Cfreaks Anti Blog

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wedge Issues: "Mosque" in Lower Manhattan

I should really stop reading facebook. I mean really. Most of my friends have such a totally opposite world-view to my own that every-time I look at it I just cringe that people actually believe some of the things they post. The absolute worst is politics and religion. I think I'll tackle my thoughts on facebook in another post and instead focus on something more specific.

I feel I must comment on the most cringe-worthy "issue" of all ... Dare I even mouth the words ... a "mosque" at the site of the former world trade center.

Now I have a rule on the anti-blog and that is to refrain from offering my own whiny, ranting, opinion on whatever topic. My goal is to make you think and then make up your own mind. However, this being the anti-blog, and MY anti-blog, I get to violate my own rules! :)

So without further ado: If you really don't have a problem with a mosque in any place, let alone in Lower Manhattan then you can stop reading here. You are welcome to continue of course, maybe to pass this along to a friend or something but what I will write from this point forward is not directed at you. Now if you are the opposite and you do have a problem with a mosque in any place at all then:


You are so blindingly, absolutely, painfully wrong it hurts me to even think that you actually believe that denying people the right to worship as they choose. It makes me absolutely sick. And no, I don't care if you're offended. You deserve to be offended. Your belief is wronger than wrong. It's the wrongest wrong that ever wronged. Your belief is rooted in nothing but cowardly fear. You've bought into the BS propaganda sold to you by pundits and politicians who want nothing but money and power. They are using you. They are making you afraid and turning that fear against you. They are wrapping up fascism in an American flag and calling it patriotism. You're stepping out on a slope slipperier than snot on an ice-sheet. What happens when it becomes politically expedient to deny rights to your race or your religion? If we've already denied rights to everyone else in the name of security, who will be left to speak out for you?

Oh and believe me, I've heard all the ridiculous arguments. Let's pick apart things I've heard from other wrong people:

Muslims are a political movement, bent on taking over the world! They've already taken over Europe, and they are coming here next!

Seriously? All Muslims believe the same thing? Come-on! We've been taught since childhood not to stereotype people. Grow-up and do a little research. Here I'll even help you, read those quotes by George Bush. (And quit getting your panties in a twist when Obama says the exact same thing. Unless of course you believe that George is a secret Muslim. Of course if you believe that go check into a mental institution.)

Islam is just like Christianity in that it has major and minor divisions. The main two are Sunni and Shi'ite, it's a little complex to get into the differences here but basically after the prophet Muhammad died the Sunni group followed Muhammad's religious successors (the caliphs) and the Shi'ite group followed his blood offspring (Imams). This article does a better job with an explanation. Within the two major groups there are several other divisions. Some of them are conservative, some of them are liberal. Most of them are just made up of people trying to live their lives.

Fundamentalism is bad whether it's Islamic, Christian, or atheistic. And usually it's rooted in dissatisfaction, not religion. Islamic law is not freedom, but it doesn't say to go blow yourself up for the cause either.

As for "Europe being taken over by Muslims" ... there's no doubt that there is a cultural struggle going on in some European counties, mainly France and some Spain (though in Spain it's less about Islam and more about the Basque people, proving that terrorism is typically about dissatisfaction rather than religion. But I said that already). This cultural struggle is about immigrants trying to find an identity and a job in counties that really don't welcome them. America is very integrated. France is not and it causes problems. However, there is no law that states women must wear burqas in public (quite the opposite, they were trying to pass a law saying women couldn't wear them in school). I don't think any such laws are coming to France anytime soon. France may have it's problems but they believe in the rule of law just like we do. France may have families where women are forced by husbands or fathers to wear burqas, it's sad but it's far from Europe being overrun by Muslims.

Such sad things happen in the US too ... which leads me to the final part of this idea, which is Muslims coming here: they already are. There are lots of muslims in the US. Are there attacks and suicide bombings happening? And before you reply that "the government must have thwarted them all!" ... again ... really? Occam's razor. Some guy drove a pick-up through a gate at Love Field (Dallas Airport) today in a police chase. You're saying someone determined couldn't easily blow something up? The FBI and CIA are not made up of armies of Jack Baurers and Jason Bournes. If you believe they, stop watching TV and go outside more.

Not only that but there were Muslims in the World Trade Center, who died when it fell. There are Muslims in the armed forces, many who have died in service to the country. You and your wrong belief dishonor the memories of brave Americans by seeking to remove their rights after they died in service to YOU. Screw that, you dishonor all veterans by trying to deny rights to anyone.

But, but, but, ... some poll said that 68% of people don't want the Mosque there!!! Or people have a right to vote to decide if it can go there!

Yeah and 37.2% of statistics are made up on the spot. Seriously people, do I have to bring you another lesson straight from kindergarden?? What's right isn't always popular and what's popular isn't always (and I'd say rarely) right. It's so cliche yet it's so true.

MOST people in the 60's didn't support the Civil Rights act, and thought separation of races was ok.
MOST people in the 40's thought it was okay to lock up innocent American citizens who happened to be of Japanese decent.
MOST people in the 20's didn't support women's suffrage (that's the right to vote for those of you who don't know what that word means)
MOST people throughout the 1800s (and even early 1900s) thought that taking native American land was A-OK and many thought it was okay to kill them as well.
MOST people through the first half of the 1800s thought that slavery was OK.

Can you really make any kind of argument that any of those examples are something we should be proud of and agree with? Denying religious freedom to anyone, is exactly the SAME thing as every single one of these.

Muslims can have a Mosque [in lower Manhatten] as soon as Saudi Arabia allows women to have equal rights

Newt Gingrich said something along these lines and I've heard others repeat it. It's the sickest statement of them all. Instead of bettering America, we should lower ourselves to the level of the people you just claimed are our enemy! The logic escapes me. What happened to American exceptionalism? What happened to us being a beacon of freedom and an example to the rest of the world? Have we truly decided that freedom of speech and religion is only reserved for people who look like us and think like us?

I can't keep going. The ridiculousness of that last statement fills me with incredible sadness. That anyone would say that makes me fear that America has already started down the slope and we may be going too fast to stop it. It isn't bad economies, or muslims that are causing our downfall ... it's our quickness to give into fear, to trade freedom for temporary security, to allow our politicians to perform dog and pony shows while we bury our heads in the sand and focus on the stupidest issues and ignore the real ones.

I write wedge issues to try to point this out, but I'm fighting a losing battle. The issues become more and more trivial each day, and the real issues that are rotting America from within continue unabated.

There are a couple of other things I'd like to share. Not that it matters since my insulting remarks have probably made you move on to some other page where people just as wrong as you continue to froth at the mouth at the sheer audacity of the evil brown muslims that would dare defile our sacred memory.

1. What's being built near the site of World Trade Center is not a Mosque, it's a community center that has a prayer room. Does one call the YMCA a church?

2. It is "near" the site, it is not ON the site. It is nearly 3 blocks away.

View Larger Map

2b. Here's a great article that drives the point home.

3. There is already a mosque about the same distance from the WTC site. It's been there for years. Why isn't anyone calling for it's destruction? Could it be that no one even knew about it? That it's not bothering anyone? Maybe Sarah Palin didn't see it.

Finally I want to note I do not use the words "ground zero" or "9-11". September 11, 2001 was a terrible day and many people were deeply affected by it. But the reality is that most of us were not affected personally. I don't use the date's buzzwords nine years later because it's propaganda pure and simple. "Ground zero" especially is used as some kind of rallying cry for political movements. It could happen again! Vote for us!

At the end of the day we need to collectively move on. And truly if we aren't moving on then why aren't we angry that the WTC site is still basically a big hole in the ground? Why aren't we angry at our government for the last nine years being busy with a war against a third party and not capturing or bringing those who are truly responsible for the attacks to justice? Why aren't we angry that political movements continue to play a tragic event to our fears and using it to continually erode our freedom. We're plenty angry in this country but we're angry about all the wrong things. These things are what desecrate the memories of the victims, more-so than any mosque or Islamic community center ever could.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Wedge Issues: On God and Country

July 4th falling on a Sunday this year presented a unique opportunity for Christian groups to spotlight the idea of the USA as a Christian nation. My own church had a sermon titled: "Is America still a Christian nation?" In fairness I can't speak to it directly because I was not in attendance this Sunday, however I would like to discuss how religion should or shouldn't play a role in our country and society.

I think the debate I've been hearing is a little be short sighted. The questions are usually "Are we a Christian nation?", or "Were we a Christian nation?". We should be asking "What does it mean to be a Christian nation?" and "Should we be a Christian nation?"

Were/Are we a Christian Nation?

There was a large group of people that played a role in the foundations of our country. Some of them were Christians in the traditional sense but many of the more well known ones were Deists. In a nutshell Deists believe in God but they do not believe he intervenes in human affairs. Arguably I think someone could claim to be a Christian and be a deist as well. The point I make is people didn't really have the same beliefs at that time as they do now. Not only that but the founders were individuals. It's silly to say "this is what the founders believed ... " because as a group they did not all believe the same thing. No one understands everything the founders intended and I think before anyone can truly form an opinion, one has to do more study than a quick Internet search.

What does it mean to be a "Christian nation"?

Now I will go on the record to say that there is overwhelming evidence the founders intended the US government to be secular. I believe they also intended that people be able to believe and worship (or not) as they choose. Morality is definitely an underpinning in our founding but one look at Buddhism will tell you that Christians don't have a monopoly on that. The idea of democracy and the rule of law come from classical Greek and Roman times. So I think we can definitively say the government is not "Christian".

Now I think it could be argued that the US started out as a "Christian nation" in the sense that most people were Christians at the time of the founding, that's technically true even now. But obviously tons of people who say they are Christian are so in name only, and that was almost certainly true 234 years ago as well. So I don't think we can say the people make it Christian anymore than it can be called a nation of dog owners. Nearly 40% of us own a dogs. (which is the same as the percentage of people who attend church weekly!). But to call it a dog-nation would probably draw a bit of protest from the slightly smaller but still large group of people who own cats.

I think the biggest problem with saying it's a Christian nation is that it just isn't clearly defined what that means. The thing that scares me is there are some people who seem to believe we should become a theocracy. Do we really want to become the middle-east? Theocracy hasn't worked out so well there.

Should we be a "Christian nation"?

So should we be a "Christian nation"? I think this is where we need to look at what Jesus had to say about it:

Matthew 22:15-21 is where Jesus tells the Pharisees to "give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's". While the discussion is about taxes specifically I think Jesus is pretty clear that our allegiance is to God not to any man-made institution.

Mark 13: The disciples are amazed at the massive temple buildings. Jesus explains that it will pass away. Jesus goes on to say that there will be wars and rumors of wars, natural disasters and other turmoil but that they should stay focused on God.

Luke 4:5-8 is where Satan is tempting Jesus by offering him power of the nations. This passage is very interesting because it states that God has given Satan power over the earthly nations and he had that power to give it to Jesus. Jesus himself does not accept this offer, he stays focused on God's plan.

John 18:36 Jesus states that his Kingdom is not on earth.

Throughout the gospels Jesus talks about the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is not an earthly kingdom.

Secondly Jesus never talked about loving only certain people. There are TONS of examples but my favorite is the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. The Samaritans were the lowest of the low in Jewish society and yet Jesus showed how even they could love and be loved. The idea is the love of God transcends nation, tribe or race.

Christianity as a religion is about churches and corporate worship but what sets Christianity apart is it's description of an individual's relationship to God. Paul says it very well in Philippians 2:12 "work out your salvation with fear and trembling". Our individual relationship to God is what truly matters. If we are worried about being a Christian nation; we are trying to work out other people's salvation for them - which is in essence "helping God".

I've said it before but I want to be clear: we cannot help God. God does not need us to accomplish his plan. God includes us because he loves us but trying to save people We can be used by God to tell others about him but God is the one who ultimately leads people to Christ. Being a "Christian nation" says to a non-believer that we will convert people by force.

Another thing the term "Christian nation" suggests is that we will defend God's name. God doesn't need us to defend his name. He is all powerful, he can defend his own name. In the end every knee will bow and every tongue will confess. God isn't smiting people, he's giving them time to turn to him. We should not be threatening people in the defense of God's name.

I'm not talking just about physical force either. Becoming political, trying to pass laws that make Christians more equal than others are just as bad as using military force outside our borders.

Finally being a "Christian nation" suggests that we believe we are justified in our actions. Unfortunately we and our leaders are human. The best leaders are ones who admit their mistakes and learn from them. The worst leaders are ones who pick a direction and justify it with an ideology to the exclusion of all critics.

No we should not call ourselves Christian nation. We should be Christians. Once we love everyone equally regardless of where they come from, regardless of who they are or what sins they have committed; THEN we can call ourselves a Christian nation. Of course if we truly follow Jesus's example then the concept of a nation is meaningless anyway.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Life, Anti-Blogs and New Projects

A post you say! A post!

Yes it's been a long while since I've written anything. I won't apologize as this is the anti-blog after all!

There are a lot of reasons for my extended absence. Job, family, stuff seems to get in the way. I have a lot going on in my life.

Just a brief catch-up on a few of the things I was doing:
1. Run for Governor. Well time got in the way of that too. Write me in. Unfortunately a grass-roots organization never materialized. And I just don't have the resources to take off from work to go door to door and request a 40,000+ signatures :). Write me in!

2. Wedge Issues. These will return in due time. Plenty to talk about.

3. Free Iran! Still very interested in what is going on there. Unfortunately there's just not as much news coming out. Please continue to pray for the people of that country.

4. Trains. Still being worked on. New pictures coming as soon as I get the next major pieces built.

As for things I'm up to right now:

The biggest is a ministry project known as I AM's Actors. We go places and perform Christian plays. We went several places last summer and we're gearing up to do stuff this summer. We're looking for actors or actresses who would like to join our group. We're also looking for venues this summer. Check out our site or just contact me about either opportunity.

Still doing some business on the side, though not near as much. Spending time with the family and friends when I'm not working.

Seriously though. Check out I AM's Actors. Hopefully I'll find some more time for this soon.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Hopefully most of you have heard about the ongoing unrest in that country. I encourage everyone to pray for the people there. May they have freedom and peace!

Unfortunately it has not so far been the case. The main stream news media has been pretty far behind on the action. I'm posting a list of links here for anyone who wants to follow the action or if you want to help (yes there are ways)

I've followed some on Twitter though its been difficult, there's so much to parse through. If you know nothing about Iran the best place to start is at Tatsuma's Iran Update page. Tatsuma is a user of who has done a great job of trying to consolidate information in one place. He provides a summary of what's happened as well as some insight into the major players involved. is a great place to find out what's going on as well. Fark is a news aggregation site with a community. At the time of this writing there were 34 discussion threads on the situation with over 60,000 comments. Its a little hard to follow but its easier than Twitter :)

As far as helping here. The Iranian government has been trying to censor communication out of the country (one of the reasons that the MSM is so far behind). We can help by setting up proxies. Check out Austin Heap's blog for how to create your proxy and then email him (instructions on the linked page) to let him know its there.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

43,991 is the magic number

Wikipedia was nice and consolidate the requirements for us. To run for governor I need 43,991 signatures ... of people that are registered to vote but did not vote in either of the major party's primaries.

Technically I can run with 5000 signatures and $3750. So I guess if someone wants to donate to the cause we could work toward both goals :-D

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I'm still here and I'm running for Governor of Texas

Yes really.

(you are now thinking: what the heck! There's no way he can win)

Well of course not, but that's not the point. The point is that I'm bored and I need to do something offbeat and wacky.

As I posted to the official Chris Brown for governor facebook group there are several goals for my campaign:

Step 1: getting on the ballot.

Not 100% certain of the process yet but I know it involves filing some paperwork and making then either getting a few thousand signatures or paying a fairly hefty filing fee. We'll be exploring ways to come up with needed funding if there is a fee or a game plan for signatures. The good news is we've got a year before we can even file.

Step 2: get on a major market or national newscast and say something wacky. (Maybe this should be the ultimate goal)

Step 3: Get at least 20,000 thousand votes. That's a bit arbitrary though ... I guess I could set a loftier goal of 1% (which I think would be something like 80 - 90k depending on voter turnout)

(now you're thinking: okay that makes sense but what would you stand for?)

Good question. Smaller government and lower taxes as a result. Fewer stupid laws, more common sense. Of course that's what the Anti-Blog stands for anyway. So if you want specifics read the whole deal.

I'll probably setup an official site later on with better categorization.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Welcome Facebook people

The Anti-Blog is now simulcast to my friends on Facebook. Read it here or read it there.

On deadline today but look for new Anti-blog posts Real Soon Now

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Hey mister can you give me some change?

So now we've had the two major party conventions and we're gearing up for the final show-down. I honestly didn't want to talk about politics other than direct discussion of issues. However this wouldn't be a blog without the author's whiny opinion so I'll give mine. ("But Chris" you say, "this is the anti-blog" ... okay fine, I'll try to limit the whining).

Now I know that the president doesn't really have as much power as people believe he does. However for better or worse president Bush has definitely given the office much more power than it used to have and so I think we should be careful who we put there. And by "careful" I mean sincerely voting on the issues you find important. Not because someone has an R or a D after their name. This "my team" before my country business has got to stop. Seriously people ... think for yourselves. If you want to pray to God and ask him who to vote for ... do it .. .but don't vote a certain way because that's what your pastor wants. Don't vote a certain way because that's what your grandma, or your spouse ... or your dog wants. Don't vote how your employer wants you to vote. Heck don't vote how I want you to vote. Your vote is yours, don't throw it away because some politician says that if you don't vote for their team that the terrorists will win or the economy will crash and everyone will be out of work. Don't throw it away for a union, a church, a company, a blog (or an anti-blog) or apathy. Seriously, suck it up, vote and do it because its who you truly believe is the best person for the job.

Now to do that. You have to be informed. So here is your Anti-Blog report on the candidates:

Barack Obama

Democratic nominee. Has a funny name. No he's not a Muslim and anyone who says otherwise is trying to get you to throw your vote away. Obama is somewhat removed from Washington politics but he's smack in the middle of Chicago politics so its questionable if that's much better. Obama is charasmatic and he's a good speaker. He's certainly got the younger crowd.

The Good: he's a good speaker. He can energize people. He wants to get the US off foreign oil and he seems to have some pretty good ideas on how to do that (in my opinion of course). He is going to cut taxes for most people and small businesses.

The bad: he was against domestic drilling and now he's for it. He hasn't said much about corn subsidies which are driving up food prices. He doesn't have much national experience. He's for a windfall profits tax on oil companies. (bad because it will drive prices up).

Joe Biden

Dem VP pick. He's been in Washington for more than 30 years. His first wife and daughter were killed in an accident just before he took his Senate seat. He commutes home everyday. His son is the attorney general in New Hampshire and is also a Captain in the US Army who will deploy to Iraq in October.

The Good: He's got a lot of foreign policy experience. He can also relate to McCain's generation and help the ticket in swing states. He's a family guy. He's been known to stand up to special interests.

The Bad: He might still be too much of an insider. He's been known to say some racially divisive things about Obama himself. He's from the North East which might now play well in the South.

John McCain

McCain is the GOP nominee. He was in the Airforce in Vietnam and was shot-down and held as a POW for 5-years. He's from Arizona and has been in the senate for a number of years.

The Good: Known as a maverick who has gone against his party on several issues. He's for stem-cell research and has been against drilling in ANWR. He wants to reduce earmarks in laws. He also was a co-sponser of campaign finance reform. He's also known as someone who works across party lines.

The Bad: Supports the Iraq war (okay you can claim that's good, whatever). Often confuses Sunni and Shiite arabs. Was involved in the savings and loan scandel in the late 80s. Has voted for Bush's policies about 95% of the time. Apparently is now for drilling. Doesn't have a comprehensive plan for getting away from oil.

Sarah Palin

And finally we have Palin. Look I know that politicians "stretch the truth" about their records, about what they've accomplished, etc. However most of them do not outright lie. Seriously, go google "Sarah Palin fact check". Palin is the governor of Alaska. Before that was the mayor of a small town. Apparently McCain is giving up the experience angle.

The Good: ... she's kind of hot ... um and that's about it.

The Bad: Lots. Believes creationism should be taught in school. Against all abortion even when the woman's life is in danger. Several scandels (google). But beyond that something that the media has completely overlooked. The names of her children: Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper and Trig ... so let me get this straight: we have a sport, a city (well I should assume a bay as Bristol Bay is in Alaska), a tree, an airplane, and a type of math. Seriously the only thing that could be worse is if she used "y".

And she's a self proclaimed hokey mom. Okay people. In the circles of hell hokey mom is a step below soccor mom. Do you really want the crazy woman who cuts you off in traffic with her SUV (cell in one hand and lipstick in the other) to be a step away from being the most powerful person on earth???

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Your grandmother will never learn linux and other absurdities

Operating systems are much like religion. Everyone believes they have the right one and no one is willing to even listen to the other side's argument.

Now before I begin I must acknowledge that I'm a multi OS guy. I run Ubuntu Linux on my desktop. Windows XP on my laptop, my wife's desktop also runs XP and she recently aquired a MacBook through her new school. All the servers for Fundi run CentOS (Linux). I prefer CentOS over all of them though Ubuntu is kind of nice for just getting everything going easily.

That said I don't care if people use or even if they like windows. I recommend what I think is the most useful and less fuss. I also don't play a lot of games other than on my Wii so I can completely understand people wanting to use Windows from that standpoint.

However one thing I often here is "Your grandmother (or mom, or sister or other random family member) will never learn Linux". Right ... well let me give you this: Your grandmother can't use windows either.

Seriously, for those of us geeky in nature: how often do our family members ask us for help because their computer crashes, is slow, they can't figure out how to use their web-cam or whatever? How often has granny called you up because she can't figure out how to send an email? How often has dad called because he can't figure out how to connect his new laptop to his wireless network? How many times have you gone home and find that the computer is completely infested with all manner of spy-ware, viruses and general trash?

If you want to talk about the virtues of windows come up with a better reason than "Granny can do it". Because very few grannies can. Nor will they ever be able to.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

This boys and girls is why you don't put a config file full of passwords into a web accessable directory

OMG!! An actual POST. (more on that later)

So I'm playing with StumbleUpon earlier and I hit the button and suddenly a strange page. Full of code. To my surprise its actually their code ... more specifically it seems to be a configuration file for databases, and network topology and it includes the passwords.

(and to answer everyone's question: I didn't use the information for evil, nor is the information available to anyone for evil or otherwise. As much as I wanted to keep it for posterity, I deleted it. No chance of someone using my computer and finding it, or my own temptations getting the better of me).

A combination of PHP, inexperienced developers as well as the rise of cheap shared hosting have made this a wide-spread problem, not just for StumbleUpon. One thing I really like about Perl is the "use strict" pragma, which forces you to say "my included file is right here in this directory" ... otherwise it looks only in a specified path.

PHP includes files in a specified path as well, but it includes "." at the beginning by default. If your app relies on a file being in the include path and someone managed to put a file with the same name in the same directory as the script, they can effectively run whatever code they want. The second problem is what happened today. If someone forgets or corrupts the <?php tag then the server happily outputs the code for you.

Many people don't realize they can put files in a folder other than the web accessable folder and it still be accessable with PHP. Though there are some hosts that don't allow you to access these folders (usually the web accessable folder is public_html, html, or www ... most people have hosts that allow access to the parent directory when you log-in)

If your host only allows access to the web enabled folder:
If your shared host only allows you to save to the web accessable folder. The best advice I can give is "change hosts". I own one, and I don't do that to you ;-)

Barring that you can create a file in the folder and call it .htaccess (note the leading "."). In this file put the following lines:

LocationMatch .*config\.php.*>
Order Deny, Allow
Deny from all

(change config.php to whatever your config file is called)
Now some hosts won't let you have directives like this in .htaccess, you can put some code in the top of the config file to check for unauthorized access but that won't save you from mistyping the <php tag. Really the best option is to avoid these hosts.

Moving configs to a non-accessable directory

The web server looks in a particular directory (usually "public_html", "html" or "www") for files to serve up to a browser. Any files outside that directory cannot be accessed. By far the safest option is to always put your configuration files, ESPECIALLY ones containing passwords, outside the directories the web server can see. PHP on the other hand can see files anywhere on the server's filesystem as long as it has permission to do so. Some things you can do, or not do to make this as secure as possible:

Don't rely on the include path unless you set it yourself with "set_include_path()"
Don't use ".." to access the parent directory. Use the full path, or set the full path. If you aren't certain what your full path should be create a small php file with the following (put it in your main web directory:

print getcwd();

When you run it in your browser you should get something like /home/foo/public_html ... ("foo" is usually your username, and public_html is usually the web-folder). The part before the name of your web folder is the absolute path for your files on the system. So if you have:

include "/home/foo/config.php";

That includes a file called "config.php" that is in the parent folder of your web site and is not web accessable.

Make sure the file is not writable by anyone other than yourself. (in FTP or if you have shell access you can do:
chmod 644 config.php in the directory its located in)

And really this should go for any included files that you'd rather not have the code show up. Put your code in modules and call it. If code in the main directory gets exposed its much better to just show the file your including rather than actual code that could possibly be used to exploit your server with.

Getting existing apps to work after moving their config files

Since many people use open source apps, and lots of open source apps keep these files in web directories its a good idea to modify them to look for their files elsewhere. Most of them have a file that everything else accesses (such as config.php or init.php or something similar). Sometimes they will have multiple config files that point back to the common one in the main folder. This is still acceptable. Sometimes the file resides in another folder such as includes/ ... if this is the case you will probably need to move the entire folder (either that or you'll have to modify the code itself to point to the new location).

I recommending putting everything you move into its own folder. For instance say your host has you setup in /home/foo . Your web directory is "public_html" and your app has a folder called "includes" currently in "public_html"
Inside the includes folder is a file called "config.php" every other script in the app accesses this file.

create a folder called "myapp" and put it in /home/foo (mkdir myapp)
move the app's includes folder into your new folder and out of public_html

So in the end you'd have:

Back in the public_html create a new folder called "includes" and create a new file also named "config.php" and put it in it.

In this config.php put the following code:

$path = explode(":", get_include_path() );
$keyed_path = array_flip($path);
$path = implode(":", array_keys($keyed_path) );

set_include_path( "/home/foo:$path" );

You'll need to make sure the app doesn't set the path in its initial config for this to work. If the app doesn't work, check that it doesn't use parent directories ".." in paths (its okay for the config file call but subsequent calls will break in this scenerio)

Questions and comments welcome!

Update BTW Blogger is horrible at not encoding entities such as < and ate much of my original post. I'll do a rant on that soon :)

update 2 fixed more code that blogger ate that I didn't notice

update 3 All code contained in this post is public domain. I make no guarantees that it will work or that it won't blow your app up. I cannot be responsible for its use.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

AntiBlog Update

A note on the lack of updates. I was on vacation for a week at the beginning of the month. I had a wonderful time in Colorado with the trees and the mountains and fishing ... and no Interwebs. Somehow I survived! :) Check out our gallery for pictures!

Anyway I've been trying to do better about getting more updates in. I have a goal of one a week. Maybe someday I'll get there. :)

On that note though I've thought about making some changes. Possibly submission of stories and commentary from other people, maybe moving the blog to one my own servers. Blogger is okay but its a bit limited.

Of course if anyone is interested in writing feel free to contact me about it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God

And for good measure, here's the whole passage:

17 Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”
18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? 19 Show Me the tax money.”
So they brought Him a denarius.
20 And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”
21 They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”
And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Okay so I admit this is in regards to taxes ... but I believe the meaning is deeper. Certainly all good Baptist churches throughout time have used this verse for why we should follow the "laws of the land". I've heard it applied to even traffic laws ... by doing so we set an example more like Christ. I believe the meaning though is deeper than that: That Christ wants us to stop focusing on petty things and focus on Godly things. Politics is petty. Salvation is not.

Imagine my horror then when I read this: Pastors Use Pulpit to Challenge Election Law

A summary: Gus Booth a pastor at Warroad Community Church in Minnesota wants us to vote Republican. Quote: "If you are a Christian, you cannot support a candidate like Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton for president"

Now Gus says he's trying to challenge a law that seeks to tax churches if they engage in campaigning. Gus says his free speech is violated, but its not. The law doesn't prevent Gus from speaking his mind. It says that his corporation (the church) is no longer a place to talk to God, its a place to stump for a candidate.

Gus is violating a higher law. He's violating God's law against becoming of the world, he's focused on power instead of on salvation and like most Christians in our day and age, he's forgotten his first love.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Just a quick note to go back to my baby name rant

I came across this article today. Seriously people! What's wrong with you? Naming your kid after the made-up name of some stupid celebrity!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Wedge Issues: Sex, or how I learned to stop worrying about how much everyone else was getting

So one blog post a month is enough ... right? Or not, I suck at blogging. It *is* the anti-blog after-all though so in the end you shouldn't expect anything from me! :)

In all honesty I've been very busy yet again. We made a couple of trips this past month. A quick trip to San Francisco for a friend's wedding and then to Abilene TX for an alumni board meeting at HSU that Jen and I are a part of. In addition I've been working as a consultant on several projects and Adam and I also wrapped up our latest interactive game Conspiracy Asylum

If you're interested there are pics of our SF trip on our personal site. You'll also find pics of the trains there as well.

But enough personal stuff. I haven't discussed a real wedge issue in a long time. Sad because there are so many flying around in this political season!

So tonight we're talking about sex. That scary little three-letter word that makes mothers hold their children close and Christians wag their fingers in stern disapproval.

One thing that drives me crazy about older generations (my pastor, and my father often speak this way) is the longing for the "good old days". The days when the world was less scary and people didn't have to worry about walking down their street. Honestly there's a whole other rant in there ... It seems people believe that there was very little sexual immorality. The reality isn't that it didn't happen, its that no one talked about it. Of course all this nostalgia doesn't really give any solution to the problem, other than "we need God to change people" where we can return to this golden time, etc.

The first problem is to determine whether we have a problem at all. When we look at the Bible, it says quite a few things about sex but its not crystal clear on some of the black and white truths that conservative Christians hold so dear.

Sex outside of marriage. Probably the biggest no-no in these circles. The Bible does not say "Thou shalt not have sex outside of marriage" ... instead it says "Thou shalt not commit adultery" which is defined as a married person having sex with someone other than his or her spouse. Christians seem to have gotten a bit creative with the definition. In Genesis God states that a man should leave his parents and be joined to a woman and in the New Testament, Paul in several places talks of fleeing from sexual immorality. So there's two camps here. One idea I've heard is that pre-marital sex is bad because God has chosen a spouse for you so its the same as adultery even if you don't know that person yet. The other idea I've heard is that any sex outside of marriage is considered immoral because God created marriage in the beginning and therefore that was how he intended it to be used. The Song of Solomon has some passages that refer to not partaking in love until its ready .. but its hard to tell if that's refering to sex, fruit or an underage woman (okay I'm joking, sort of)

And none of that gets into the multitude of rightous people in the Bible who have multiple wives, concubines, etc.

Now before I go any further, don't misunderstand: I truly believe that sex creates a very deep bond between two people that's probably both emotional and spiritual. That should be cherished and I think the bond is deeper when people can truly commit to one person. What I am saying though is that the idea that its all bad isn't exactly clear cut, and it gets into the question: is it a sin or does it merely fall into the category of something that isn't beneficial but still permissible? I'll leave that to you, reader, to answer that question.

So now from a culture context, why is sex so prevalent? I think its generally because we made it a taboo. We love to talk about it, we love to find out who's doing it and who they're doing it with (just pick up a celebrity gossip rag). At the same time we love to be prudish about it. I think we secretly wish we could be the promiscuous person without the associated guilt. (I speak as a man in that regard), and then we hate ourselves for having such thoughts!

Making sex a taboo creates a lot of subtle problems. Let's start with teenagers. Notorious for being the people that push the big red button that says "Don't Push". Sex is a perfect example of that. Especially in Christian circles they are told "don't" ... but they are never given much reason why, and they are certainly not given any alternatives on how to at least do it safely. This leads to a higher instance of pregnancy and STDs among teens who are a part of abstinence only programs.

Since people aren't having these conversations, the kids feed of the media machine. If we aren't telling our kids the truth about sex, who is? The media! They buy into that stuff, they believe what they see in the movies, or in the porn they find on the Internet. They make it because people buy it. The solution is not to outlaw it. The solution is to communicate the truth so that there's less market for it!

Then you have people who are a bit unstable anyway. Call it "mommy issues" (or daddy issues). We're told to go against our natural desires, some people internalize this and then it comes flooding out in often a violent fashion. I think if there was more communication about this problems in society instances of rape and other sexual abuse would drop.

And finally because you have these high-profile cases of abuse you also have this irrational paranoia of sex offenders and pedophiles living on every corner. This leads to its own problems, including men who won't deal with children at all since being accused of pedophilia can destroy someone, no matter if they are innocent or guilty.

So my advice is stop feeding the machine. Keep your private life private. If you have kids teach them the truth about sex and stop worrying about what other people are doing. Set the example as a Christian. If Timmy sees a naked breast, remember he saw them as a baby and it probably won't hurt him ... anymore than seeing the violence that saturates the media as well. That is a rant for a different day.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The new Happy Blog site

Blogging is great. I'm going to tell you about my whole day. I can't get enough of blogging. Blogging is so much fun! Check back here for lots of great blog updates!!!

/ happy April 1st everyone
// its also my birthday (really!)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

GeekOut! Time for trains

I don't often talk about stuff I do in real life ... that is the things I do away from the computer. Other than sinking money into my computer stuff and my business, I sink money into my N-scale model railroad.

Way back when I was in elementary school my dad build me a small HO set on a table. That was great and I played with it a lot but didn't really know much about actually building the things. We had some of that 70s era green turf stuff for "grass" and some track and a station.

Later on, after coming back from Africa I got involved with some serious model railroaders and I immediately wanted to learn how they did stuff. We moved again so I didn't get much experience (and I was still a kid) but I picked up a few things and throughout high-school I was determined to build a kick-butt layout.

But things never really moved much past the planning stage. I had a table set up but it was outdoors on our back-porch. It was covered but just the moisture in the air and the heat of summer and the cold of winter made it somewhat un-desirable. Upon going to college I abandoned the ambition.

After Jen and I got married I was going through some stuff my parents dropped off at our house and found a couple of N-scale pieces. I had bought them for my dad at one point or another and he didn't have the time to mess with it, so it had sat in a box for 4 or 5 years. I immediately took them out and set them up. The small size fit well in the small house!

That sparked a frenzy. I tried to expand the set, buying cheap train-stuff when I could find it. I really never got that far because I simply didn't have the space. Adam saw the terrain and thought he could have fun with it too. For awhile he started building his own but discovered that he didn't have space either.

We moved 3 more times, finally settling here, in our own house with a "play-room" (home builder speak for "useless 10x10 area where your bratty kids are supposed to throw their toys"). This "room" (its not really) basically perfect for the task of a decent sized layout.

I'm the track guy and Adam is the terrain guy. I must admit we really didn't know that much even when we started the current layout almost 2 years ago now. We got a part done and discovered that our grades were too steep and the trains couldn't climb them (oops) .. I also left a pile of ballist (little rocks) sitting on the tracks. Later I was testing Adam's Kato 2-8-0 Mikado. Little tiny gears and ballist don't mix well. (its still being repaired)

Anyway we decided we needed more space so we rebuilt the tables into modules and have taken over the whole room. The trains run on the outside edge, we have an average of 2ft width though one of the original tables was 3x5 so we just left it that way.

Our time-period is early 50s and Adam wanted to do a Southwest theme which means Santa Fe. I know pretty much everyone does Santa Fe in the 50s but at the very least its easy to find stuff to go with it! It also made sense given the engines we currently own. Adam's Mikado (letter Santa Fe already) is a little out of date but there was still some steam around. I also have a Kato ALCO RS-2. Its currently painted for Chicago and Western. I'm planning to repaint it with Santa Fe's black and white "zebra" scheme. I found out that they owned exactly one RS-2 back in the day and I know its number .. so at least I'm historically accurate in that regard :)

I also bought an F9-A with the classic red and silver war-bonnet colors and 5 passenger cars. The engine is Kato as well. The passenger cars are Con-Cor. They are okay but their couplers absolutely suck. I really wanted the Kato passenger cars but I was unable to find Santa-Fe at the time and I didn't feel like painting/re-lettering. So now I'll replace couplers instead!

Other rolling-stock is mostly Atlas with some Bachman. I really like the Atlas couplers. I've replaced the trucks on all the Backman's with Atlas. The only thing with the Atlas is they don't have a magnetic option. I'm debating if I want to go the Micro-Trains route and replace everything with full magnetic... the problem is they are expensive! The Atlas are cheaper so its kind of a catch 22. Atlas is better and cheaper now but I know I'd probably like the Micro-Trains magnetic stuff and it's absolutely awesome ... ah choices.

BTW if you get into this stuff, don't buy Bachman (or LifeLike or Model Power). You will be sad. The Atlas stuff isn't that much more money and its much better quality. Basically don't buy train-stuff at the big-box hobby stores. Except maybe buildings and terrain ... but be prepared to paint the buildings.

For track we've settled on Atlas Code 80. Most of it is flex-track but I have some sectional as well. I have a bunch of section curves and 9 1/2" and 11" radius that I really don't know what I'm going to do with now. On the new layout all the curves are 18" or higher to accommodate the long passenger cars. The turnouts are also code 80. Yeah they have plastic frogs but they work reasonably well and I can't spend $80 a piece for the track and the Tortoise electric switcher and all that stuff. Right now most of them are manual, which is fine, we can reach everything easily. Although Atlas is making an under table switch machine now. I picked one up for $7.00 the other day, I'm going to try it out. Since we don't have too many I don't see that as being too bad. Probably just electric for the mains for now.

As for power, right now I have the one main hooked up to a MRC Tech 4, though I have everything I need now for Digitrax DCC. I'm going to finish the other main and then wire that up. I've done under-table wiring as is recommended when doing DCC. Its really great actually I recommend that for even a straight DC setup, I'm finding it makes the control much more reliable.

Adam is doing a great job on terrain. He made this freaking awesome canyon which we will be building a bridge over. The canyon is hand-made, its 18 inches deep. Truly grand :). He's also been working on buttes for our desert area.

While we don't have a whole lot of total space, we're trying to make "scenes" with small amounts of transition between them. We have a farm scene that's mostly done though the area around it needs a lot of work. We have small down that's at least laid out. It was in the first incarnation but never completely finished. We have the vast majority of the buildings for it. We have a desert area with the big canyon and buttes and finally we'll have an industrial, large city type of area. Basically a scene for each corner of the layout.

I'll have to post some pics, its too late right now :)

I think that's it. Geek-out over.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Red Letter Christians

Ahh WorldNetDaily. That bastion of conservative news. New column by Joseph Farrah there today talks about "Red Letter Christians" a book by Tony Campolo. He's Bill Clinton's spiritual advisor and since Clinton sinned we all know that that makes Campolo guilty by association.

From the article: "There's a movement afoot to seduce evangelical Christians into anti-biblical, socialist, tyrannical politics – the kind currently energizing Barack Obama's presidential campaign."

So let me get this straight. Inventing reasons to invade a foreign country, making laws that restrict freedoms, spying on your own citizens .... none of these things are tyrannical politics ... but messages of hope are. Got it.

There are some other gems that I'll skip over because then Joe proceeds to tell us what these evil heretics believe:

Let me give you a rundown on what Red Letter Christians believe:

Capital punishment is wrong, despite the clear, unequivocal biblical commandments to take life for life.

Where does it say that? Ah yes, in Leviticus. The same place it tells you not to eat shrimp and that its okay to rape someone if you marry them afterward. Talk to me when you put down the scampi Joe. (mmmmm scampi ....)

Most Christians are too war-like and are guilty of "not loving our enemies."

Who's supporting the current administration? Who's supporting kicking 12 million people out of the country and keeping them in poverty? Who has been vehemently against health care plans for poor children? Are all Christians against these things? No. Do all Christians have racist attitudes? Of course not but are there significant numbers who do? Certainly! Maybe instead of attacking people who point out our collective flaws we should DO something about them. Well .. that is if you can truly call yourself a Christian at all.

Universal health care should be provided by government.

Look there are 100 issues that go along with health care. You're going to be hard pressed to find someone in the country who likes the current system. Who is going to be able to do something about it? The government. This is why we have a government made up of citizens.

Poverty should be eliminated by the U.S. government, not just in the U.S., but throughout the world.

Poverty should be eliminated. What institution is better equipped to take on such a large problem? There are hungry children in this country right now. Obviously the church isn't solving the issue and apparently in general doesn't want to.

The minimum wage should be significantly increased.

I don't think that every one of the people you're talking about believes that. Even if we all did, what about that is "anti-biblical"?

The U.S. should sign the Kyoto Protocol as a step toward solving the phantom crisis of global warming.

And I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person. Even if global warming isn't real (*snicker*) cleaning up the environment in general has lots of positive benefits ... like less cancer for those poor people you don't want to help, creates jobs and makes things prettier. You do realize that in Genesis God told us we were caretakers of this place? He's going to pissed when he finds the mess we've made.

And Joe, you showed above that you love the Old Testament when it comes to killing people but just like eating shrimp, you have to take the good with the bad.

The U.S. should pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan and address the real problem of terrorism by creating a Palestinian state and addressing the root cause – poverty.

Um yeah. We should. Beats spending money on wars. I guess helping the poor really doesn't sit with you well does it, Joe?

We should make condoms available throughout the Third World to fight AIDS.

Indeed we should because not everyone believes the same way as you Joe and that shouldn't be a death sentence ... although you've proved that poor people dying really gets you going.

We should address the same-sex marriage issue by getting government out of the marriage business altogether, leaving it to churches and other religious institutions to decide who should be married and who shouldn't. (No mention of children in this chapter and the ramifications such unions might have on them.)

Oh there it is. I was waiting for it! We can't do something sane like get the government out of a contract with individuals ... why? ... because of THE CHILDREN. Of course Joe doesn't explain what these ramifications are. Also Joe you can't have it both ways. In this whole column you talk about getting the government out of social programs ... but when we suggest the government should get out of the social contract of marriage and put churches in charge of it ... OH NO WE CAN'T DO THAT! There are churches that don't believe like I do and don't hate gay people!!! Oh and that whole bit about complaining that you don't love your enemies enough. You're a hypocrite on that too.

We should promote tougher gun laws.

We should stop and decide if support or lack there of is going to be on the final entrance exam to heaven (hint: its not!)

We should spend more on government schools.

Well considering that pretty much every other western country is ahead of us in terms of graduation rates and testing scores ... we should definitely do something about our public education system. Depoliticizing it would be a good start.

Christians should be offering sanctuary to all illegal aliens.

Christians should be supporting anti-poverty programs that would curb illegal immigration in the first place. Again though this is a political issue not a spiritual one.

The U.S. should cut the military budget and expand wealth-redistribution programs.

The US spends more on its military than the rest of the world COMBINED. So yes. We should. Just the amount of money the military WASTES would probably feed at least a few million children, or provide healthcare for a few hundred thousand. But again this is a political issue not a spiritual one.

Interestingly, according to Campolo, there is no litmus test for Red Letter Christians on the issue of abortion – some are for it, others against it. (It's a big tent on this issue alone.)

My views on abortion are well known. I don't like it but its necessary. As Christians laws aren't going to help.

Joe seems to be like any other right-wing authoritarian ... wedge issues will keep getting his party elected. In the end its about politics, power and money ... things that Jesus specifically said would pass away. The hypocrisy of this attitude is evident .... it looks like the true Christ followers have a long way to go.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Okay, time for Baby Stuff

I hadn't talked about the baby in a long while. I suck because I put all the stuff about him on Facebook because I like the photo app there. I've discovered that's the only thing I like about Facebook. (For the love of PETE stop sending me so many Pirate vs Ninja requests, "gifts" and "Rate my movies/photos/lolcat/etc! I don't care. ) ahem ... I digress.

Anyway! Jen made a little vid of the little guy. Here he is:

Friday, February 01, 2008

What I believe

Okay so today I'm going to basically break all my stated rules and post basically about what I believe as a Christian and why. I've discovered that many people who read my blog aren't believers even though the blog is really aimed at people who are. Most of them have been really nice about it, I did get a somewhat hostile comment in response to my last post. I published it anyway and my response is there as well. I will never take hostility personally, especially on the Internet.

I'm posting this because I don't want anyone to be under any illusions. There are some tough pills to swallow in Christianity that many people (sometimes me included!) would rather not discuss. I also realized that I spend a lot of time talking about what I don't believe and there should probably be a good counter.

So to begin:

I have a very mixed world view that I think accounts for my atypical views as a Christian. My parents were both missionaries and my father was a pastor in several churches. We're from Texas, the "buckle of the bible belt". So I was raised in the typical Christian home environment.With a few important differences:

First of all while my dad also comes from a Christian home, my mom doesn't. In fact her family is somewhat broken which was a lot more taboo in the 50s. Mom wasn't raised in a bubble and she didn't lie about the way the world worked even when my sister and I were kids. The second difference is that our family moved to Tanzania (East Africa) when I was eight. Even as a young child my experiences helped me to see the world beyond the US and far beyond the sheltered life of the bible belt.

When I moved back to the US at the age of 14 I was very bitter. I saw Americans and ignorant and greedy and immoral ... in general. At first I became ultra religious, thinking that God would be pleased with me over the "heathens" that existed in "the world". Overtime though I gave up on God. He wasn't changing people, I wasn't going to waste my time. I never stopped believing but I stopped caring even though I continued to go through all the motions.

It took me almost 5 years, but over time I reevaluated everything I believe in. I stopped worrying about what other people were doing. I stopped worrying about what other people believed. I started realizing the Bible isn't about rules, its about relationships. Specifically between man and God.

Christianity is about loving God and being his friend. God isn't taking a tally of the rules we break. In fact he states that the rules aren't even important. Christianity is different from all religions in this aspect, its not about rituals and rules, God isn't some cosmic principal waiting to strike us down for every little infraction. He wants us to come before him, he wants us to love him because we choose to.

So what's the problem? God cannot break his own rules (yes that is a paradox), and one of his rules is that any imperfection before him would be destroyed. God is so perfect that no imperfection can be in his presence. That's bad news for us because we are not perfect. No one is, everyone has cheated, everyone has lied, everyone has gossiped ... you get the idea.

God's rules demand justice for imperfection. Specifically a sacrifice of blood. Before Christ people met this by the sacrificing of animals and of specific rituals and rules. The hardest part to understand is why God sent Christ and why his sacrifice is different. Christians believe that Christ is the son of God but he is also God himself (yes another paradox). So God literally sacrificed himself as a blood sacrifice to set people free of the rituals and the guilt and to approach God in love. As the perfect sacrifice God immediately paid for all of the imperfections throughout the rest of time. He then showed his power by raising from the dead (physically!).

I think a lot of people (Christians included) see the Christian God as an angry child who stomps and threatens to blow everyone up if they don't follow him. I often get asked if I believe that Christianity is the only way to be in the presence of God, and if I believe in hell as a literal place and finally if I believe that people who aren't Christians are going to hell.

The answers to the questions are disturbing when we think of God as an angry God, but what if the truth is somewhat different. Think of it in metaphorical terms. You're drowning in a massive flood, God is the guy that comes along in a boat and throws a rope to you and pulls you out of the water. In that sense everyone is going to hell, some people choose to take the life preserver. God can't force anyone to take it, he doesn't send people to hell, the choice has to be voluntary. Because of this, most Christians (even the annoying ones) genuinely believe they are doing you a favor by telling you this. We have nothing personal to gain by telling you, in fact we're often ridiculed for it (no I won't say persecuted).

I rant and rave because I want Christians to do a better job. Not just say the words but to be an example. Actions are always louder than words.

That's it from me.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Wedge Issues: Prophesies, signs, and the end of the world

Okay so I've been gone quite awhile, busy with the little one and the business and a million other things that have been going on. I've heard from a few of you in the past months and I must say I'm surprised that there are a number of people who actually care what I rant about. :)

Today is something I've had on my mind for awhile as a wedge issue but I haven't been so sure how to approach it. "The End of the World" (i'll get to the prophesies and signs in a moment). Now I know you may be thinking "why this?" when there is so much else going on in the world, elections, recessions, lots of other teeth grinding stupidity to rant about, and I agree: this may not be a real "wedge issue" in the classic sense. However, even though the Christian establishment isn't pushing this one on the public with some sort of political agenda, there are discussions of it among even mostly rational people both in the Christian community and the general public. I'm not going to get into the real loonies who have stated that doing nothing about global-warming is okay since Jesus is coming back "real soon now", we'll save them for another day.

I'm lumping prophesies and signs in with this because they seem to go hand and hand. On one hand everyone seems to be prophesying about the end of the world and on the other the same people who believe they see the virgin Mary on a piece of toast (a "sign") are apt to believe that someone actually knows the time and date of the end of the world.

A few months ago while my wife was pregnant I talked about a woman in my church who believed that God would change the sex of my baby. That the doctors would be proved wrong just so we could see his power .. or something. She believes that God works only in mysterious ways. People who believe in these prophesies and signs take that a step further: they not only miss God in their everyday lives (a crisis of faith) they also don't know what the Bible states about the end of the world (a crisis of knowledge) and thus follow blindly to what anyone tells them.

God doesn't want blind faith, let alone blind stumbling after anything. That isn't Christianity. You can't have a true faith in God unless you know what you believe! You can't be a Christian without knowing the Bible, and not just knowing the words but knowing the spirit of what the words say.

The sad thing is that its such basic stuff. I know that God didn't put the virgin Mary on a piece of toast. Why? Because God has this commandment about not making graven images, why would he make a graven image as a sign? I don't think that God breaks his own rules. On top of that Jesus was often asked for signs by the Pharisees. He told them that basically they'd missed all the signs he gave and he wasn't giving them anymore. In other words God does many things in everyday life, he wants people to have faith. Besides, just like the Pharisees I think that anyone who has already decided not to believe is going to rationalize any sign given.

When we're talking about the end of the world. Jesus said that no man knows the day or the hour. Google the end of the world you'll find thousands of people who claim to be Christians and claim to know the day and the hour! They cite the scriptures and everything! I don't understand how these people can rationalize that verse, its pretty plain.

I know most people reading this are smarter than that. The thing we normal people have to remember is to not worry about it. Its easy to get caught up in Revelation, wondering what it all means. Back in high school I was very excited about this stuff. Now I realize there is a fundamental truth: it really doesn't matter how the world ends. God will be in control of it, through a natural or a super-natural phenomenon. Either way we as Christians must continue to live our lives as Christians. Jesus talked about coming like a thief in the night, and that we should be ready. He didn't mean to hide in a bunker in fear, or to stop living our lives, or to destroy his creations (oops, I said I was saving that for later). He meant we must continue to live as we are called to live. We have no worries.