Maybe It’s a Good Time to Make Your Speeches Online

Given the hatred the left feels for Trump and that former FBI Director James Comey is a career martyr to the cause, you’d think he’d be welcome on campuses.  But no…

Students at Howard University loudly protested former FBI Director James Comey Friday as he delivered a convocation address.

As Comey, making a rare public appearance since leaving the FBI, began his speech welcoming new students at Howard University, protesters could be heard yelling from the back of the room, raising their fists and shouting. Some of the slogans included “No justice, no peace, “We shall not be moved” and “white supremacy is not a debate.”

Standing before a packed auditorium, Comey stood silently for over 15 minutes as the students yelled, “I love being black” and “Get out James Comey — you’re not our homey.”

Evidently “intersectionality” doesn’t work as well as its enthusiasts say it does.  That’s something conservatives could take better advantage of if they were better led.

Those of you who follow this blog know that I have the habit of making “speeches” on the blog.  I’ve done this for two reasons: I think I have something to say, and I don’t get invited.  The upside to that, however, is that I don’t get disinvited either, the current sport on college campuses.  And getting disinvited isn’t the worst of it: if you don’t get disinvited, you can get the same treatment that James Comey is getting, or worse.

P.S. I’ve posted another “speech” on a companion blog.  The topic isn’t of much interest to regulars here, but I do make some observations on the advance of science and technology and how that gets hindered in our society today.

Why I Just Can’t Get Excited about #DACA

With the major hurricanes done for the moment and a debt crisis averted by Trump’s deal with the Democrats, Congress must turn to the issues in front of it.  Tax reform code is at the top of the list, although I’m not holding my breath.  Behind that is the DACA program, or the “Dreamers,” where young people brought here outside of our immigration legislation have special dispensation to pursue their education here.

Immigration, like infrastructure, is one of those issues where bipartisan agreement (or at least under-the-table collusion) has resulted in inaction.  Business interests would like a labour force with an interest in work, so they pressure the Republicans, and leftists would like an electorate that votes for them, so they pressure the Democrats.  Both of these use the appeal that, if these people are sent back to their ancestral homelands, their dreams will end.  And that’s an easy sell with Americans; we’d all like to think that we’re the only place in the world where dreams and goals in life come true.

But that’s really not the case.

My lack of enthusiasm for this issue is purely personal, and goes back to a time in my life where I was making my own decisions about life aspirations.  That in turn should be set against the backdrop of the time, and that scene wasn’t pretty.

Growing up I was presented with two options about what this country was all about.  In one corner was my father, who was a super-patriot.  In his mind our country could do no wrong and it was not permitted to question anything it did.  That may seem odd in a country that fancies itself on freedom, but professing freedom while taking it away is more common than you might think.

On the other end were the hippy-dippy people who professed to seek a deeper meaning in life but in the end could only find it in getting laid, high or drunk.  This didn’t strike me at the time as particularly American, but in a way it is.  There’s been a strong streak in the country that we came here to run the woods free and act the way we wanted to, and that was part of the ooze that bubbled to the surface in the 1960’s.  There was also the “hick moving to town” theme; growing up in Palm Beach left me with no sympathy for this.  History taught me that a country this sybaritic wasn’t going to make it, and I wasn’t too keen on sticking around for the end.

The disaster of Watergate ripped our political system apart; that only created despair.  It became obvious to me that only foreign intervention would fix this broken culture, which lead to this.  But with the atheistic Soviet Union being the most likely option, the reality of that wasn’t too appetising.  Maybe, I said to myself, what I need to do is get out of here.

The opportunity to do just that presented itself in the spring of 1976 at the Offshore Technology Conference, when I stopped by the booth of Motherwell Bridge, a Scottish engineering and construction firm.  I talking to one of their representatives, mentioned that I was graduating that year and would be looking for a job.  He expressed an interest in speaking to me about a position with them.  I told him I’d be in the UK two months from then, and would call him then.

That was all well and good, so when I got to the UK and Scotland was in the plans, I rung him up.  Unfortunately I butted into that European habit of going on holiday during the summer; he was gone to sunnier climes and I was out of a job interview.  (The UK was experiencing a major drought that year; he really didn’t have to go anywhere for sunny weather.)

I could have gone to a “Plan B” to emigrate in the fall by strategically choosing my job interviews.  But by then I had lived in Texas three years and both seen and experienced a part of this country that was truly good and highly productive.  So the man who started to emigrate ended up with a security clearance at Texas Instruments.

It’s always tempting to play “what if” with a situation like this; certainly life would have been different on the other side of the pond.  One of my commenters pointed out that average income in the UK is considerably below that of the US.  But that meant nothing to me at the time; I took a “pay cut” to work for TI as opposed to working in the oil industry (which, after a bit, I ended up doing .)  One thing it would have done is, if I tired of Old Blighty, becoming an expat is easier for just about anyone than it is for an American, thanks to our possessive tax legislation.

The good part of this country–which surfaces in things such as the response to Hurricane Harvey–has been under relentless attack from a wide array of groups with elite support, including the New Urbanists, the various “diversity” groups, and indeed the “Blue state” mentality.  That it has survived as well as it has is amazing, a testament to the viability of the lifestyle itself as much as the tenacity of its practicioners.  But the outcome is still in the balance.

As far as DACA is concerned, I hope that Congress can come to a resolution on this.  It’s always good to attract people who will actually work and make things happen.  But we need to be real about this: if more dreams could be fulfilled in places like Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, we’d be better off as a country.  We would have more stable southern neighbours and an additional market for our goods and services.  And that’s not as far-fetched as it might seem: at this stage it’s easier to start a small business in Mexico than in the US, thanks to our ridiculous legal and regulatory system.

Americans on both sides of the divide love to gush forth rhetoric about how this is the only place where people’s dreams can be fulfilled.  The country would be better off, however, if, instead of mellifluous rhetoric, we’d spend as much effort making this country inviting for dreamers as we do talking about it.

If You Can Lead Sheep, You’re Ready for Politics

I could not pass up this gem from Philo Judaeus, in his Life of a Man Occupied with Affairs of State, or on Joseph, I:

Now, this man (Joseph) began from the time he was seventeen years of age to be occupied with the consideration of the business of a shepherd, which corresponds to political business.  On which account I think it is that the race of poets has been accustomed to call kings the shepherds of the people; for he who is skilful in the business of a shepherd will probably be also a most excellent king, having derived instruction in those matters which are deserving of inferior attention here to superintend a flock of those most excellent of all animals, namely, of men. And just as attention to matters of hunting is indispensable to the man who is about to conduct a war or to govern an army, so in the same banner those who hope to have the government of a city will find the business of a shepherd very closely connected with them, since that is as it were a sort of prelude to any kind of government.

When I worked at Church of Lay Ministries, our last bookkeeper lived on a farm and, as part of that, tended sheep.  The whole concept of a real shepherd working in a Christian organisation was more fun than a human being ought to have, and I made the most of it.  Her response was that sheep are pretty dumb, and comparing people to sheep (a common theme in the New Testament) isn’t very complimentary to people.

Given the current state of American politics, Philo’s words resonate, and one would wish that more American politicians had spent their early years watching over the flocks by night than haunting the halls of ivy.

Philo’s idea also puts this passage in a new light:

And Samuel did all that the Lord told him; and he came to Bethlehem: and the elders of the city were amazed at meeting him, and said, Dost thou come peaceably, thou Seer? And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice to the Lord. Sanctify yourselves, and rejoice with me this day: and he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and he called them to the sacrifice. And it came to pass when they came in, that he saw Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him. But the Lord said to Samuel, Look not on his appearance, nor on his stature, for I have rejected him; for God sees not as man looks; for man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. And Jesse called Aminadab, and he passed before Samuel: and he said, Neither has God chosen this one. And Jesse caused Sama to pass by: and he said, Neither has God chosen this one. And Jesse caused his seven sons to pass before Samuel: and Samuel said, the Lord has not chosen these. And Samuel said to Jesse, Hast thou no more sons? And Jesse said, There is yet a little one; behold, he tends the flock. And Samuel said to Jesse, Send and fetch him for we may not sit down till he comes. And he sent and fetched him: and he was ruddy, with beauty of eyes, and very goodly to behold. And the Lord said to Samuel, Arise, and anoint David, for he is good. And Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward: and Samuel arose, and departed to Armathaim.  (1Samuel 16:4-13 LXX)

God’s choice of David really was based on merit!

What I Learned About Approaching God From the 1928 Book of Common Prayer

I’ve not done much posting re the Anglican Communion these days.  That’s because, to be honest, it’s not an improving story.  Predictably the Church of England is going the way of its Episcopal counterpart, having learned nothing from their experience.  The orthodox Anglicans have appointed a former tank commander to lead the charge; they’re going to need one, and they don’t need to proliferate purple shirts the way they have done in North America either.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Field Marshal von Rosenberg’s panzers have scored a breakthrough in the land of Dylann Roof by getting back much of the property of the Diocese of South Carolina.  In some ways it’s an unexpected result, but in some ways not.  Although it’s hard to prove, in an era where the elites’ main goal in life is to get laid, high or drunk (and to restrict the rest of the population to the same goals) it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that there’s a great deal of judicial table-tilting going on.

In any case I want to focus on something more important: how do we approach God?  And more specifically, how do you explain this to a kid?  My education, in part, came from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, which was in use at the time at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church.  It’s an example of “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi:” the law of prayer is the law of belief and the law of living.  It’s one reason (beyond “we’ve always done it this way”) why the prayer book wars of the 1970’s were so bitterly fought.

Important note: for those who don’t like the 1928 Book because you think it’s got too much of an Anglo-Catholic drift, the part I plan to discuss is nearly identical, with one important difference, to that in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.  The section in question comes from the Holy Communion.

After the offering (which was taken up at Bethesda in seriously large silver trays) we pray for the whole state of Christ’s church, needed more now than then.  After this (and here the 1928 Book skips the lengthy Exhortation,)  the following is said:

¶ Then shall the Priest say to those who come to receive the Holy Communion,

YE who do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways; Draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort; and make your humble confession to Almighty God, devoutly kneeling.

¶ Then shall this General Confession be made, by the Priest and all those who are minded to receive the Holy Communion, humbly kneeling.

ALMIGHTY God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men; We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, Forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please thee In newness of life, To the honour and glory of thy Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

¶ Then shall the Priest (the Bishop if he be present) stand up, and turning to the People, say,

ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, who of his great mercy hath promised forgiveness of sins to all those who with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto him; Have mercy upon you; pardon and deliver you from all your sins; confirm and strengthen you in all goodness; and bring you to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

I think it’s fair to say that any celebration of the Lord’s Supper–whether it features Bill Clinton’s Eucharistic Theology or not–should have a point where those who are about to partake repent of their sins.  I’ve seen ones that don’t and it’s not pretty.  The reason for that comes from 1 Corinthians 11 and I won’t go into detail about it here.

The text above, however, makes several assumptions:

  • We are sinners.   For me, that wasn’t a hard concept to grasp as a kid.
  • Repenting of them is a good thing, and possible.
  • Once we repent, we live a “new life.”  That’s contrary to what’s usually taught in Evangelical churches, i.e., that the only point in this journey when you get a new life is when you’re initially saved.  What it means is that, as Christians, we sin, but we repent of them and come back into a relationship with God.
  • We need to confess our sins to God.  As an aside, I myself must confess that I had too much fun with the General Confession while writing The Ten Weeks.
  • Pardon comes after repentance.  The last prayer exposes one of the many ambiguities of Anglicanism: does the priest have the power to forgive sins?  The answer is, frankly, equivocal, but as a kid I came from a family with a decidedly anti-clerical streak, so I didn’t leave the granting of forgiveness to our priest, but sought it from God himself.

¶ Then shall the Priest say,

Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all who truly turn to him.

COME unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.  St. Matt. xi. 28.
So God loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  St. John iii. 16.

    Hear also what Saint Paul saith.
This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  1 Tim. i. 15.

    Hear also what Saint John saith.
If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the Propitiation for our sins.  1 St. John ii. 1, 2.

Now comes the good part: the Scriptural backup to all this.

COME unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.  St. Matt. xi. 28.

Growing up in an environment which was a Protestant version of Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility, this was a relief.  “Come to me, all you who toil and are burdened, and I will give you rest! Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly-minded, and ‘you shall find rest for your souls’; For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mat 11:28-30 TCNT)  I always found God’s demands far easier to fulfil than man’s, not only because God was more consistent, but because he gives the strength to carry them out.

So God loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  St. John iii. 16.

This well-known scripture needs little comment.

This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  1 Tim. i. 15.

See earlier comments.

If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the Propitiation for our sins.  1 St. John ii. 1, 2.

Now things get interesting. I’d be the first one to admit that “propitiation” is a mouthful for a kid, but coming from a family where a large vocabulary was inculcated and used, it wasn’t as extraordinary as one might think.  The simple definition of the word “is an action meant to regain someone’s favour or make up for something you did wrong.”  We see here that, not only did Jesus Christ do this for us, but also that he anticipated that we would get into trouble and provides the means to get out of it.

The whole concept presented here is one where the coming to God is one where it is anticipated that, along the way, we will fall into sin, but that if we turn with repentance back to God he will forgive us and restore us.  It’s entirely separate from the pompous, butt-sitting concept we get from Reformed and Baptist alike that, once we’re in the elect (Reformed) or force our way in (Baptist) we’re done.  And it’s also separate from the more secular “one false move and it’s the abyss” idea that we see all too often in our society.  (That’s something that bothered me in my academic pursuits as a student; one course go wrong and the sequence was finished or thoroughly screwed up.)

These words are indeed of comfort, then and now.

Twenty Years of Positive Infinity

A little over twenty years ago I received the following notification from Geocities, the free website provider:

Sat Aug 23 13:59:46 1997…

Welcome, DON, to GeoCities Personal Home Page Program!
Please write down or save the following information for future use.

Your Member Name is: penlay.
Your Neighborhood is: Athens/Parthenon.
Your Address is: 4799.
Your Current Password is: ******

NOTE: WE WILL NEVER ASK YOU FOR YOUR PASSWORD. We have access to the database and can get it at any time. Please be sure not to give it out to anyone else.

The URL for your Personal Home Page is:

If you want to change your password use our editor at

At this location you can also make all other changes to your account profile, including changing your member name and directory listing.

As noted in a similar anniversary celebration of, it’s an eternity on an internet, but here we are.

Some of the very early history of the site–including some of its graphics–is in our “About” page.   A summary of the site after its conversion to a WordPress blog is here.

The goal of this site has been to be a ministry.  That may seem odd to many people, but from the start I’ve been dissatisfied with a lot of the ministry going on out there.  Most churches and parachurch organisations are good at picking the “low-hanging fruit” but when it comes to more difficult fields they tend to shy away.  Growing up in the complicated religious background that was mine has always impressed me the simple fact that there is a body of people who cannot be reached by the “standard” approaches, no matter what those standard approaches might happen to be.  Reaching some of those people has been the main goal of this site.

It took some time to get a structure put together, but by about the middle of the last decade the basic topical structure of the site was pretty much as it is now; you can see this in the “Categories” list on the left.

At this point, as noted last year, the future is uncertain.  The web’s gatekeepers are beginning to close ranks on dissent to their idea.  How far they will get will depend upon many things.  How this blog and many other Christian sites will fare is not certain either.

When we first moved to Palm Beach, my parents placed me in Palm Beach Public School, whose principal was Clifford Ripley (believe it or not!)  He placed many pithy sayings in the school handbook, one of which was “Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday; make each day count.”  God has given us one day at a time; we need to make it count while it is still here.  This blog is part of my attempt to do just that the last twenty years; I trust it has been a blessing to you.

Having a Form of Diversity, but Denying the Power Thereof

Millennials’ legendary capacity for diversity may be just that:

A recent study conducted by a Grand Valley State University professor suggests that political correctness, at least among millennials, is little more than a charade.

In an August 16 study, Professor Karen Pezzetti explains that millennials pursuing careers in education “position themselves as good, non-racist people,” but in many cases may just be going through the motions of using “politically correct” terminology to “talk about students from diverse backgrounds.”

King James Bible fans will recognise the title as a take-off of this:

For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2Ti 3:2-5 KJV)

It simply means that these people don’t “walk the talk,” and that evidently includes many Millennials and diversity.

Looking at problems from the perspective of others has never been Americans’ strong suit, but the closing of the American mind (one heralded by Allan Bloom many years ago) has taken place, making matters only worse.   What that means is that Millennials may have the moral wish for diversity but lack the intellectual capacity to really have it.  So, given the intense social pressures of the day, they simply do an act to make others happy without internalising it.  That doesn’t bode well for the day when they actually have to do it for themselves, which is too bad really because, when practiced in the context of a truly task-based work environment, diversity can be very powerful.

Personally I am coming to realise that the diversity business, as it is practiced these days, is a whitewash, analogy intentional.  It covers up the fact that it not only attempts to replace real diversity of thought with racial/gender quotas, but also that more heat than light has resulted.  That’s the dilemma that was exposed with James Damore’s piece that got him fired.  For all of Google’s rhetoric, the racial/gender distribution is still skewed, which has made them the subject of a federal investigation.  From a legal standpoint the last thing Google needed was Damore’s piece, which explains much of their vigourous reaction.

Evidently Twitter Doesn’t Like My Post on Trump and Palm Beach Clubs

One of the most popular posts I have on this site is Trump Opens the Club to Blacks and Jews? Not Quite, which is about two years old.  It’s gotten a good deal of traffic and the gamut of reactions.  I’m glad to inject a little Palm Beach perspective to this question, because both what Trump did and Palm Beach’s social system run against a lot of conventional wisdom out there.

One @RobertBarber64 liked my piece enough to attempt to tweet it.  On my Twitter laptop notifications, it looked like this:

But when I looked on my iPhone Twitter app, this is what greeted me:

My, my, I think it’s Twitter that’s sensitive, at least in a schizophrenic sense.  Maybe their mobile app people think one way and their desktop people another…

I’ve had commenters go postal on me when I challenge conventional wisdom, but this is the first time a social media organisation has done so, AFAIK.

I’m certainly bothered by the apparent censorship going on here.  But that’s what happens when you hand over the internet to a few organisations; they run things to suit themselves.  We can invoke law all we went, but tech has thrived by basically outrunning the law.  I’ve always assumed that sooner or later the powers that be would start shutting down their opposition (or at least try to) and they’re busy doing that these days.  That’s especially true of Google, whose offensive against their former employee is probably lawyer-driven by attorneys attempting to fend off the feds.

My Facebook Rant re the White “Supremacists”

I was kind of nudged by one of my illustrious relatives (who is now in the Old Country) on the subject of our Confederate ancestors, and this is what I came back with:

I think that what’s been neglected in this debate is an answer to the simple question “How did the ‘Lost Cause’ lose?” The answer to that goes a long way to clearing up many of the “rural legends” that surround the whole issue of the war here in the South.

The Confederacy went into the war with the better part of the U.S. Army, the better part of West Point’s graduates, etc. (The Navy was another story altogether.) It was in a defensive position, forcing the North to slog through a vast, underdeveloped territory with few railroads, making it difficult to move large numbers of troops around. (Napoleon, Kaiser and Hitler alike faced the same geography problem when invading Russia, albeit on an even larger scale.)

But the underdevelopment of the South was its undoing. While Southern grandees contented themselves with living off the sweat of black slaves, their Northern industrial counterparts were building a modern economy based on making things and improving productivity. When Lincoln was elected and the South reacted impulsively by seceding, they were in no position to defend themselves in a long, protracted modern war. And, once the North figured out how to make it work (and that did take a while,) the result was a disaster.

For me personally, what that means was that, while one set of ancestors were producing cannons and ammunition to send southward, the others were on the receiving end of all this, and the result wasn’t pretty.

And I must say that, after living in this part of the country for nearly two score, I can see how this happened. (And this in a part of TN that was divided over secession, many fought for the Union.) White “supremacists” don’t have anything to be supreme about, their ancestors wouldn’t have lost the war if they had. All of the rural legends they’ve spread around only covers up their past and present failures.

It’s disheartening to live in a country that goes off on one moral crusade after another without stopping to think what’s really necessary to preserve and move forward the general welfare and the strength of the nation, to preserve its integrity. To me the Confederate monuments are a reminder of what happens when you allow hotheads to drag a region into a war it wasn’t prepared to fight, and that’s defeat.

One of the “supremacist” protesters from this area expressed his pro-Nazi sentiments in school and wondered what it would have been like if Hitler had won. That assumes that Hitler would have recognised these people as fellow Aryans, and that’s unlikely. (Just ask the Slavs.) My guess is that, in the end, the white “supremacists” would have put a victorious Hitler in the same category as William Tecumseh Sherman, and that’s a name that doesn’t get mentioned too often in polite company around here.

Given the general level of ignorance about American history, this debate seldom gets past the level of platitudes, but it’s still worth a try to change that.

Sailing the Last Voyage with Newton and Pascal

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