People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Monday, July 04, 2005

United Church of Christ Becomes Inclusive

I must tell you, I'm having trouble understanding how so many of America's Christian denominations seem to be hell-bent on driving parishioners away in their efforts to become more inclusive. Mainstream American churches are becoming museums as a result of their memberships, en masse, migrating to other churches whose teachings are less "trendy" and more in line with the traditional teachings of Christ. Evangelical churches (check this out) and the Southern Baptists are seeing their membership roles swell as a result of their efforts to define their long-held beliefs and tenets in clear-cut terms and to broadcast their guidelines to their flocks so that the latter have a clear understanding of right and wrong. Good and evil. Sinful and righteous. What'll get ya into heaven and what'll send ya to the burning depths of hell.

To the growing list of mainstream churches that have decided to muddle the message and, as a result, exclude parishioners in order to give the appearance of inclusivity, you can add the United Church of Christ.
Church Panel OKs Gay-Marriage Resolution
By Charles Odum, Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA (AP) -- A committee of United Church of Christ representatives has approved a resolution that moves the church one step closer to becoming the largest Christian denomination to endorse same-sex marriage.

Still, members of the committee acknowledged Sunday that some congregations could leave the church entirely if the resolution is approved as written. (
You don't like it? Tough. If the United Church of Christ can get some homosexuals (statistics show that the gay community generally has vast amounts of disposable income and provides massive opportunity for a windfall to the church) to join their admittedly shrinking flock, they will be the better for it. Right? That's what their accounting consultants are arguing anyway.

Thus we have the marketing plan. "We're adamantly opposed to sin in all its forms. Except in the following acceptable circumstances ..."

As to the church's parishioners who take the Bible's teachings literally, well, they just need to get over it. And get on with it. Or get out.

The Mines are Reopening

Back in September, I wrote the following;
... I learned something yesterday. Red hats are hard to come by at the supply store. Local folk know what that means, though I'm sure none of you do. Part of the standard uniform worn by miners is the hard hat. Rookie miners, in training if you will, wear red colored hard hats to signify the fact that they are untrained and need to be looked after. And there has been a run on red hats of late. Why? Coal is selling again. The mines are hiring. I'm told that coal has sold recently for as much as $125 a ton. That may not sound like much to you but that's a whole lot better than the $25 the mine operaters
were getting a few years ago.

The reason that the red hats are in such short supply is because it has been a long, long time since any of the mines have brought in new workers. For many years the available work force has consisted of experienced miners that have been thrown out of work as a result of the closing of other mines. But most of them are gone now - or are dead. So new blood is being sent down into the mines. Times are about to be...better. (Red Hats Are in Short Supply, Sept. 11, 2004)
Obviously nobody at the Richmond Times-Dispatch caught that weblog entry because, if they had, they wouldn't have killed a forest full of trees just to print this:
King Coal

Resurgence in price has companies scrambling to find workers
BY Greg Edwards, Times-Dispatch staff writer

Mickey Carrico worked 15 years for a construction company in Kingsport, Tenn., before a chance meeting at a campground with a coal-company boss set him on a new career path.

Carrico, 37, is one of hundreds of newcomers to mining jobs in Southwest Virginia. A resurgence in the price and demand for coal, plus an aging work force, have sent coal companies scrambling to find new workers for jobs underground. (link)
This may be old news but it is welcome news as well to this area of the country that has been - since the beginning of time - economically depressed, a situation made even worse by the closing of most of the coal mines over the last few decades and by the loss of much of its manufacturing base. But this gives us some reason for optimism.

So, line up, boys. The mines are hiring. Happy days are here again.


If you've ever gotten to know a statistician, you've come to understand how important crap like this is to them:
Man Said to Recite Pi to 83,431 Digits

TOKYO (AP) -- A Japanese psychiatric counselor has recited pi to 83,431 decimal places from memory, breaking his own personal best of 54,000 digits and setting an unofficial world record, a media report said Saturday.

Akira Haraguchi, 59, had begun his attempt to recall the value of pi - a mathematical value that has an infinite number of decimal places - at a public hall in Chiba city, east of Tokyo, on Friday morning and appeared to give up by noon after only reaching 16,000 decimal places, the Tokyo Shimbun said on its Web site. (link)
I'll avoid making a crack about Akira's being a psychiatric counselor, and simply make note of the fact that any group of people who feel the need to define a number resulting from the division of another number by ... nothing*, is, by definition, statistically, weird.

* ... a division is called a division by zero if the divisor is zero. Such a division can be formally expressed as a/0 where a is the dividend.

Same Old Refrain

The Washington Post editorializes this morning that the law recently passed by the House of Representatives that is intended to block local (Washington DC) laws that had outlawed ownership of handguns - practically - and the use of any weapon - practically - to defend one's home will cause an increase in gun crime.

Guns Over Democracy

Morphing themselves into city council members, a House majority overturned a city law and voted to allow D.C. residents to keep in their homes loaded shotguns and rifles, as well as handguns bought before 1976, unbounded by trigger locks or disassembled. The deed itself makes a mockery of Congress as a federal body. If the action is allowed to stand, however, the consequences could be even worse: The nation's capital will become a deadlier place in which to live [my emphasis]. (link)

I read the other day that an American is at greater risk of being shot in Washington DC than he is on the streets of Baghdad, where everyone has a fully automatic weapon tucked under the prayer rug. To make matters worse, law-abiding citizens of Washington are essentially forbidden to arm themselves in their own homes (the local government "prohibits the possession of a handgun that was not registered with city police prior to Sept. 24, 1976 and re-registered by Feb. 5, 1977. It also requires the registration of all privately owned firearms and that firearms kept at home be rendered useless for protection by being 'unloaded, disassembled, or bound by a trigger lock or similar device.'") (link)

Perhaps it would be wise for the Post staff to take the time and bone up on the relevant statistics before they make fools of themselves. The following information is provided by the National Rifle Association, of which I am a proud member.
  1. D.C.`s homicide rate has soared since the city banned handguns in 1976. Homicide had been declining in D.C. before the ban, but increased after the ban was imposed. By 1991 D.C.`s homicide rate had risen more than 200%. By comparison, the U.S. homicide rate rose only 12% during the same period. D.C.`s homicide rate is more than double the rate when its handgun ban took effect. (FBI, Metropolitan Police of the District of Columbia)
  2. The District of Columbia is the only jurisdiction in the U.S. that prohibits keeping firearms in an operable condition at home, for defense against criminal attack. The right of people to be secure in their homes is an ages-old right affirmed in law and court decisions, but rejected in D.C.
  3. The District should not deny citizens the right to defend themselves when it cannot defend them. As legal scholars Robert J. Cottrol and Raymond T. Diamond have written, "[A] society with a dismal record of protecting a people has a dubious claim on the right to disarm them."
  4. Allowing citizens to defend themselves at home deters criminals. The U.S. Department of Justice has found that 40% of felons have decided to not commit one or more particular crimes for fear their potential victims were armed. (James D. Wright and Peter H. Rossi, Armed and Considered Dangerous: A Survey of Felons and Their Firearms, 1986, p. 155.)

The Washington Post has repeatedly decried the movement sweeping the nation whereby various states (38 and counting) have passed "Right-to-Carry" laws, in each case whining that the streets of America would flow with blood and that gun crime would increase. We at the NRA have argued that only law-abiding citizens would be issued permits to carry handguns (the "right to carry") and, therefore, the threat of an increase in crime resulting from passage of the Right-to-Carry laws is simply unsustainable and nothing more than a (feeble) scare tactic. We have been proven right in that, since states' began legalizing the issuance of carry permits, gun crime committed by permit-holding citizens is extremely rare.

But that won't keep the editorialists at the Post from whining. It's not the facts that matter, you see. It's the headline, "We're all going to die. Run for your life. The world as we know it is going to end!" Makes for better circulation.