to brainstorm.

Personal Growth: I will be finishing some DMin work during this period as well. I'm going to try to knock this out within the first week. There are also quite a few books I'd like to read.

Family: I'm going to try to spend quite a bit of time with the family in the evenings especially. It will be nice to be able to not have a lot of things competing with our schedules. When we're in Texas, we plan on visiting lots of churches but also spending time with extended family. Whitney and I will take a vacation together and then run the White Rock Half Marathon in Dallas.

I'm not really a person who enjoys "relaxing," but I'll also try to decompress at least a little bit.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Don't Waste Your Cancer...

{check out my dad's blog:}

This past week, we found out that my dad has been diagnosed with stage 1 multiple myeloma. There's a lot I'd like to say, but I haven't really figured out how to express it yet. It has been very hard to process, but I remain convinced that God has not just allowed this to happen to my dad but appointed it. My dad and I are very close and of course I would not want him to go through this. At the same time, I know that he will use this to bring glory to God in a way that other people would not be able to do.

John Piper wrote an article entitled, "Don't Waste Your Cancer." You can view it here:

It is excellent and a great source of encouragement.

I think my dad's blog is evidence that he is not wasting this cancer...please check it out:

As Job says, "Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” and "Blessed be the name of the Lord."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

News:UF Student Tasered At John Kerry Speech

Three thoughts:

1. It's amazing how this is presented as a student being tasered for "asking a question."

2. It's a great example of how if you yell loudly enough you can make people believe anything. As he is pushing cops, he's yelling, "I'm not doing anything!" I like how after he pushes the security guy, he will throw his arms up in the air like he did nothing wrong.

3. The actual event lasted several minutes. This would have gone down much differently if I had been in charge of security:

Student: I'd like to ask a follow up quest...ahhhhh....why are you tasering me...ahhhhh...why are you tasering me again...ahhh...why are you laughing as you are tasering me {etc., etc., until he was no longer conscious and we could carry him out peacably.}

Monday, September 10, 2007

Miss Teen USA 2007 - South Carolina answers a question

I had heard about this but someone just sent me this In fairness to her, I think she just forgot the question.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Confessions of a Tooth Fairy.

In honor of Hannah losing her second tooth....

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Interesting Religious News

Two "religious" stories caught my eyes recently. The first deals with China and the Dali Lama. China recently passed a law regulating...I'm not making this up...where Buddhist monks can reincarnate. Buddhist monks must first receive official permission from the government before they reincarnate. The move is designed to allow China to pick the next Dali Lama. No word yet on how effective enforcement of the new law has been. The story can be found here:

You may be surprised to find that I personally support this regulation. I have always felt that reincarnation was far too "loosey-goosey". I propose that our government follow the bold initiative of our Chinese counterparts and regulate this practice. Think about the ramifications for our tax code alone. The death tax could be expanded to tax not just the individual when he/she dies but also when they are reincarnated.

The next story deals with Mother Teresa. Many of you may have read about her letters to her mentors that are being published in a book entitled, "Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the 'Saint of Calcutta." The letters chronicle the doubts she felt regarding her relationship with God. She writes things like:

"I have no Faith - I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart - & make me suffer untold agony,"

"Such deep longing for God and ... repulsed empty no faith no love no zeal. ... Heaven means nothing pray for me please that I keep smiling at Him in spite of everything."
She even wrote that her public personality was a "mask."
"What do I labour for? If there be no God - there can be no soul - if there is no Soul then Jesus You also are not true."

Many Roman Catholics argue that this struggle merely reflects her human side. Mother Teresa, like all people of faith, wrestled with what she truly believed.

I have always been uncomfortable with the Evangelical Church's relationship with Mother Teresa. Many have pointed to her works as clear evidence that she is a true believer. You may disagree with me, but here's how I interpret her letters: As profound as her works were, even she understood that there was something fundamentally missing in order for her to have a right relationship with God. I would argue that what was missing for her may have been faith in the person of Jesus Christ alone for her salvation. Of course I would argree that some doubt is possible for the believer. But what these letters seem to reveal is a profound level of doubt over decades. This is not normative for the believer.

Here's a link to the story:

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dr Quantum - Double Slit Experiment

This video explains part of the experiment I referenced in a previous post. I purchased "Cosmic Jackpot" and am currently reading it. Two words: "Wow!" (It's a quantum physics joke).

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Whitney's Video

Whitney made a video of highlights from our trip to see Ellie.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Does the FUTURE cause the PRESENT?

There is a must read article in the July 30th issue of Newsweek. An online version of the article can be found here:

Part of the article quotes Paul Davies in his new book Cosmic Jackpot. I plan on purchasing it soon, and given my well-known obsession with quantum physics (?), I should be through it rather quickly.

Here is the part of the article I found most interesting. When conducting an experiment with photons, researchers found that: "The act of observing alters what the photons did earlier, somehow changing things.... There are 'many histories' a photon could have...." Furthermore, phsicicst Jeff Tollaksen of George Mason University argues that "Something that happens now is affected by something that happens in the future....It suggests that the universe has a destiny--a destiny that is out there and coming back to us from the future."

Is that crazy? To me (cue warning bells of theologian attempting to understand quantum physics), it implies that not only do we exist spatially in the perfect part of the universe/galaxy to allow life to exist, but our temporal location may be equally significant. There may be things going on in the subatomic world in the future that allow this to be the perfect point in time for us to exist.

There are, of course, great spiritual metaphors to be drawn from this as well. Just as a photon's current conduct may be based upon its future, so might we say that our progressive sanctification is contingent upon our ultimate glorification. Is it possible that our future (glorification) affects our present (sanctification) as much as our past (initial salvation)?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Happy Anniversary, Birthday, etc.

First, a very happy anniversary wish to my beautiful wife. Today is number eight. God has been very gracious to us.

Second, a happy birthday wish to my sister, Emily. It's hard to imagine being ten years older than a person who is no longer a teenager!

Finally, we received some good news on our adoption, but I don't quite understand it all. Here's Whitney's take on it:


I would hate for someone to fall asleep at the wheel...but here's the second part of my sermon series: .

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Link to Sunday's Sermon

I arrived back in Peoria at 1:30 AM on Sunday morning and preached a few hours later. The sermon mentions our can be found here:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

John Piper and Adoption

A written version of John Piper's message on the similarities between God's adoption of us and our adoption of children:

You can also listen to the audio version on their website.

More questionable advertsing....

These are courtesy of my friend Steve. I am an no way advocating the use of any of these products. Well, maybe the lard and the tapeworms.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Harry Potter and God

From the latest issue of Time...

"Rowling's work is so familiar that we've forgotten how radical it really is. Look at her literary forebears. In The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien fused his ardent Catholicism with a deep, nostalgic love for the unspoiled English landscape. C.S. Lewis was a devout Anglican whose Chronicles of Narnia forms an extended argument for Christian faith. Now look at Rowling's books. What's missing? If you want to know who dies in Harry Potter, the answer is easy: God."

Happy Birthday, Ellie!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I Appreciate His Honesty...

I really like Pope Benedict XVI as a person. I especially appreciate his intellectual honesty. Whereas most evangelicals and Roman Catholics minimize disagreements between their communities of faith, Benedict honestly acknowledges that the differences which exist are real and profound...a matter of life and death! Recently, he issued a statement affirming the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church. Newsweek has this to say(

LORENZAGO DI CADORE, Italy - Pope Benedict XVI has reasserted the universal primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released Tuesday that says Orthodox churches were defective and that other Christian denominations were not true churches.

Benedict approved a document from his old offices at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that restates church teaching on relations with other Christians. It was the second time in a week the pope has corrected what he says are erroneous interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that modernized the church.

Benedict, who attended Vatican II as a young theologian, has long complained about what he considers the erroneous interpretation of the council by liberals, saying it was not a break from the past but rather a renewal of church tradition.

In the latest document — formulated as five questions and answers — the Vatican seeks to set the record straight on Vatican II’s ecumenical intent, saying some contemporary theological interpretation had been “erroneous or ambiguous” and had prompted confusion and doubt.
It restates key sections of a 2000 document the pope wrote when he was prefect of the congregation, “Dominus Iesus,” which set off a firestorm of criticism among Protestant and other Christian denominations because it said they were not true churches but merely ecclesial communities and therefore did not have the “means of salvation.”

In the new document and an accompanying commentary, which were released as the pope vacations here in Italy’s Dolomite mountains, the Vatican repeated that position.

“Christ ‘established here on earth’ only one church,” the document said. The other communities “cannot be called ‘churches’ in the proper sense” because they do not have apostolic succession — the ability to trace their bishops back to Christ’s original apostles.

Obviously, he and I come down on different sides of these issues, but I believe he has correctly identified some key sticking points. For example, how is salvation obtained? Is Benedict correct that it is the RCC that has the "means of salvation"? Or are we correct when we argue that the sacraments do not bring about salvation but rather it is grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone that brings about salvation?

Another example would be the question concerning the locus of authority. Wherein lies the authority for the believer? Is Benedict correct in arguing that it lies within the church and more specifically the papal office or is the Protestant correct in arguing that authority resides within Scripture?

These are crucial issues and until Roman Catholics and Protestants admit this, there is no hope for constructive dialogue. While the conclusions he reaches sadden me, I greatly appreciate Pope Benedict XVI's honesty.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Hannah and the Tooth Fairy

Hannah lost her tooth last week. Naturally, she had lots of questions about the tooth fairy. After she had been tucked in her bed for a few minutes, there was a very special visit...

Monday, July 2, 2007

Another Update from Our Friend!

We got another update from our new friend at Eagle's Nest:

"I thought I'd give you the latest on Ellie over the past few days. It has become my morning ritual to seek her out in the morning. I have to tell you she is in the "high rent district" of the orphanage because her crib is next to a window and the view from this place is gorgeous! I'm sure you will enjoy it when you arrive. Yesterday I spent the afternoon with some people who have been coming up to the orphanage to volunteer three days a week. One of the girls asked if I knew which one Vanessa was. I said yes...and I actually know who her adoptive parents are. She was so excited that she was spoken for because Vanessa (Ellie) is her favorite here at Eagle's Nest. She also said that she will start to call her Ellie so that she can get used to it. She definitely responds to Vanessa or Vane (pronounced Bah-nay) as many of the mamas call her. It's also cool when I hold her and the older kids (los mayores) come up to me and hold Ellie's hand and say "Hola Vanessa!" She is definitely well liked.

"The last few days I've played pattycake with her and that brings out a huge smile and I noticed yesterday two little dimples that are precious. I tried to capture them in a picture but it kind of turned out fuzzy. She really likes the "roll it" part of the song and she'll start laughing. She loves to just sit on your lap and look at you and look around at the other kids playing. The other thing I noticed today were her amazing eyelashes. I tried to capture those in a picture too as she was looking down. They are the longest I've ever seen! I hope you enjoy these little glimpses of Ellie. I'm glad that you don't have to wait that much longer to see her! "

Below is the picture Ashley is referring to regarding Ellie's eyelashes. Austin has incredibly long eyelashes. But when we saw this picture, I looked over at him and said, "Sorry, no longer have the longest eyelashes in the family."

The Lord's Gracious Provision for Ellie

It is sometimes tempting to think that we need to get Ellie home so that we can "take care of her." But we must constantly remind ourselves that God was sovereign over choosing Ellie to be a part of our family and it is He who is caring for her now and it is He who will be the one who cares for her in the future.

There was an exciting reminder of God's provision for Ellie this past week when a friend from church called. She told me that she had just discovered that a family friend was working at the children's home where Ellie was at. I emailed her friend and received the following email and picture from her:


What a small world! I have met Ellie. But now its good to put a face with a name. I know the older kids' names because they can tell me but I don't want to bug the mamacitas by asking them who is who all the time. I will make a special effort to spend some time with her. A group from North Carolina has been here this past week and today they cleaned the whole orphanage from top to bottom. So all the babies were moved to another facility...quite an undertaking. I've attached a picture of their temporary housing! :) They are back now as I can hear them right above me. It's awesome you guys are going to parents to one of these "preciosos" I've only been here since Monday night and have had quite an experience. Monday was tough...but I've gotten control over my emotions! :) I'm glad to spend some time here for sure. I'll try to send you a new pic of Ellie soon as well. Blessings! And if there is anything you want to know before your trip...let me know!


The next day she sent me this wonderful email:

Hey Daniel -

I wanted to get this off to you quick as I thought you might appreciate it. This morning I went up and found Ellie the first thing. She was crawling around this morning. I held her for awhile and prayed over her. For protection and health as she is here and for the blessing of being adopted into your family. Then I held her as I read to a couple of the older kids. The book was one of the those feeling books that has different textures on different pages and she was super interested in touching each of the pages. When I picked her up and held her in the air she would get a big smile on her face. She is precious indeed! Just thought you might want to know! See the pic of her and me this morning actually taken by of the older girls here at Nido.



It is hard to describe how excited I was when I received this email. I was overwhelmed at how Ellie was being cared for even when I am powerless to provide for her. It was a great reminder than even when we bring her home, it is ultimately God who provides for her and my other children and not me.
Be sure to check out for Whitney's perspective on this.....

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Baby Got Book

This only makes sense if you know the song its parodying. Beyond that, I have no comment.

Outrage Checklist!!!

The picture above is taken from:

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing" (Deut. 10:18).

Personally, I only have the time to be outraged by a few things. And even when I am outraged by something, I’m usually too apathetic to do anything substantial about it. Therefore I believe it is important to prioritize the things that really make my blood boil with righteous indignation.

Which is why I was surprised to hear about the incredible outpouring of anger over the recent immigration bill. Consider Alan Ogushoff’s fury. According to the Saturday edition of the Atlantic Journal-Constitution, Ogushoff has never been much of a political activist. But this immigration bill so incensed him that he wrote his senators, faxed them, and called them three times a day.

Ogushoff was not alone. On Thursday the US Senate phone system was shut down because of the enormous amount of phone calls pouring in. Most calls expressed a negative opinion about the bill and were particularly concerned about the “amnesty” provided by the bill.

The primary opponents of the part of the bill that made provisions for illegal aliens to become legal citizens were conservatives, including social conservatives. The strange thing about this outpouring of concern to me is that social conservatives have been so eerily silent lately. Why are they so upset all of a sudden? Why this bill? Why now?

Quite frankly, it has been troubling the amount of passion social conservatives have on this issue and how passive they have been on other issues. In their tirades against illegal immigrants, there has been little constructive put forth about how to deal with the individuals who are already here. Most of their intellectual effort just goes into finding new synonyms for "criminal." It would be nice if their anger was directed at the root causes that bring these twelve million poor souls into our country and at finding ways to help these people and keep our country safe. There are so many much more fun things to be furious about.

So…by way of a public service, I would like to offer just a few—related— things that I believe should rouse the indignation of at least Evangelical Christian social conservatives more than the fact that there are twelve million felonious, larcenous, unlawful, illegal, lawless, law-breaking, delinquent, nefarious, bad, notorious individuals who came here illegally. These are things I plan on getting upset about before I really jump on the anti-illegal immigration bandwagon

1. Abortion. Between 1973 and 2002 over forty million abortions have taken place in the United States ( Social conservatives don’t even have to write their congressman about this one. If you look at the presidential primaries of both parties, there is not a true social conservative running in the top tier. What happened to the might of the religious right? It turns out that the religious right is far more "right" than "religious". If Evangelicals could just be outraged enough to consider supporting a “middle” or “bottom” tier candidate so that they could get a little exposure I could maybe get as excited as I normally am at this point in the election cycle. But no…the leading candidate among evangelicals is…Rudy Giuliani (!?!?!? Now there’ s something to be outraged by! Here’s a choice quote: “Rudy is a very good friend of mine. I think he'd make a good president. I like him a lot, although he doesn't share all of my particular points of view on social issues. He's a very dedicated Catholic and he's a great guy. McCain I would vote against under any circumstance” (Pat Robertson speaking of Rudy Giuliani).

2. Orphans. There are over 100 million orphans worldwide. The forces that are causing children to be orphaned and the things that are being done to many orphans are too terrible to even mention here. The Evangelical church is slowly waking up to how she can help meet the needs of these precious ones.

3. Child Labor. We live in a culture of rampant materialism. We would rather purchase cheap goods made by children than pay extra for that t-shirt at Wal-Mart. You could start your crusade against child labor by not purchasing products from China promoting the 2008 Olympics…it seems as if many of these were made by children.

4. Racism/Lack of compassion (?). I wonder if at least some of the furor over the latest immigration bill stems from either outright or implicit racism. The tone of the conversation concerns me more than the fact that there are people here illegally. Quite frankly, if I lived in Mexico and needed to provide for my family, I would be coming here illegally. I sometimes wonder why that passion directed at illegal immigrants isn’t applied towards pressuring our government to force changes within other countries.

I’m not for breaking the law. There should certainly be laws that our official enforce. I’m just wondering about the tone of the debate and the furor of people whose voices are silent on so many other important things.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Do Chimeras Go to Heaven?

Humans have souls, animals don't...but what about chimeras? A chimeras "is an animal that has two or more different populations of genetically distinct cells that originated in different zygotes." The more sensational term is "animal-human hybrid." William Saletan has a very disturbing article on

There's a lot of distrubing aspects of this article, but here's a good excerpt:

"Last month, ethicists from Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin detailed a proposal by a Stanford scientist to substitute human brain stem cells for dying neurons in fetal mice. "The result would be a mouse brain, the neurons of which were mainly human in origin," they reported. The payoff, if the fetuses survived, would be "a laboratory animal that could be used for experiments on living, in vivo, human neurons." Imagine that: a humanoid brain network you can treat like a lab animal, because it is a lab animal.

"The Stanford experiment wouldn't actually produce a human brain. Most brain cells aren't neurons, and the experiment called for inserting human cells after the mice had constructed their brain architecture. But last year in Developmental Biology, researchers proposed to insert human stem cells in mice before this architectural stage. The resulting "mouse/human chimeras," they argued, "would be of considerable value for the modeling of human development and disease in live animals."

"When Stanford's ethicists first heard the proposal for humanized mouse brains, they were grossed out. But after thinking it over, they tentatively endorsed the idea and decided that it might not be bad to endow mice with "some aspects of human consciousness or some human cognitive abilities." The British academy and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences have likewise refused to permanently restrict the humanization of animals."

Al Mohler responded to this today on his blog. The best part of the blog was this statement by bioethicist Dr. Nancy Jones:

"What principles may Christians invoke to guide them in formulating a response to the possibility of such animal-human chimeras? Some concern should certainly be expressed for the experimental animal's suffering; however, Christians do believe that they have been given stewardship over animals and are permitted to use them to benefit humanity. Another concern would be zoonotic transmission of disease, which occurs when pathogens cross the traditional species barriers of disease transmission. When human and animal tissues are intertwined so closely, potential mutations of once species-specific pathogens may gain a unique ability to infect organisms of other species. A more fundamental Christian concern involves violation of the divinely created order. The Bible tells us that God designed procreation so that plants, animals, and humans always reproduce after their own kind or seed. (Gen 1:11-12, 21) In the biblical view, then, species integrity is defined by God, rather than by arbitrary or evolutionary forces. The fusion of animal-human genomes runs counter to the sacredness of human life and man created in the image of God."

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Disturbing Trends in Marital Blog War

As you may recall.... In response to my rather fascinating series on the Gummi Bears, Whitney felt compelled to begin her own blog. At that time, a fierce competition began. We were each dedicated to total web domination--at whatever cost.

Sure, I was never even close in the "comments" war, but the other numbers the blog tracks weren't ridiculously less than Whitney's. From the beginning of May to yesterday....

* Whitney had 7% more visits (total times people came to the site)
* She had 2% more pageviews (pages clicked on).
* I had 10% more pages viewed per visit.
* People spent on average 7% more time on her site.
* I had 6% more unique visitors (so, if a person views a website 16 times in a period of time, this counter only counts them once).

But, if you don't look at the aggregate numbers and only the figures from the past thrity days, you realize that she's beating me pretty soundly. It looks like it took her a little time to get her website up and going and now that it is, things are rather bleak.

* Whitney has had 27% more visits over the past thirty days.
* She has had 17 % more pageviews.
* I had 9% more pages viewed per visit.
* People spent an average of 19% more time on her site.
* She had 26% more unique visitors.

So...the past thirty days represent a trend that doesn't bode well for Our web development team here is considering several options...

1. Use our mob connections to make her an offer she can't refuse.

2. Fail to pay our electric bill so that the power gets cut and she can't turn on her computer.

3. Pretend to be an online stalker and make her uncomfortable posting on the website. Considering how these Guatamamas already stalk one another, I don't think this will really phase her.

4. "Borrow" everything that she has on her site and put it on mine. That way, there's no incentive for people who visit both sites to visit hers.

5. Pretend to be her and post rude comments on her blog friends sites.

6. Just congratulate her and concede defeat. the future, look forward to having everything on her website conveniently located here. Remember: all you blogging needs. And, while you're here, click on some links, go get some coffee while leaving your browser open, and be sure to stop by tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hollywood Uncomforable with Abortion

Citing two recent movies dealing with unplanned pregnancies, Gerald Baker in The Times (London) writes an excellent article entitled, "You Won't See Termination 2 at the Movies." It can be found here:

I read it first on Dr. Mohler's blog. Dr. Mohler is the president of my future alma-mater (?) and you can read his commentary on Baker's article here: .

Baker contends that it is extremely rare to see a movie depict a women having an abortion. When given a chance, even in difficult circumstances, mothers choose to keep their babies. The reason for this is more than just a desire to avoid offending a large percentage of their potential audience. He believes that we go to movies in order to be inspired in some way and people, in their heart of hearts, realize that deciding to have a baby in the "moral and honorable" thing to do. This is problematic for the pro-choice crown because it illustrates that abortion is really about a choice between doing something "inherently expedient and selfish, and doing something that is inherently good and self-denying." His concluding paragraphs are especially strong:

And that makes you think a bit deeper about the “choice” question. The defenders of abortion like to say that choosing to have a termination is an agonising decision – and certainly many women will attest to this. But they also say that abortion presents no deep moral problem because it does not represent the taking of a human life.

So if having an abortion is no more than the disposal of an unwanted clump of cells, why on earth should a woman feel so bad about it?

In this newspaper recently Caitlin Moran wrote that she put more thought into choosing a design for her new kitchen than she did into a choice to have an abortion. This caused a bit of a stir, but if you think hard about it, it’s the only truly consistent moral position an abortion-rights defender can feel comfortable in taking. Otherwise, what on earth have they wrought?
After years of wondering whether we’ll ever change society’s permissive attitude towards abortion, I’m convinced that we will some day come to view it in the way we now view slavery, a moral abomination that generations simply became inured to by usage and practice.

The big difference, of course, is that abortion is worse than slavery. Not just in the obvious sense that it involves the taking of life rather than liberty. But because our current debate suggests that deep down most of us really know there’s something quite wrong with abortion.

Say what you will about the slaveowners, I doubt many of them sat around agonising about their decision to keep Uncle Tom and his family chained to the shack at the end of the drive. I doubt they justified it, after much soul-searching, by saying they were only painfully exercising their “choice” to own slaves so they wouldn’t have to sacrifice their standard of living.

When even Hollywood declines to celebrate the moral courage involved in choosing an abortion, it might be time we all woke up to what abortion really is.