Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Christians and War

How's this for logic. Bush is a Christian. Bush is a war monger. Ergo, Christians are all war mongers. That's true right?

Thankfully not! Though I am not a Christian, many people close to me are, including my own spawn (despite my constant atheistic proselytizing). In fact a very good friend of mine sent me this email (edited) about a sermon delivered in his West Houston Church last weekend.

Yesterday’s sermon at our church was about war. Our Reverend based his sermon on a book by one of the professors at the seminary he attended. The sermon described how early Christians usually weren’t in the Roman army because the Roman's were persecuting them. I guess they thought that Christians made better lion food than soldiers. However, in 312 AD the laws were changed to where it was not illegal to be Christian, and gradually more Christians enlisted in the military (for the bennies - GI bill etc.). He said Augustine (354-430 ad) and Ambrose (both later were named saints) had discussed war frequently and Augustine wrote down conditions under which war is justified. Augustine said there were five conditions: 1) War must be fought under constituted authority. 2) War must be fought only against the wrongdoers. 3) One must keep one’s word, even with the enemy. 4) War shall not be to seek revenge. 5) Must show mercy to defeated and captives.

In his book, our Reverend's professor idenified 6 different pre-conditions that Christians should make sure are met prior to resorting to war: 1) Justifiable cause. 2) Legitimate authority. 3) Last resort. 4) A declaration stating clear reason for war must be made. 5) War shall be waged proportional to the problem. 6) Must be a reasonable chance of success. Although our Minister did not give his opinion on whether the Iraq invasion and occupation met these tests, he talked about how sadly there always seems to be a human conflict or war somewhere on the planet, and about pacifism in the early church. He also talked about the need today for Christians to repent for wars, dialog with others, help those hurt by war, love thy neighbor and teach people how to love one another.

A timely sermon at XXXXX Church.

IMHO, in invading Iraq, the Bush camp broke at least 5 of the 6 rules described by the modern theologian, and at least 3 of the 5 stated by Augustine. But I guess W, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Cheney and others rationalize all this by thinking “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.”

Amen for Christians.


Sunday, June 27, 2004

Farenheit 9/11

Saw the movie today. Took my wife, two teenage kids and a friend. We went to the 2:10 showing in a west Houston theater in a very, very Republican part of town. There was a line to get in. Not a sellout but probably 80% of the seats (200 to 250?) were sold. Loud applause at the end. (I even saw the ending later in the day because I lost my wallet and had to go back and search under the seat - same applause).

My wife, who is much less political than me, was very emotionally moved - to the point of crying coming out of the movie and later at home.

Take everyone to see this movie - especially Republicans. If they can still vote for Bush after seeing this movie then something is really wrong with them.


Tom Friedman puts himself in timeout

Tom has decided to take a sabbatical. I guess if you are wrong 50 times in a row you need a mental health break to keep your sanity. However, in today's editorial he addresses some issues dear to my heart, and brings up some useful statistics. His piece is about "a few of the headlines I'd like to read while I'm gone."

One of the headlines he would like to see is the following:

President Bush Stuns Electorate — Does His Own Version of Nixon to China and Announces Joint Chinese-American Crash Program for Developing Alternative Energies.

Roughly 30,000 new cars merge onto the roads in Beijing every single month. Every day, the newspaper headlines in China are about energy shortages, blackouts and brownouts. U.S. officials estimate that 24 out of China's 31 provinces are now experiencing power shortages. China's foreign policy today consists of two things Taiwan and searching for oil. China's oil imports jumped last year alone by 30 percent. This is not a healthy situation.


Developmentally, China's growth is soon going to be restrained, if it isn't already, by a sheer shortage of energy. Strategically, China and America could soon find themselves in a dangerous head-to-head competition for fuel.

This follows on my earlier post. No reasonable forecasting firm, government, industry, or academic is forecasting that non-OPEC oil has any room for growth in terms of deliverable daily capacity. NONE! ZIP! NADA! The best that can be achieved is to stay flat for a number of years, then continuous decline. Not only that, but most of OPEC has little room for growth either. Believe me, I have looked up close and personal at a lot of West Africa Deep Water plays and they don't give you a warm and fuzzy feeling. Yeah, money can be made there, but we are not talking about millions of barrels a day of production above existing field declines.

Which leads us to Saudi Arabia. How much can they deliver as a steady long term rate. Ten million barrels per day? Twelve million? Fifteen million? No one knows, but there is a lot of talk in expert circles that it is probably closer to 10 than 15.

The point is that even if Saudi can do 15 that will not sate the world thirst for crude. The Chinese are now hooked. They want to mainline this shit just like the Americans. The Indians are trying hard to get hooked too. Demand growth is inexorable. Yes, price rises will mitigate this demand growth, but as you have seen throughout the 20th and early 21st century, people fight wars for this stuff. The more expensive it gets, the more likely people will fight for their fix.