Oh, Hugo….

From an Associated Press article by  Christopher Toothaker:

President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that foreigners who publicly criticize him or his government while visiting Venezuela will be expelled from the country … “How long are we going to allow a person _ from any country in the world _ to come to our own house to say there’s a dictatorship here, that the president is a tyrant, and nobody does anything about it?” Chavez asked during his weekly television and radio program.

That’ll show ’em who’s not a tyrant Hugo. That’ll show ’em…

Amazon goes Green

We interrupt our irregularly scheduled programming to bring you this life-saving public service announcement.

Amazon is now doing groceries (all right, to be fair, they’ve been doing them for a while now, but it was more of a beta program that they were working the kinks out of) and starting today, they’re offering great prices on food and other grocery items and unbeatable rates on shipping (as in free for orders over $25.00). So what are you waiting for, click the link below and check it out!

Hitchens and Wilson: Answering a fool according to his folly

If you haven’t heard, Douglas Wilson (a Christian) and Christopher Hitchens (an atheist) are debating the question “Is Christianity Good for the World?“. I’d be grossly under-exaggerating if I didn’t say that Wilson is destroying his opponent. Over the last several exchanges, Wilson has been asking Hitchens to explain what warrants his authoritative use of the words “good” and “evil”. Unsurprisingly, Hitchens doesn’t seem to know how or where to start.

In what may be the final segment, Wilson replies to Hitchen’s reference of LaPlacian thinking with the following:

But it is interesting that the same thing happens to you when you have to give some warrant for trusting in “reason.”. I noted your citation of LaPlace in your book and am glad you brought him up here. LaPlace believed he was not in need of the God hypothesis, just like you, but you should also know he held this position as a firm believer in celestial and terrestrial mechanics. He was a causal determinist, meaning that he believed that every element of the universe in the present was “the effect of its past and the cause of its future.”

So if LaPlace is why you think belief in God is now “optional,” this appeal of yours actually turns into quite a fun business. This doctrine means (although LaPlace admittedly got distracted before these implications caught up with him) that you, Christopher Hitchens, are not thinking your thoughts and writing them down because they are true, but rather because the position and velocity of all the atoms in the universe one hundred years ago necessitated it. And I am not sitting here thinking my Christian thoughts because they are the truth of God, but rather because that is what these assembled chemicals in my head always do in this condition and at this temperature. “LaPlace’s demon” could have calculated and predicted your arguments (and word count) a century ago in just the same way that he could have calculated the water levels of the puddles in my driveway — and could have done so using the same formulae. This means that your arguments and my puddles are actually the same kind of thing. They are on the same level, so to speak.

If you were to take a bottle of Mountain Dew and another of Dr. Pepper, shake them vigorously, and put them on a table, it would not occur to anyone to ask which one is “winning the debate.” They aren’t debating; they are just fizzing. You refer to “language in which to write this argument,” and you do so as though you believed in a universe where argument was a meaningful concept. Argument? Argument? I have no need for your “argument hypothesis.” Just matter in motion, man. [full text of this exchange, here]

A response like this is delightful to read, not because it is sure to silence Hitchens, nor because it is a panaceic answer to all issues that an atheist might raise. Instead, it is delightful because it reminds us that there is not one spoken answer to all questions, but rather that the way you answer a fool is according to the nature of his folly. Paul does this on Mars’ Hill by pointing out the hypocrisy of worshipping a god who dwells in a temple made by man or who can be worshipped by the hands of men (as if he needs something of man to exist). We see also that Stephen does this very same thing when he tells the Pharisees that they have not kept the law, just like their father’s before them who put to death God’s prophets. It is something that we see throughout Scripture, and it is something that we should do when we find ourselves with the chance to speak to those who (knowingly or unknowingly) mock the name of God (being quite careful not to fall into the trap that we are adjacently warned of: answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him)

Getting back to Hitchens and Wilson, I heartily recommend that you read through their five-part exchange. In fact, the only criticism I have of Wilson’s replies to Hitchen’s is regarding his recent choice of a particular Tombstone reference. While there was nothing wrong with the one he used, I was hoping he’d go with a (slightly altered) line by Doc Holliday: Why Hitchens, perhaps thinking just isn’t your game… I know, let’s have us a spelling contest.

A Preacher without Arms and Legs

About five months ago, I started noticing google searches in my site’s logs showing that people were searching the web with phrase like “Preacher without arms and legs” and “Preacher + no arms + no legs”. And for whatever reason, google was sending them my way.

Naturally, this made me curious, and because The Preacher is just that nice of a web site, I did a few searches of my own and found Life Without Limbs, the home page of Nick Vujicic, a 20 something Australian man who was born without arms and legs and who now travels the world sharing his testimony and the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. Even if this wasn’t the guy you were looking for, this is someone you might want to read about. Also, check out the video below

Please pray for my brother in law

Earlier today, my wife’s brother suffered a major back injury from a fall. I don’t have a lot of information yet, but they’ve done an initial MRI and as of right now, they are questioning whether he will be able to walk again.

Please pray for him and his wife, and for his extended family that all of us involved will respond as Christians, without bitterness at God or men. Please pray that our family will respond to his injuries with grace and that we will provide physical and spiritual support as God would have us.

Programming for fun

If you know me very well at all, you know that I like geeky, technical things. I like computers and technology. I like gadgets and electronics. I like Linux. I like Windows. I like Macs.

I also like to program. Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, Haskell, Lisp, Caml, C, C++, Java, C#, you name it, I like it and have probably messed around with it. I also like to get other people messing around with programming. My brother-in-law knows all too well the look that I get in my eye when I am going to try to get him interesting in secure shelling in to my Linux box to play around with some new language. What can I say? I’m addicted and am also prone to sharing my addiction.

The problem is, it’s hard for people who don’t know much about programming to get started with it. Even if they do manage to jump over all the technical hurdles in their way, it’s harder still for them to get to the point with a programming language where they can do something that they find rewarding. Most programming language tutorials go something like this:

  1. Learn to write a program that prints “Hello, world!” to the screen
  2. Learn to write a program that plays a number guessing game
  3. Learn to write a program that functions as a simple (and I do mean simple) address book
  4. Finally, in an attempt to really impress you, the book does something so mind-bogglingly complex that they lose you completely, such as (trying to) show you how to write a simulator for genetic selection or planetary weather or a cryptographic method for generating rainbow tables…

Well, HacketyHack is changing all that. What is HacketyHack you ask? Well, I’ll be brief. It’s programming made fun again. It’s learning a new programming language made simple again. And best of all, it’s both of those things, made inexpensive again. (How inexpensive you ask? Try free. Seriously.)

As with all truly great things, you should just try it out if you want to understand it. You can click here to just grab the download (bear in mind that HacketyHack is a work in progress. It hasn’t officially been released, so some things may not quite work yet. But even with all those caveats, it’s still a lot of fun.)

Don’t shake hands with Sheryl Crow

I know that this has been blogged to death, but I couldn’t let it pass by without comment.

From the Washington Post’s Biodiesel bug blog:

“Although my ideas are in the earliest stages of development, they are, in my mind, worth investigating. One of my favorites is in the area of conserving trees, which we heavily rely on for oxygen,” the signed statement on her website said.

“I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting,” she said.

“I think we are an industrious enough people that we can make it work with only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where two to three could be required.”

One? Two or three? Pesky occasions? Like once a week or once a month? What can I say? I’m bewildered, for very very very… uhm… personal reasons. Let’s just say that my wife is calling me The Calendar (think squares on a page). You do the math.

Blog of the Week (4/12 to 4/19)

Featured Blog: This week’s Blog of the Week is none other than the Thirsty Theologian. I haven’t been reading this site for evry long, but already I can see that it’s got great content, has frequent updates, and it’s moderator David Kjos has a wry sense of humor.

Blog Topics Covered: Reformed Theology, current events, quotes, trivia, quality essays on relevant topics, etc.

Frequency Updated: Multiple updates per week

Pros: Dislikes MarkDriscoll, extremely conservative, cynical, and did we mention he’s got a sense a humor?

Cons: Cynical, sometimes spells “rejoiced”, like this: “reioyced”, did I mention that he’s cynical?

Sample posts: Divinely Appointed Means, Food for Thought: Christian Tolerance

Blog of the Week: One more week of Bittersweetness

I’m about to do something unprecedented. It’s BIG. Really, really, BIG. But before I do, you have to understand something about the Internet, this website, and the Blog of the Week feature.

The Internet is a vast and virtual expanse of wasteland filled predominantly with web sites of little or no interest to anyone. It is a dark place. A bleak place. A place where, if you will pardon the expression, happy flowers do not grow.

But there are oases.

The problem is finding them. This is where The Preacher comes in. Poised between the Internet and the oases, like a magnifying glass between the sun and an anthill, this website, and in particular the Blog of the Week feature, serves to magnify those sites of quality which are oh-so-difficult to find.

But there is a downside. Much like the magnifying glass, the unfiltered gaze of The Preacher can prove unbearable. The strain produced by the flood of new visitors has been known1 to bring even the largest web site to its knees. In short, such power brings with it a terrible responsibility.

Which brings me to my announcement: Bittersweet Life will remain the Blog of the Week for one week more. You are shocked. Believe me: I understand your shock. You are amazed. Know this: I can empathize.

Never, not even once, in the two-week history of Blog of the Week has a blog remained as King of the List for such a span of time. But quality demands such a concession. For such a site as this, there is no other choice2

1 “known” in a figurative sense. Loosely known, as in “not really” or as in “I’m making this up” see fiction

2 Also, I am going out of town for a few days, and it is going to be super busy.

Blog of the Week (3/27 to 4/3)

Featured Blog: This week’s Blog of the Week is none other than the fantastic, the frequently updated, the “now with Edges” (but no knobby things) Bittersweet Life. Shocking? Not really. If you’ve been around this site for long, if you’ve read the comments, followed the links, seen the references made, then it will come as no surprise to you that Bittersweet Life is one of my favorite blogs. The site is maintained by the most excellent Ariel Vanderhorst (don’t think Little Mermaid, instead think Lion of God), a trash-talking, hoops playing, awen breathing, poetry-crafting theologian with a penchant for biting satire and complex yet relevant exegesis. Dare I say it? This blog goes to 11.

Blog Topics Covered: Reformed Theology, book reviews, current events, poetry, fiction, photography, relevant scriptural application, basketball, college life.

Frequency Updated: Daily (frequently there are multiple updates in a single day)

Pros: Consistent, high-quality content covering a wide variety of topics, fantastic prose, frequent C. S. Lewis references, no fear of controversy, copious yet clever comments (there’s this one guy, gymbrall, he cracks me up… yes, that’s my blogger username… stupid full disclosure.)

Cons: Likes Mark Driscoll. Blatant KU basketball fanboi.

Sample posts: Jarring Incarnation, A Snapshot of Jesus’ Glory

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