Saturday, October 29, 2005

Daddypundit Will Return.....

We're away on vacation for the next several days. We don't have reliable internet access where we are plus our computer chose this particular time to crash. I have the feeling that these events were by God's design and for a specific purpose. I'll have more to share about that as well as our other travel adventures when I return. Regular blogging will resume on November 7th.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Miers Withdraws

Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination to the Supreme Court.

While the mainstream media will try to paint this as a defeat for President Bush, this actually relieves him of the pressure from conservatives to withdraw her nomination and allows him to nominate someone who is more likely to gain wider support from conservatives. Ms. Miers mave have done the President a huge favor. It will be interesting to see who the President decides to nominate next. Whoever the next nominee is, it's a safe bet the confirmation process will still be ugly.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Book Review: The Thinking Toolbox

Before I began reading The Thinking Toolbox by Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn I decided to conduct a little experiment. Since the book is supposed to be for children age 13 through adult, I decided to allow my daughters (who are 10 and 8 and both avid readers) to take a look at the book and give me their impressions of it. Was it a book they would want to buy if the saw it at a bookstore? Did it interest them? Little did I know that I was going to be causing a fight as both of them were immediately drawn to the book and decided to read it on their own.

This experience at least proved to me what I suspected when I first received the book: that the Bluedorns had done a great job of making logic fun and entertaining which is not necessarily an easy thing to do. In fact, when I think about a logic textbook I think of something that is dry and boring to read. The Thinking Toolbox is anything but boring.

The book is divided into four sections:  tools for thinking, tools for opposing viewpoints, tools for science, and projects you can complete to help reinforce the principles taught throughout the book. Each lesson is brief and ends with a practical exercise to help the reader understand how to apply the principle that is being taught.

This book can either be read individually or as a group and can easily be incorporating into a classroom or homeschool setting. Anyone who invests in this book will be picking up a valuable resource that will help them not just understand logic but how to apply a biblical worldview to thinking tasks.

The Thinking Toolbox is published by Christian Logic and was provided to me for review through Mind and Media. No consideration was received for this review apart from the book.

Monday, October 24, 2005

I Support the Miers Nomination

Ever since Harriet Miers' nomination to the Supreme Court was announced, I've been sitting on the fence trying to decide whether to support the President's choice. Since N. Z. Bear has issued a call to conservative bloggers to take a stand on this issue, I figured it was time to finally make up my mind. I am supporting the Miers' nomination.

This is not a decision that I have made lightly. Early on, I wrote about reservations I had about how Ms. Miers' faith was being used as the primary criteria for supporting her nomination. I'm still troubled by prominent evangelicals such as James Dobson, Charles Colson, Pat Robertson, and others who have been mixing faith with politics especially on this issue. I do not believe it is wise for evangelicals to seek political power in and of itself. But I also do not believe that a faith test is proper, either. Just because someone professes to be an Evangelical Christian disqualifies them from public service.

There is no doubt that this nomination has not been handled properly by the White House. I have no doubt that they were not prepared for the backlash within their own party that they have received. But I don't understand how Republicans can honestly believe they can oppose this nomination and not pay a political price.

I also understand the frustration of fellow conservatives who had wished the President had nominated someone else. Many names of qualified judges were tossed around following Chief Justice Roberts' confirmation. My own personal preference was for the President to nominate Judge Janice Rogers Brown. I relished the idea of Democratic Senators trying legitimately oppose her nomination particularly when they have regularly relied on overwhelming support of African-Americans in winning elections. But the reality is that the nomination of someone like Judge Brown (or a Hispanic candidate such as Miguel Estrada or even Alberto Gonzales) would simply politicize the nomination process. It's messy enough without making a nomination simply to score political points.

I even understand the desire of some of Ms. Miers' critics to know more about her position is on certain issues, particularly abortion. But the fact is that abortion is only one issue in a broad range of issues that the Supreme Court will decide. In reality, a good judge should be evaluating cases based on the facts and the law, not their own feelings about a particular issue. I am honestly more concerned about learning more about how Ms. Miers will approach her job as an Associate Justice than her opinion on any number of high-profile decisions that have been handed down over the years by the Supreme Court.

I know in taking this stand that I am in direct opposition to many of my fellow conservatives. I honestly haven't read their opinions so I don't know how well-reasoned their opposition to Ms. Miers might be. They may simply be opposing her nomination for any or all of the reasons I've outlined above.

My support for Ms. Miers does not have anything to do with Hugh Hewitt's or any other blogger's support for the nomination. However, this post from Hugh is probably one of the best written arguments I've read thus far in support of her nomination.

My support for Ms. Miers is also not a cheap ploy for more traffic even though I've noticed from the traffic reports that lots of visitors to this blog of late have been searching for a post on Ms. Miers.

Why, then, would I go out on a limb and support Ms. Miers? It comes down to this: I trust the President when it comes to judicial nominees. It is the one area where he has consistently proven himself capable of making wise choices. Since I don't know Ms. Miers personally or anything about her judicial philosophy or personal convictions I have no choice but to decide whether to trust the person nominating her.

This President has made tough choices before. He's not afraid to make unpopular or politically risky decisions (e.g. stem cell research, Iraq, Social Security reform to name a few). A lesser man would have folded like a cheap tent in the face of the vicious political rhetoric this President has had to face on a daily basis. Even when I disagree with President Bush on certain issues (illegal immigration, runaway federal spending) I still admire his willingness to stick to his guns. A man willing to take such risks does not rush into decisions. I have no doubt that he has thought through (and I would even venture to guess carefully prayed through) the issue before taking a stand. A man willing to display such leadership is worthy of my unwavering support.

If Ms. Miers' nomination is defeated, it will not be because the President made a bad choice. It will not even be because the White House did not properly manage the nomination process. It will be because Republican Senators did not follow their leader as they should have. And if that leads to political defeat in 2006, 2008, or beyond then the Republican Party will get exactly what they deserve for not following their leader.

It's My Blogiversary!

Actually, it was two days ago but I thought it was today. I had been going by the Sitemeter at the bottom of the page which has been counting visitors since October 24, 2004. But according to my first post, I started this blog on October 22, 2004. So October 22nd would truly be my blogiversary.

Anyway, it's been an interesting trip so far with this blog. When I first started the blog, I was primarily focused on political matters since we were in the throes of the 2004 election cycle. But as time moved on, I've branched out to post on all sorts of other topics that I hadn't even considered when I started. In fact, this blog has become so much more than I imagined that it's amazing to see what has happened in this past year. In addition to getting to know a whole host of bloggers from literally all over the world (see the Blog Friends list in the sidebar and you'll know what I mean) there have been a bunch of other great highlights:

All of this is quite amazing to me that I have been allowed to do so much with this little blog. I am truly blessed to have had so many opportunities thus far. I appreciate everyone who has come to visit over the past year and has cared anything at all about what I've had to say. Thank you for your continued support. I look forward to seeing what's in store for the blog this next year.

Interview: Jennifer Ehle

Jennifer Ehle is probably best known for her portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet in the 1995 miniseries Pride and Prejudice. Although she often believed to be British, she actually was born and raised in North Carolina. Both her parents are well-known. Her father, John Elhe, is a novelist while her mother, Rosemary Harris is an acclaimed actress.

This past summer, Ms. Ehle appeared on the London stage opposite Kevin Spacey in The Philadelphia Story. As the production was nearing the end of its run, Ms. Ehle agreed to answer questions from fans and bloggers submitted through the Jennifer Ehle Fan Blog. In all, 135 questions were submitted and she was gracious enough to answer almost all of them. Click here to read the entire interview. Here are my questions along with her answers:

Given the popularity of Pride and Prejudice when it first appeared, it would have been natural to expect you to try to capitalize on its success with your subsequent roles. However, it seems that you went out of your way to try not to be typecast in the same type of roles as Elizabeth Bennet. Can you share how you selected the roles you accepted after Pride and Prejudice and whether a fear of typecasting played a part in those selections?

~ When Pride and Prejudice came out September of ‘95, I was already working at the RSC and under contract with them till February of ‘96 — so there was nothing I could have done to ‘capitalize’ on the show’s success then, even if I had wanted to.
It suited me perfectly to be unavailable; and to sit tight and wait out the hoopla.
Once I was released from the RSC, I just continued to do what I always had done, which was to take the most interesting (to me) jobs that I was offered. This has changed a little now that I have a family — and am open again to working — but it has not changed a great deal. Now it has to be the most interesting job that is also interesting enough to ask my family to commit to.
I do not feel as though I have ever been type cast. The women I have been lucky enough to play have been complex enough to allow me to use a varied pallet. Although I have played a few women whom I think of as ‘warmth-exuders’ who stand by their men — they have been quite varied apart from having that quality in common.

One of the wonderful aspects of Pride and Prejudice is the relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and her father (portrayed by Benjamin Whitrow). Can you tell us about the chemistry between the two of you and how it affected your portrayal of Elizabeth? Does the relationship between these two characters in any way reflect your relationship with your own father?

~ I really enjoyed filming the father/daughter scenes with Ben. It was one of my very favorite bits of the filming. They were shot right at the start of the five month shoot and so, I was not yet exhausted — and they were done all in a clump, with just the two of us there.
The relationship between Mr. Bennet and Lizzie was always my favorite part of the book. It was, for me growing up, the love story in the book; and I would weep whenever I reread it and would get to the bit where Lizzie tells Mr. Bennet that Darcy is the best man she has ever known. It is such an important part of the whole female fantasy of the story — the favorite daughter who idolizes her father above all men and then, when he fails to protect Lydia
from herself, is exposed as a mere human being.
Then, and only then, is the young woman free to find her own mate and open her heart to him.

Of the following men from Pride and Prejudice- Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley or Mr. Bennet- which would you want your son to grow up to be like and why?

~ These are the options?! It’s amazing the species continues.

You mentioned in an interview that the only role that would take you away from your family would be Tracy Lord in The Philadelphia Story. How have your career choices changed as a result of getting married and having a son?

~ Well, when I met my husband, I knew that I wanted to pay full attention to this relationship. I had not enjoyed acting for a lot of my twenties and wanted to step away and see how that felt; to see if the desire to act would return in full.
So as soon as my commitments exhausted themselves (Possession and Design For Living) I took that time.
Three years later, I was curious to see how it would feel to act again and it was fine. I liked it, but still wasn’t sure.
Now, four-and-some years on from ‘walking away,’ I am really enjoying it and have not felt this unambivalent about working for at least a decade. It’s fun being an actress. Who knew?

How much influence did your parents have on you in your choice of acting as a career? How much has your mother influenced you particularly in your career as a stage actress?

~ While most kids may be asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” — the question always put to me was, “Are you going to be an actress or a writer?” — and I really never did consider anything else as a possibility. Having grown up with parents in these quite bohemian, joyous, autonomous careers, I do not see why I would ever have looked much further.

How did you prepare for the role of Tracy Lord? She seems very over-the- top compared to your previous roles that are far more understated. Have you had a chance to see the film and if not do you plan to see it?

~ Still haven't seen the Grant/Hepburn movie. I’m sure I will one day.

The most important question any North Carolina native should answer: which do you prefer - Eastern or Western North Carolina barbecue and why?

~ I don’t know! I don’t know! Oh, help.
I would imagine I have never even had Eastern. Have not had a lot of BBQ, because my Mother is involved in reforming the way pigs are farmed so we avoid factory-farmed pork as a rule. But did I mention her cheese grits?

This interview is covered by Creative Commons License.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

A New Blog from Nancy Pearcey

Nancy Pearcey, author of the award-winning book Total Truth (and one of my favorite writers) has started her own blog with her husband Richard called The Pearcey Report. This will be a blog that you will want to check often.

Hat tip: Writing Right.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Book Review: The Boundaries of Technique

In The Boundaries of Technique, Professor Andrew Yuengert (Professor of Economics, Pepperdine University) uses the moral philosophy of Thomas Aquinas to show that economics and ethics cannot be isolated from one another but are in fact intertwined. In other words, economics is not a morally neutral discipline. Rather, the economist must understand why are they are doing what they do in their studies instead of just what they are doing. Professor Yuengert points out that most economists are focused on method rather than motivation and fail to see the importance of ethical considerations in their work.

Frankly, I found the book a little difficult to read partly because I am neither an economist nor well-read in the area of philosophy. However, Professor Yuengert appears to have researched the topic rather well and makes a carefully documented case for the incorporation of ethical considerations into economic studies. This is a book that I would recommend for students of economics as there are considerations that should be made for a moral compass to guide one's studies.

The Boundaries of Technique is part of the Studies in Ethics and Economics series from the Acton Institute and is published by Lexington Books. The book was provided to me for review through Mind and Media. No other consideration was received for this review.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

What if the Miers Nomination is Withdrawn?

President Bush has certainly taken a lot of heat, especially from conservatives, over the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. What would happen if the President decided to withdraw the nomination? Carol Platt Liebau, in a column today on Human Events Online, says that withdrawing the nomination would be a terrible move:

First, recall that at the conclusion of the Roberts hearings, Republicans gleefully pointed out that 22 Democrats, led by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), had voted against a clearly qualified and truly outstanding nominee at the behest of far-left special interest groups. Forcing the President to withdraw the Miers nomination likewise would open Republicans to charges that the President is toeing a line laid down by a highly energized and vocal interest within his own party. That, in turn, would position the Democrats to argue, wrongly but credibly, that judicial selections are being dictated by an elite cadre of "scary extremists." Hardly the impression that Republicans want lingering in a voter’s mind on Election Day.

Moreover, for the past five years, Republicans have, quite rightly, faulted Senate liberals for imposing an ideological litmus test on judicial nominees. Noting that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed with a vote of 96-3 and that Antonin Scalia ascended the court on a 98-0 vote, Republicans have repeatedly invoked the days when nominees were evaluated on their qualifications and competence – not on their ideology. By opposing Ms. Miers on the basis of their worst (but yet unproven) fears about her political preferences or philosophy, conservative critics lend credibility to the argument that both judging itself and the evaluation of judicial nominations are irreducibly political exercises.

Finally, a premature withdrawal of the Miers nomination would create other political problems. Outside-the-beltway Republicans, along with evangelical leaders like Dr. James Dobson and Richard Land, look favorably on the Miers nomination. Anti-Miers rationales – ranging from "we're afraid she's not an originalist" to "she's not the best qualified candidate" to "the President should have picked someone else" – simply don't resonate with a significant portion of the Republican base. They see nothing amiss with Ms. Miers' credentials, and are inclined to trust the President's judgment on the nominee given his record on appellate judges, tax cuts, the war on terror and social security reform. Seeking to sabotage the Miers nomination before a hearing creates the misimpression within the party (and without) that some prominent Republicans disdain the achievements of a woman who is, at the very least, an accomplished legal practitioner and trailblazer.

I don't know whether the President expected the criticism he has received especially from fellow conservatives over this nomination. He's not been one to back down from a fight before. My guess is he'll run the risk of having the Senate deny Ms. Miers a seat on the Court before he would withdraw the nomination. Given the political fallout that could occur if he did withdraw the nomination it's probably better to go ahead and fight this one out even if it means losing the battle.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Curse of the Black Sox

Dave Anderson writes today in the Austin Times-Statesman that the Chicago White Sox are haunted by the Black Sox of 1919, the eight players who took money to throw the World Series. (Hat tip: Baseball Musings)

While the Black Sox scandal is a fascinating story and an important part of baseball history, I don't think that it has anything to do with the success or failure of the current squad. The current Sox have proven capable of overcoming adversity (and even a bad call or two) in order to win. I expect them to be a formidable opponent for either the Cardinals or Astros in the Series.

If you would like to know more about the Black Sox scandal, I highly recommend Eliot Asinof's terrific book Eight Men Out as well as John Sayles' movie by the same name.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Next Great Awakening?

The September/October issue of Rare Jewel Magazine features a number of stories on the Next Great Awakening. In other words, are we poised for another widespread revival in this country as we have seen in the past?

To get a better understanding of where we are as a country and where we are headed, it's helpful first to look at where we have been so far. Through the articles contained in this isue, they do a good job of laying the historical foundation of previous revivals and showing what factors were involved so that we can get a better sense of whether such a revival can occur again and what our role as individual believers might be in such a revival.

As with prior issues I have reviewed, Rare Jewel has proven why it is such a great tool for believers who want to be involved in the critical issues of our day. Though we can debate whether another Great Awakening can occur (and whether we should be seeking one), we can at least be prepared if it does by consulting this great magazine.

No consideration was provided to me for this review apart from the magazine.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Breaking the Curse.....Again?

Last year the Boston Red Sox broke their World Series drought with a victory in the Fall Classic against the Cardinals. Now it's the Chicago White Sox turn to break the curse as they clinched a spot in the Fall Classic with a terrific win last night over the Anaheim Angels. Following a series opening loss, the White Sox managed to get four complete games from their starters en route to a 4-1 ALCS victory. It marks the first time since 1959 the Sox have made it to the Series and they haven't won since 1917 (they would have most likely won the 1919 series if it hadn't been for the Black Sox who intentionally threw the Series).

While the NLCS still remains to be decided (Houston can clinch tonight with a victory over St. Louis), the Sox look like they are going to be tough to beat. As much as I hate to say it (and you know as a Cubs fan, I do) this may be the year for the Sox.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Troubling Aspect of the Miers Nomination

Although I want to be able to trust President Bush's judgement in nominating Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, I am experiencing increasing difficulty in supporting his decision. Statements that have been made about her being an evangelical Christian have done nothing to ease my reservations. In fact, in some respects, the invoking of her faith as the main reason for supporting her nomination has caused me even greater anxiety about her capabilities as a Supreme Court justice than before.

Stephen Crampton of the American Family Association apparently shares some of the same reservations and clearly articulates the problem with the nomination and the methods being used to defend Miers' selection (hat tip: Best of the Web):

Merely being an evangelical Christian does not automatically qualify one for any position. Specific knowledge and skills are required for almost any job, and sitting on the highest court in the land is not just any job. Dr. Dobson’s endorsement, while admittedly weighty, was predicated upon the private assurances of Ms. Miers’ friends and colleagues, and her church affiliation. While these may be important factors, they do not provide assurance that she possesses the necessary skills and knowledge for the job, and they do not settle for most of us the question of her judicial philosophy.

The fact that Ms. Miers is an evangelical Christian is irrelevant to the issue at hand: whether she is qualified to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court. In fact, the first question that should have been asked is whether she is the best candidate available. Just because someone professes the same faith as I do doesn't make him or her the right person for the job especially one as important as this one.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Outdoor Bible

A few weeks ago I received a sample in the mail of a new Bible called the Outdoor Bible. When I first heard about this I was admittedly skeptical given the recent efforts to repackage the Bible and market it to different audiences (this and this are some of the more extreme examples of this practice). However, when I actually got my hands on the Outdoor Bible I was pleasantly surprised.

The Outdoor Bible was the brainchild of two friends who loved the outdoors but couldn't figure out how to carry a Bible with them that wouldn't get wet or ruined by weather. Eventually they came up with this product which is very durable and folds compactly and is easy to carry in a backpack.

This is one of the few instances where I can say a "repackaging" of the Bible makes sense as this is a very handy way for hikers and other outdoor lovers to carry the Bible with them wherever they go.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Christian Carnival XCI

The latest installment of the Christian Carnival is up at Matt Jones Blog. Why not stop by and check out all the great posts featured in this week's Carnival? You'll be glad you did.

Monday, October 10, 2005

What's a Worldview and Why Should I Care?

It's not uncommon these days to hear Christians talk about the need to develop a biblical worldview but often we don't know how to do it. Nancy Pearcey, author of Total Truth, tackles the issue in an article entitled "Why Worldview Matters" in the latest issue of Homeschool Enrichment Magazine. Although the article is targeted towards those who have chosen to homeschool their children, there is great instruction there for all parents. Regardless of educational choices, parents need to be equipping their children to think critically and through the prism of biblical truth.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Peeking Into Walden Media

Christianity Today has just posted an interview with Walden Media co-founder President Micheal Flaherty whose company is producing the film adaptation of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe which is due be released in December. While many fans of the C. S. Lewis books have been wary of Disney's involvement in the film, it turns out that Walden had total control over the creative development of the film:

Why the partnership with Disney for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?

Flaherty: Because the marketing and distribution of films is such an enormous undertaking. With this film, we have full creative control, while Disney is in control of the marketing and distribution. They're certainly proving that there was no better studio to take this and really create a great franchise with it. We couldn't be happier with the job that they've done.

But hiring the filmmakers and making all the big decisions is all Walden?

Flaherty: All Walden. And that was all in place before we closed any deal with Disney.

Many evangelicals boycotted Disney for a while. And Narnia is very dear to that audience, so there's some irony that Disney is involved. Was that discussed before you partnered with Disney?

Flaherty: What was discussed was that we just need to make a faithful adaptation of this book. That's our sole prerogative. We wanted a guarantee that we had control over that, and Disney really understood that. Everyone was on the same page in terms of making a faithful adaptation out of this.

So if people have gripes about the film adaptation, they should come to Walden, not Disney.

Flaherty: Absolutely. We're trying to build a brand for Walden as something that parents, pastors, teachers and librarians are really comfortable with. So if they see our logo on a movie poster, they'll know that they're going to get a certain experience. We hope that with Holes and Winn-Dixie, people are starting to get an idea.

I've already seen Holes, I Am David, and Because of Winn-Dixie and have been impressed with the quality of the productions. Based on the trailer and the obvious attention to detail The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe promises to be a terrific film.

The Harriet Myers Nomination

It's too early for me to say that I am in agreement with President Bush's nomination of Harriet Myers for the Supreme Court since I haven't read enough about her yet to know whether this was a wise choice. It is interesting that the President has managed to upset folks on both sides of the political spectrum with this choice and so it will be interested to see how it plays out. It was a surprising pick to me given the number of other qualified candidates that seemed to be available.

However, I'm inclined to agree with my Stones Cry Out colleague Jim and simply trust the President on this choice.

My Two or colleague Aaron also has some interesting analysis on the nomination which he claims the Democrats brought this on themselves.

It should be an interesting confirmation process.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Right Call

This story is one of the most inspiring I have read in a long time. (Hat tip: Matt Crash).

There's no doubt that Charlie Weis made the right call.