12 Nov 2008

Make your voice heard

Submitted by Paul Brown

I am not yet totally jaded about the capability of our government to respond to the concerns of the people. President-Elect Obama is soliciting our vision for the future of America. Here's what I wrote:

I dream of an America with innocent lives are protected, be they ever so small, ever so defenseless, ever so young. I dream of an America where children are valued and cherished and where families are strong and united. I dream of an America where abortion is both illegal and unthinkable.

Many in the pro-life camp rallied behind Mr. Obama for his promise of change and the hope that he will be able to address social problems like healthcare and poverty. I urge the administration to take a conservative tack on abortion policies. Emphasize and support the family. Discourage divorce. You have proven yourself to be a great communicator; provide the nation with strong moral leadership on these issues, and help us move toward constructive consensus.

I wish you the very best as you work together with Congress to advance our country toward a better future.

What is your vision for America?

(HT: ReadWriteWeb)

P.S. Better results may be achieved by contacting your Representative or Senator since they have fewer constituents.

10 Nov 2008

And now Obama?

Submitted by Paul Brown

In the primary elections, I liked Mike Huckabee. In the general election, I was behind McCain, though with more reservation. And now, Barack Obama has won the general election and in January will become President of the United States of America. Some Christian conservatives are lamenting his victory, mostly because of what they expect that President-elect Obama will do to support so-called abortion rights. More extreme conservatives are predicting that the USA will turn Marxist/socialist/authoritarian under Obama's leadership.

It seems to me that we must first recognize what Obama's victory represents. No matter what we think of Obama's politics or even his person, there is no doubt that the election of the first black president is historic and means a great deal to a lot of people. America has come a long way from where she was fifty years ago on the race issue, and that is something to celebrate.

It seems to me that we must also recognize that Obama has won the election and will be our president. He was elected fair and square, and now he will be our rightful head of state. As Christians and as citizens, we are called to submit to his leadership. This includes praying for him and asking that his governance be good and just. Like all human governments, the administration that takes power in January will be a mixture of good and evil, and we owe God our thanksgiving for the good things that President-elect Obama will do. Eric Redmond cites this passage from John Calvin's commentary on Romans 13:3:

Let us then continue to honor the good appointment of God, which may be easily done, provided we impute to ourselves whatever evil may accompany it. Hence he teaches us here the end for which magistrates are instituted by the Lord; the happy effects of which would always appear, were not so noble and salutary an institution marred through our fault. At the same time, princes do never so far abuse their power, by harassing the good and innocent, that they do not retain in their tyranny some kind of just government: there can then be no tyranny which does not in some respects assist in consolidating the society of men.

Nonetheless, I think it is appropriate to lament what the Obama election means for the abortion issue, both in terms of the policies that are likely to be implemented and in terms of what it indicates about where American culture is at on the issue. Abortion is a travesty against human life, and by no means should we stop caring about the issue. As long as we have the ability to vote for our leaders and influence government action, we can continue to work against legalized abortion. However, with culture seemingly shifting to support abortion rights—or at least not oppose them so strongly—we must take a "both/and" approach to working against abortion. The goverment is not the only means to oppose this moral evil, so let's not throw in the towel just yet. Russell Moore of SBTS, as an example, argues that Christians can work to promote life by developing a thoroughly pro-life counter-culture in our churches. Scott Klusendorf of the Life Training Institute (also previously at Stand to Reason) also provides some direction for how pro-life advocates can continue their work in the Obama era.

My own prediction: Obama will do OK. I think the charges of inexperience are correct, though I think he is a smart man and will choose good advisers. He campaigned by telling people what they want to hear, even if it contradicted other things that he had said to other people; this works for speeches but not for policy. I don't think Congress will play dead, and they may even take advantage of his inexperience to press their own agenda. He is likely to take us backward on abortion, but I don't expect that it will be as bad as it could be. In my opinion, his statement about FOCA to an abortion-rights advocacy group is more likely to turn out to be a political expediency than a true statement of purpose. America is not yet fully committed to abortion rights and abortion-on-demand, so I don't expect the government to forge far ahead of us on the issue.

1 Nov 2008

A Firefox Tip

Submitted by Paul Brown

This is a total nerd post, but this information was very helpful to me in solving an annoyance in the Firefox browser, so I wanted to pass it along in case it might help anyone else.

Since Firefox 3 came out, my Firefox has been starting up slowly. Usually it has been sitting and churning for fifteen or thirty seconds after the window has opened and my default page has started to download. One of the new features in Firefox 3 is a smarter autocomplete algorithm for filling in addresses when you start typing in the address bar. I have wondered if the new sluggish response was related to this new feature and the program having to load in a bunch of browser history data in order to run that autocomplete algorithm. I tried changing the number of days that Firefox keeps history by editing the "Keep my history for at least X days" option under the Privacy tab of the Options dialog, and that didn't help.

This week I found where to tweak the settings for how much history Firefox keeps, and adjusting those settings has totally resolved my slow startup problem. All these settings can be found by going to "about:config". Just type "about:config" in the address bar, and it will bring up a list of a whole slew of configuration options that in many cases don't have any other user interface to adjust them. Scroll down to the settings for "browser.history..." and there are several options that you can change.

Firefox will clear out items in your history older than this many days. This happens when you close Firefox, so if you significantly reduce this number, it may work for a little bit after the first time you close, deleting a bunch of history items
Firefox will clear out items in your history if you have more than this number of items to get you down to this number.
Firefox makes sure you keep at least this number of days in history, even if you exceed the number of sites specified in history_expire_sites

The default setting for browser.history_expire_days is 180 and the default for browser.history_expire_sites is 40,000, so unless you change these through about:config, you can collect quite a large number of items in your browser history.

24 Oct 2008
Book Title: 
Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?
Randy Alcorn
Eternal Perspective Ministries

Since Holly and I are engaged to be married soon (only 127 days to go!), we have had to think through and discuss the issues of contraception/family planning. One of the issues we have to consider is whether or not for Holly to use the pill. Certainly it is a convenient and commonly used option for contraception. When we first discussed the issue—within a week of engagement, I believe—I expressed my initial resistance to using the pill since I had heard that it can sometimes cause spontaneous abortions when the contraceptive mechanisms don't work.

Book Reviews: 


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