14 May 2009

An iGoogle Tip

Submitted by Paul Brown

Every once in a while I come across solutions to computer annoyances. Today I found a very easy solution to the bothersome "tabs" that waste space on the left side of my iGoogle page. Here's what my iGoogle page looked like:

iGoogle page with annoying tabs on the left

To get rid of the useless tabs taking up almost a quarter of the screen on the left,

  1. Use a recent version (>2.0) of Firefox as your web browser. (Actually you can use any Mozilla-based browser that will run .xpi add-ons, including, SeaMonkey, Flock, Songbird, eMusic Remote, Prism.)
  2. Get Adblock Plus. This is a great add-on regardless of whether you care about your iGoogle tabs or not. I have used Adblock Plus for a couple of years now already, and I especially like that Adblock Plus takes out most of the trashy ads on sites like Myspace. Adblock is on Mozilla's list of recommended add-ons and is the #1 most popularly downloaded add-on. All that to say, this add-on is reputable, not some random download recommended by a weirdo. :)
  3. Add "google.com#TD(class=leftborder)" to the list of Adblock filters. Just click the arrow next to ABP to the right of the address bar, select Preferences, click on the "Add Filter" button, paste in "google.com#TD(class=leftborder)", click OK, and it's done!

Now my iGoogle page looks like this:
iGoogle page with annoying tabs removed

Yet another reason to use Firefox rather than "Internet Exploder" (as our new IT guy likes to call it)....

5 May 2009

Singleness & the Church

Submitted by Paul Brown

Having left behind singleness just over two months back, I read this article, Making Singleness Better by Tim Adeney, with a good deal of interest. The article starts out by exploring the various comments of the Apostle Paul with regard to singleness and marriage. In 1 Cor 7, Paul suggests some reasons why one might choose to stay single, counseling that he judges that, in the Corinthian situation of the time, it is preferable to stay single, though no sin to marry. On the other hand, in 1 Tim 5:11-15, Paul counsels that, in the (Ephesian?) situation of the time, it is preferable for the young women to marry rather than stay single.

From this example, the author then moves to examine the situation of our time and make some observations—or rather, ask some questions—about singleness and marriage. He considers these three questions (abridged below):

  • What if most long-term singles aren't that way by choice but by circumstance?
  • What if most voluntary singleness is related more to simply not growing up and assuming adult responsibilities than to dedication to the things of God?
  • What if long-term singleness is a really lonely place to be?

In light of Scripture, how should we respond to these questions? Do the "what-if's" ring true? If so, then what about it? Have a look at Adeney's suggestions, then consider what it might look like in your life and your community. I don't want this to be a "bash-the-church-for-faults-I-see-but-don't-do-anything-about" sort of post. What positive response can we have?

3 May 2009

Swine Flu

Submitted by Paul Brown

I could complain about over-the-top journalism that seems determined to make everyone freak out about sneezes and "the other white meat", but instead I will simply point you to a useful website that will help you diagnose whether you have "swine flu" and give some simple instruction about what to do if you have it. See doihaevswineflu.org.

3 Apr 2009

Really? Iowa was next?

Submitted by Paul Brown

Another state has fallen to a court decision to legitimate homosexual unions as "marriages". This is not surprising. What is surprising is that the fourth state to officially endorse the terminology of "marriage" being applied to homosexual unions is my home state of Iowa. Iowa hardly has the liberal reputation of California, yet there it is. The decision is based upon a simple analysis by the state supreme court that there is no compelling reason to limit marriage licensing by the state to one man and one woman. They examined several arguments for the importance of heterosexual marriage and found them insufficient.

I find this development fascinating, as once again, a state statute is turned over for what amounts to little more than judicial fiat. As in the case of California, "marriage" is held to be a vacuous term with no intrinsic meaning. The Iowa ruling appears to be based less upon the "fundamental right to marry" that was cited in California and more upon a strictly utilitarian assessment of "gay marriage" that concluded that there's nothing harmful about it and no compelling benefit in restricting marriage to heterosexual couples.

The Iowa Supreme Court considered several arguments for guarding marriage to be only for heterosexual couples.

  1. Promotion of Optimal Environment to Raise Children The Court's counter-argument here is that many heterosexual couples do not provide an optimal environment to raise children. The Court also notes that not all homosexual couples would raise children, so it is overly exclusive to bar them from "marrying" on this ground.
  2. Promotion of Procreation The Court's counter-argument here is that letting homosexual couples "marry" does not have any detrimental effect on the procreation of homosexual married couples.
  3. Promoting Stability in Opposite-Sex Relationships The Court's counter-argument here is, like the previous one, that letting homosexual couples "marry" does not have any negative effect on heterosexual married couples.

There were a few other arguments considered, but I think that these were the three strongest. Where I think the Court first went wrong was in implicitly denying that marriage has any intrinsic definition or value. In my mind the issue isn't really about gay marriage, per se. Yes, homosexual behavior is an abomination to the Lord, unhealthy for society, etc., etc. I believe that, but I'm not going to fight for society to uphold that standard; I think we're past that now. The problem is that even the widely and deeply held belief that marriage means something is being forcibly deinstitutionalized through the courts. When marriage means nothing, then of course gay people can "marry". In fact, there's no reason why I couldn't marry two women—or even marry my canary (to borrow a line from Greg Koukl)!

Maybe gay marriage per se doesn't have a negative effect on the utilitarian benefits of marriage, but deinstitutionalizing marriage sure might. And the way the courts are moving, it looks like we are going to find out.


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