Monday, December 31, 2007


Last week I was listening to John Piper preach on prayer. He exhorted his listeners to "treat prayer like your job, treat prayer like food, treat prayer like sleep. It's more important than all of those." After all, even the most undisciplined among us manage to get to work, eat regularly and go to bed when we're tired. Listening, I resolved to make that my goal for 2008. That is to cultivate a disciplined, intentional practice of prayer.

Along those same lines, fellow Hobe Sound alum Randy Huff asks: Will the New Year find you praying?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Charlie Wilson's War

"We'll see, the Zen master said."

I find it hard to come up with fresh adjectives when writing about movies I like. In the case of Mike Nichol's latest, I'll settle for brilliant! A trio of brilliant performances by Tom Hanks, Julie Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman and a brilliant script by Aaron Sorkin brilliantly staged by 76-year old American director Mike Nichols. Enough with brilliant. This film explodes off the screen with one great sequence after another. Hilarious, tragic and lacerating...sometimes all at once, and remarkably balanced, despite the Democratic pedigree of the filmmakers.

Back in the 80's when most kids my age were playing Atari, I was reading Time, Newsweek and National Review, so I can recall the events portrayed and I even have a vague recollection of Congressman Charles Wilson from Texas. He was a "Blue Dog Democrat" (a breed that no longer exists), the name given to the group of conservative Democratic congressmen that had enormous power when Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill faced off in epic battles. They were often the swing vote which accounted for their disproportionate clout in the House.

This movie isn't a hatchet job on Wilson and his associates -- who covertly and intrepidly armed and trained the Mujahideen so they could drive the Russians out of Afghanistan and hasten the demise of the Soviet Empire -- but it is a case study in the unintended consequences that accompanied that decision. A straight line can be drawn from that to 9/11 and our current involvements in Afghanistan and Iraq. Terrific ironies abound and places and names that fill today's headlines crop up in Charlie Wilson's story. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Giuliani and Bhutto (Benazir's father). And at the center the Afghan "freedom fighters" who gave birth to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Even knowing what we know now, a case can be made that it was the right thing to do, but the best of intentions often go awry and it's usually the "endgame" that gets screwed up (Charlie Wilson would use a different word). In one sad scene after the war has been won, we see Wilson trying to convince his colleagues to approve $1 million dollars to rebuild schools in Afghanistan (this after having spent hundreds of millions on the war). The response? "Nobody gives a s--- about Afghanistan anymore." 13 years later American troops were invading after 9/11.

In another great scene, Wilson and his wonderfully colorful and loyal staff are celebrating his re-election and success in helping to defeat the Russians. CIA operative Gust Avrakotos (played by Hoffman) tries to bring some perspective to Charlie by telling him a parable about a Zen master and a boy. I paraphrase:

In a village, a boy got a beautiful pony, and all the villagers said, 'That’s wonderful.' The Zen master said, 'We’ll see.' A couple of years later, the boy fell off the pony and broke his leg and all the villagers said, 'That’s terrible.' The Zen master said, 'We’ll see.' Then a war came and all the other boys went to war, but the boy couldn’t go because of his leg. All the villagers said, 'That’s wonderful.' The Zen master said, 'We’ll see.'

And so it goes. Or as is said elsewhere in the film, "the ball keeps bouncing" even when we've looked away. A master of a different kind, in fact the Master, said to Peter "all who take the sword will perish by the sword." Is this a call to pacifism? I think not. But it is a call to careful, prayerful reflection, for rarely (never?) is the taking up of the sword without unintended consequences. And as this movie dramatizes, in another entire subtext that I could write a lot about, claiming a religious warrant for fighting our enemies is a slippery slope that leads to a moral twilight zone.

Joanne Herring, the Texas right-wing socialite played by Roberts, "who has the body of Julia Roberts" and "the brain of William F. Buckley" (Paul Asay writing at, tries to frame the conflict in Afghanistan as a Christian crusade. In one scene Wilson tries to get her to tone down the rhetoric. For one thing, the enterprise is dependent on the support of Wilson's more liberal Democratic colleagues, but also on the Israelis, Saudis and Pakistanis...none of whom want to be seen as participants in some kind of Christian holy war. But Herring demurs and tells Charlie, "I talk about God for one simple reason, we need Him on our side." Charlie's reply is priceless. "Sooner or later, God's going to be on both sides."

Charlie Wilson's War is a success on every front and may turn out to be my favorite film of 2007.

Friday, December 28, 2007


Often a promising film is undone by it's ending, but in the case of Atonement a mediocre film is almost redeemed by it's ending. I had doubts about this project from the first time I saw the trailer. It seemed like a too obvious attempt to recreate a successful formula -- hip director Joe Wright teaming up again with Keira Knightley in another British costume drama full of handsome actors and equally handsome locations. On the other hand I liked Wright's version of Pride and Prejudice and Roger Ebert (who I usually agree with) just included Atonement in his top ten movies of 2007. My initial instincts were correct. This film has some nice moments, but overall I was underwhelmed.

While watching Atonement I was reminded of other films that take place in this period or explore similar themes...all more successfully. The imposing shadows of Merchant & Ivory loom and I couldn't stop thinking about another favorite film of mine: The English Patient. Wright seemed to be striving to achieve the same tragic pathos and self-consciously literary style. Even certain shots made me wonder if they were a conscious homage to Anthony Minghella's masterpiece, and then lo and behold Minghella himself shows up in a cameo role at the end. Hmmm.

Like the film as a whole, the cast isn't awful, but it isn't terribly memorable either. There's no doubt that Keira Knightley has an elegant beauty that the camera loves. She looks every bit the part of the aristocratic daughter, but her performance never registers emotionally. Neither does that of leading man James McAvoy. They never made me care about their characters. Only Vanessa Redgrave hits a home run in the 5 minute coda I mentioned before. I won't be surprised if she nets a supporting actress Oscar for her brief appearance. What an actress! Like I said, she almost rescues this film from falling victim to it's weak characterizations and forced symbolism.

The conceit of the movie (and I assume of the novel it's based on) is that it's not Knightley's "Cecilia" or McAvoy's "Robbie" that's the catalyst to the story. It's younger sister Briony. And it's she who seeks atonement. I don't know how much meaning the word "atonement" still has in a post-Christian society like ours, probably not much, but it's a precious word for the Christian. We know that our atonement is only found at the cross of Christ and can't be attained by our effort. Without giving too much away, this truth seems to be poignantly borne out in this story.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The "Gods of the Copybook Headings" strike again

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return.

I thought of those lines from Kipling's poem this morning after hearing the shocking news of Benazir Bhutto's assassination. Coming as it does during this semi-holiday week when most of us are enjoying the blessings of peace and prosperity, it's an abrupt reminder of the darker realities that reign in other parts of the world. It's hard to say whether these events will have major ramifications for us -- but considering that Pakistan has been somewhat of a U.S. ally, possesses nuclear weapons and is the true frontline in the West's struggle against Islamic terrorism -- I'd say it's a good bet.

UPDATE: Ahmed Rashid on the Benazir Bhutto Assassination

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Oscar Peterson (1925-2007)

As a jazz lover I'd be remiss not to mention the passing of Oscar Peterson on Sunday. Peterson was among a handful of the greatest jazz pianists of the 20th century and perhaps the greatest jazz musician to ever come out of Canada. One of the first jazz albums I ever bought was Night Train. Peterson's playing was characterized by a virtuosic technique that could sizzle or do a slow burn, accompanied by impeccable taste. The New York Times pays tribute.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

In case you missed this...

Another reason why John Piper is my hero. He looked a little bit like Buddy Holly didn't he?

Looking back at Little Women

I'm not ashamed to say that Little Women is one of my all-time favorite movies -- specifically the 1994 version starring Winona Ryder and a host of talented actors. Louisa May Alcott's novel has had a long history of adaptation for the screen (Shannon even remembers watching a cartoon version as a girl). Playing Jo March, Ryder was following in the formidable footsteps of Katherine Hepburn (the 1933 version) and June Allyson (1949).

Having never seen those earlier films I can't compare her to them, but I love Ryder's work here. She has a wholesome, wide-eyed quality that subtly changes into something more complex as her character matures and faces the triumphs and tragedies of family, friendship and love. I think Ryder's performance in Little Women must have benefited from her work in Martin Scorsese's splendid adaptation of The Age of Innocence the previous year. She has a similar quality in both films. I find all the perfomances appealing and believable except for Samantha Mathis, playing the grown-up Amy, who seems stiff and out of place. More on her below

Every scene of Little Women is beautifully lit and the sets and costumes are picture postcard perfect. The film has an idealized glow, even the "hovel house" where the poor immigrant family lives looks picturesque. But hey, it's not meant to be a work of gritty realism! Another asset is the score by Thomas Newman. Yes, it's a bit cliched and sounds remarkably similar to his score for The Shawshank Redemption from the same year (he received Oscar nominations for both films losing to Hans Zimmer for The Lion King), but again, I think it works in this context.

It's hard to think of another American film that featured more A-list actors (or actors that went on to become A-list) than Little Women. In addition to Ryder there's Susan Sarandon (who's aged more gracefully than any American actress I can think of), Claire Danes, Kirsten Dunst, Gabriel Byrne, Christian Bale...even Eric Stoltz, who became an Indy-film darling, and whose performance as the staid tutor John Brooke was a follow-up to his turn as loopy drug dealer Lance in Pulp Fiction. 1994 was a big year for Stoltz! The only exception to the model of stardom was Trini Alvarado, who played oldest March sister Meg, but went on to only moderate success before dropping out of sight. According to Wikipedia, she now resides in New York with her actor husband. Samantha Mathis went on to act in some successful films and has had a long career in TV, including starring in an episode of Lost earlier this year. But she may be best known as the girlfriend of actor River Phoenix. She was with Phoenix the night he died of a drug overdose outside The Viper Room, the Hollywood club once owned by Johnny Depp.

I've watched Little Women too many times to count and never get tired of it. I pulled it down off the shelf a few nights ago and introduced it to Shannon. It's not usually thought of as a "Christmas movie", but several scenes take place at Christmas and I believe it makes a fine Christmas movie! Here's the first 10 minutes. It's worth watching for the opening credits montage which feels like a video Christmas card. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Who was Quirinius?

I've been memorizing Luke 2:1-21, and every time I recite verse 2 I find myself stumbling over the name Quirinius. It just doesn't trip off the tongue as nicely as Caesar Augustus. How did this guy get in the Bible?, I wondered. So I did what any normal person with a computer does in such cases: I googled him. Well, it turns out alliteration is not the only difficulty here. Google turned up literally thousands of results for Quirinius, henceforth Q (but don't confuse him with this guy). A lot of the stuff I turned up was from people who want to cast doubt on the reliability of the New Testament authors, because, as I learned, there's an apparent discrepancy in Luke's dating of Jesus's birth in relation to the first Roman census and the years when Q was governor of Syria. These people say "aha, here's the smoking gun that proves that the Christmas story is a fairy tale"! This kind of mistake would be out of character for Luke, since he's proved over and over to be a careful and reliable historian. For instance, in Acts, details that he gives regarding places and people of the ancient Roman world, which were once thought to be wrong, have turned out to be accurate based on more recent historical and archaeological research.

Time and further research may prove Luke right in this case too. But, in the meantime, does the fact that we can't resolve this definitively cast doubt on Luke's account of the first Christmas? Indeed of the whole Bible? It doesn't for me. One possible historical inaccuracy doesn't cancel out the hundreds of instances where the Bible has proved to be remarkably accurate. And as New Testament scholar Daniel Wallace points out in a balanced (and very technical) discussion of The Problem of Luke 2:2:

At bottom, our belief in the infallibility and authority of scripture is a faith-stance, just as our belief in the Deity of Christ is a faith-stance. This does not mean that we have no basis! Nor does it mean that we are obligated to solve all problems to our satisfaction before we can believe. As B. B. Warfield argued long ago, we believe in the accuracy of the Bible, first of all, because the biblical writers themselves both held and taught this view. And if we consider the biblical writers to be trustworthy as doctrinal guides, then their doctrine of the Bible must also be trustworthy.

"My Gift to Jeanne"

On Tuesday, Shannon and I received a letter from our friend Stephen Hamilton that touched our hearts. Stephen is a missionary with Urban Youth Impact in West Palm Beach. He gave me permission to share it here.

December 18, 2007

Dear Stephen & Shannon,

Hello and happy holidays! I trust that you are looking forward to Christmas as much as I am. I will be heading to North Carolina to spend some much needed time with my family. I will hopefully have a lot of time to read and relax, especially since life has been keeping me busy.

I wanted to share a heartfelt story that happened this month in my ministry. My housemates and I take prayer walks through our neighborhood every morning of the week. It was rather cold one morning last week when we left our house, so I put on the UYI sweatshirt I had just received. It’s a great sweatshirt with a verse from Romans on the back of it. Towards the end of our walk, I realized that I wasn’t the only one who was cold.

We came across a young woman curled up in a ball on the sidewalk, shivering. She had stretched her thin T-shirt over her knees and down to her feet in an attempt to stay warm. I recognized her because we had met before. Her name is Jeanne and she looks about 25-years-old. Jeanne and I have had a few conversations, and I beep at her or ring my bike bell at her when we cross paths. She is always on the street and her life on these streets has taken its toll on her. If you saw her, you would understand what I mean.

I approached Jeanne and offered my sweatshirt to her, which she accepted. I told her to wear it with pride because it was my favorite. Since that morning, I have seen Jeanne wearing the sweatshirt, and some of my co-workers have seen her, too. The other day while on our prayer walk, my housemates and I passed her again. She was lying on the sidewalk asleep, cuddled up in the UYI sweatshirt.

I’m happy that she is staying warm, and it makes me smile to know that Jeanne is walking around in a sweatshirt that says, “I have become all things to all men so that I might save some.” I hope that this verse will reflect the way I live my life as I seek to minister to my neighbors in need.

Merry Christmas!

Stephen Hamilton

Click here if you would like to support Stephen's ministry.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Paul Thomas Anderson (one of my favorite filmmakers) sits down with Terry Gross (my favorite interviewer) to discuss his much anticipated new film There Will Be Blood.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

To Santa or not to Santa? (with apologies to Will)

For your consideration, two articulate Christians who take different positions on whether the fella with the red suit and white beard should be a part of a Christian home's celebration of Christmas. Lots of food for thought here!

In the "I have no problem with Santa" corner:

C. Michael Patton

In the "down with Santa" corner:

Thabiti Anyabwile

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Boice on Acts 19

I've been working my way through Acts with the help of James Boice's Expositional Commentary. We've also been studying Acts in our Sunday School class. Luke devotes a sizeable chunk of Acts to the planting of the church at Ephesus, probably because it was such an important city of the Roman Empire. Ephesus was a port city of around 300,000 known for it's football field sized temple of the goddess Artemis/Diana (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world) and a 25,000 seat amphitheater. We read about these locations in Acts 19. After two years of preaching and teaching by Paul, God was moving mightily and the church was growing, but Boice notes that the motivation that finally stirred up significant opposition to the gospel was not religious or political, but economic. A riot ensued. How did the early church make such an impact that idol worship, and the economy that depended on it, fizzled out across the Roman Empire within a generation of these first Christians? Boice explains and makes a pointed application for us today:

The riot in Ephesus, described in Acts 19:23-41, was a proof of Paul's success. If Paul had come to the city and had simply made a tiny, little beginning, with only a few people meeting perhaps somewhere in a home, the riot would not have happened. Such a movement would have had no impact on Ephesian society. But the fact that there was a riot and so many people got stirred up in defense of Artemis is proof of how successful the preaching of the gospel had been.

There had been a strengthening of the Christian community, first of all. That is, not only had the gospel spread so that many had become Christians, but the Christians had become serious about being Christians. Maybe that is where we ought to start when we think in terms of social reform today: with the transformation of Christians. These Christians had come under the power of the Spirit of God through the preaching of the Word so thoroughly that they were convicted of sin, confessed it, and then actually brought out and destroyed the things that were opposed to Christianity. These things were magic scrolls in which incantations were written, and they were very valuable (see Acts 19:19).

What followed after the Christians got serious was an impact on the society so strong that the riot described in this chapter was the inevitable reaction by those who resented it. Christianity had impacted their business. That is where people are hurt most, in their pocketbooks. Christians certainly and perhaps other people too simply lost interest in the pagan temples.

Let me suggest that if our Christianity is not affecting the economy of our world, we do not have much Christianity. I know we do not like to hear that, because we tend to think that our economy is the product of our Christianity. We think of the Western world as being Christian and therefore capitalistic, and there is some truth to that. At the same time, when Christians live as Christians, it will affect how they use their money, there will be an impact on the economy (negatively for some), and inevitably there will be hostility toward Christians, as there was here.

How did Christianity triumph? How did Christians win the day? It was not by appealing to numbers. It was not by a play on the emotions. The Christians did not circulate a petition to see if they could get 51 percent of the Ephesians to sign it, a petition saying, "Artemis is no goddess, and the God of the Old Testament if the true God." The Christians did not have a mass rally. They did not send Christians into the amphitheater to do their thing, the way Demetrius and his crew had gotten people together to do his thing. They didn't sing emotional songs. They did exactly what Jesus Christ had done and what he had send them into the world to do: They preached the gospel so that men and women got converted, and once they were converted they taught them how to live for Jesus Christ.

Do you want to make an impact on the world today? Do you want to turn this economy of ours upside down? That is the way. It is by teaching the Word and by following hard after Jesus Christ. It does not take large numbers; a small group can do it. Many small groups have.

*James Montgomery Boice, Acts: an Expositional Commentary, Baker Books (1997)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"There is much in this world that doubt cannot explain"

Garrison Keillor writes movingly on the Nativity, teenagers and New York at Christmas-time. The only thing better than reading this fine essay, would be hearing GK read it on the radio.

Thanks to Jeffrey Overstreet for the link.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Scorsese on Hitchcock

Any Hitchcock fans out there? I know there are a few of you. Martin Scorsese recently directed and starred in this brilliantly executed 9-minute commercial for Reserva wine, which is part mockumentary part homage to the master.

Frightfully Pleased is proud to present The Key to Reserva.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The purpose of Christmas

My wife and I were recently wronged, and frankly, I'm mad about it. So mad, that for the first time in my life I may be suing someone. Maybe you've been there. Speaking of that someone who wronged us, for some reason the words "pray for your enemies" crossed my mind this morning, and I did in fact pause and pray for the salvation of this particular person, adding a closing prayer (I couldn't help myself) that he would see the error of his ways and make restitution.

People talk a lot about the meaning of Christmas. Perhaps it would be better to talk about the purpose of Christmas. Jesus summed it up for his disciples in Mark 10:45, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Even more astonishing is that Jesus came to die for his enemies, those who had wronged him infinitely more than any of us will ever be wronged. "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life." (Romans 5:10) I can't imagine dying for the person that wronged me, yet Jesus came to die for those who had wronged him. The more that truth lands on me, the more I see and value the gift of Christmas.

John, who was on the receiving end of Jesus's rebuke in Mark 10, summed up the purpose of Christmas like this, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil." (1 John 3:8) I love that! But I think my favorite is Philippians 2:5-11, a passage I've memorized and often preach to myself.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

That's the purpose of Christmas. Jesus came into the world to transform me from his enemy to his friend. In the words of the hymnwriter J. Wilbur Chapman:

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.*

*J. Wilbur Chapman, Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Brooks on Romney's community of faith

Mitt Romney gave a speech on Thursday designed to allay fears about his Mormonism and unite "people of faith" behind his campaign. I didn't see it, but it sounds like it was well received by many religious conservatives. One observer who wasn't as impressed was David Brooks. In an astute analysis, Brooks puts his finger on a common problem with much discussion of religion and "faith" nowadays -- the tendency to blur distinctions and sacrifice truth. Brooks sees more clearly than most the danger in confusing the God of "American civic religion" with the God of the Bible.

In Romney’s account, faith ends up as wishy-washy as the most New Age-y secularism. In arguing that the faithful are brothers in a common struggle, Romney insisted that all religions share an equal devotion to all good things. Really? Then why not choose the one with the prettiest buildings?

In order to build a voting majority of the faithful, Romney covered over different and difficult conceptions of the Almighty. When he spoke of God yesterday, he spoke of a bland, smiley-faced God who is the author of liberty and the founder of freedom. There was no hint of Lincoln’s God or Reinhold Niebuhr’s God or the religion most people know — the religion that imposes restraints upon on the passions, appetites and sinfulness of human beings. He wants God in the public square, but then insists that theological differences are anodyne and politically irrelevant.

Romney’s job yesterday was to unite social conservatives behind him. If he succeeded, he did it in two ways. He asked people to rally around the best traditions of America’s civic religion. He also asked people to submerge their religious convictions for the sake of solidarity in a culture war without end.

Romney might turn out to be the best option for Christian voters, but hopefully we won't sacrifice truth on the altar of keeping Hillary out of the White House.

Friday, December 7, 2007


Shannon and I just returned from five (mostly) wonderful days aboard the magnificent Norwegian Jewel. Once I finish transitioning back into the "real world" I may post some photos and such, or I may not (I try to keep the narcissism factor of this blog reasonably low). Actually, perhaps I'll write a book on the experience of cruising someday. I'll call it The Good the Bad and the Ugly: Human Nature at Sea (or an attempt to return to Eden).

A cruise ship is a fascinating microcosm of economics, sociology and multi-culturalism rolled into one, and the hundreds of crew-members -- mostly from the Philippines, Indonesia and the former Soviet bloc -- are the real hardest-working people in show business. They have my complete admiration and are the people I'll remember most fondly. Their stories should be told.

At sea, you lose track of time and news back home seems oddly distant. We did see brief snatches of news on the horrible, yet all too familiar shooting spree in Nebraska. We happened to be in Grand Cayman that day, where the cops don't carry guns and simply being caught with a firearm results in a stiff prison sentence. Not surprisingly, gun-crime is non-existent and crime of all sorts is very low. Too repressive? The Caymanians don't think so.

SO. It's again "front" and "back" instead of "forward" and "aft", and Armando won't be stopping by to make the bed tomorrow. Oh well. Cruising is grand, but it's good to be home!

BTW I just added two blogs to the "friends and favorites" list: The Official Blog of Proverb Newsome from our friend and neighbor Proverb and musings from the rose tree from our friend Jessica D. Check 'em out!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Rush says it's time to celebrate

Yesterday marked the end of the Atlantic Hurricane season, and according to Palm Beach resident and hurricane expert Rush Limbaugh, there's a conspiracy afoot at the National Hurricane Center. Rush cites a story in the Houston Chronicle in which several meteorologists question the decision to name 6 of this year's 14 named storms. Could it be that the "liberals" at the NHC have changed the criteria for naming storms in an effort to gain support for global warming initiatives? Rush opines:

We never named subtropical storms but will this year, and the reason they started doing that is because their predictions were running light. Their predictions were embarrassing, so they had to get some named storms. Do you know where Nova Scotia is? Nova Scotia, way up there above Maine, and there was a storm system that formed up there, and then it went out to sea and dissipated. They called it a tropical storm, a sea storm, I think, doesn't matter what it is. No way that was a tropical storm. For one thing, it didn't happen in the tropics. Nova Scotia is not the tropics. I suspected this all along, naming storms that are not tropical, central pressure has not fallen below, even though the winds might be 39 miles-an-hour higher, which is the low designation for a tropical storm. The barometric pressure never got low enough to be named, but they did it anyway just because their predictions were running so slow and the season was so uneventful, and they had to do something to keep people interested here. Then we had the story yesterday, we had two years of light hurricane activity in this country, "Experts are worried you will become apathetic," when, in fact, we ought to be celebrating that storms creamed other people this year and last year rather than us. We took our share of them a couple years ago.

Well, Rush, I am celebrating the fact that God mercifully spared South Florida of any hurricanes the last two years, but it's not because we are any more deserving than those people in Jamaica, Mexico and Central America that got "creamed" by Hurricane Dean and Hurricane Felix this year. In fact, when I contemplate natural disasters I'm reminded of something infinitely worse than a Category 5 hurricane, the wrath of God that we're all under apart from God's mercy in Jesus at the Cross. If not for restraining grace, each of us would be facing a Cat 5 every day of our lives. Perhaps a bit of humble gratitude would be in order.

Lamentations 3:22, Zephaniah 1:18, Hebrews 2:3