foto friday

messing around with bokeh and depth of field in the Parma’s grass.

This one with my 300mm f4 and water droplets on the grass
out and about at 300mm

and this one with my 80-200mm f2.8 and a leaf (new custom header picture)
leaf at f2.8

here is a two flash “strobist” take on decorative grass headers
two flash
sb800 to camera left about two feet from the grass. Sb800 on the camera about 6 or 7 feet from the grass. both flashes bare. both on TTL.


where we are

Christian Smith and Patricia Snell have written a book that looks fascinating. It is called Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults

at the link above you can read extended excerpts from the book and get a feel for what Christian and Patricia are doing therein. Take a look at Page 13 for an excellent example of the dominant religious thinking of the age in which we live.

“Behind many of Brad’s answers is the apparent view that an individual’s choice of beliefs–influenced by his or her family socialization, of course–is mostly what makes those beliefs true, at least for that person.”

a very subjective view of right and wrong predominates. Anyone paying attention can see it everywhere around us. it is the water in which we swim. It is our version of the world/zeitgeist/Present Age to which Paul says we are not to be conformed in Romans 12:2.

HT to Phil Ryken who has the following quote from the book and brief but on target response:

The moral outlook of many young Americans–an ethic based on emotions rather than on reasoned principles–was encapsulated in the words of one respondent, when asked to explain how to tell the difference between right and wrong:

“Morality is how I feel too, because in my heart, I could feel it. You could feel what’s right or wrong in your heart as well as your mind. Most of the time, I always felt, I feel it in my heart and it makes it easier for me to morally decide what’s right and wrong. Because if I feel about doing something, I’m going to feel it in my heart, and if it feels good, I’m going to do it.”

For more on the consequences of doing what your heart feels, consult Jeremiah 17:9.

By the way, does Phil’s quote above remind you of another quote from someone more famous than one of these young adults?

remember this?

GG:Do you believe in heaven?

OBAMA:Do I believe in the harps and clouds and wings?

GG:A place spiritually you go to after you die?

OBAMA:What I believe in is that if I live my life as well as I can, that I will be rewarded. I don’t presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die.But I feel very strongly that whether the reward is in the here and now or in the hereafter, the aligning myself to my faith and my values is a good thing.
When I tuck in my daughters at night and I feel like I’ve been a good father to them, and I see in them that I am transferring values that I got from my mother and that they’re kind people and that they’re honest people, and they’re curious people, that’s a little piece of heaven.

GG:Do you believe in sin?


GG:What is sin?

OBAMA:Being out of alignment with my values.

GG:What happens if you have sin in your life?

OBAMA:I think it’s the same thing as the question about heaven. In the same way that if I’m true to myself and my faith that that is its own reward, when I’m not true to it, it’s its own punishment.

speaking ill of others

Nathan Finn posted some great advice from Charles Simeon regarding what to do when hearing someone tell you a bad report about another person:

This sage advice comes from Charles Simeon, the great 19th century Anglican evangelical:

1st – To hear as little as possible what is to the prejudice of others.

2nd – To believe nothing of the kind till I am absolutely forced to it.

3rd – Never to drink into the spirit of one who circulates an ill report.

4th – Always to moderate, as far as I can, the unkindness which is expressed towards others.

5th – Always to believe, that if the other side were heard, a very different account would be given of the matter.

From Hugh Evan Hopkins, Charles Simeon of Cambridge (Eerdmans, 1977), p. 134.

It reminded me of the Texas Lawyers Creed which is the aspirational goal for how lawyers are to deal with one another, their clients and courts. It especially reminded me of this part of the Creed that seems to be ignored by so many lawyers (and people):

I will not, without good cause, attribute bad motives or unethical conduct to opposing counsel nor bring the profession into disrepute by unfounded accusations of impropriety. I will avoid disparaging personal remarks or acrimony towards opposing counsel, parties and witnesses. I will not be influenced by any ill feeling between clients. I will abstain from any allusion to personal peculiarities or idiosyncrasies of opposing counsel.

abortion as genocide

Margaret Sanger and her monstrous eugenic aspirations for abortion on demand appear to be bearing fruit.

Abortion kills more black Americans than the seven leading causes of death combined, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 2005, the latest year for which the abortion numbers are available.

Abortion killed at least 203,991 blacks in the 36 states and two cities (New York City and the District of Columbia) that reported abortions by race in 2005, according to the CDC.  During that same year, according to the CDC, a total of 198,385 blacks nationwide died from heart disease, cancer, strokes, accidents, diabetes, homicide, and chronic lower respiratory diseases combined.  These were the seven leading causes of death for black Americans that year.

HT to Challies

two other small data points on this issue.

Here is Kathryn Lopez’s explication of Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood.

and here is the Republican candidate for Congress in NY’s 23d district, Dede Scozzafava accepting the Margaret Sanger award. No wonder the third party candidacy of Doug Hoffman on the Conservative Party line is likely to either win or at least finish in second ahead of such a “republican” or as Mark Steyn calls her a DIABLO (Democrat in all but label only).

Restless hearts

Justin Taylor posts the following quote from C.S. Lewis regarding our restless hearts.

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (HarperOne, 1980), pp. 49–50:

What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

The reason why it can never succeed is this. God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.

HT: Tony Reinke

Another hard one

Stand to Reason Blog found a place on the net called “The Abortioneers” which has since disappeared but remains visible in Google cache. Here is the paper abstract and information.

the article by L Harris is very interesting stuff. she acknowledges her deep ambivalence at performing abortions:

To reflect seriously on the question of how providers determine their limit for abortion, one must be willing to cross borders and boundaries (including seemingly inflexible ones like “pro-choice” and “pro-life”). Therefore, speaking as a provider, I will focus on aspects of abortion care that we don’t normally talk about, issues for which no room has been made in current pro-choice abortion discourse, many of which may frankly be too dangerous for pro-choice movements to acknowledge. They are:

• personal and psychological aspects of second trimester abortion provision

• visual and visceral dimensions of second trimester abortion

• violence inherent in abortion, especially apparent in the second trimester

• legitimate ethical and moral issues providers may have with second trimester abortion, as distinct from first trimester abortion.

There are reasons for the noticeable silence on these more difficult aspects of abortion service provision, as I will discuss. However, ultimately, I argue that this silence is harmful to individual providers, to the abortion rights movement itself, to public opinion around abortion, and perhaps most importantly, to the women and couples who need our services. I will make the case for a new kind of abortion and pro-choice discourse – one which is honest about the nature of abortion procedures – and which uses this honesty to strengthen abortion care

especially personal here:

When I was a little over 18 weeks pregnant with my now pre-school child, I did a second trimester abortion for a patient who was also a little over 18 weeks pregnant. As I reviewed her chart I realised that I was more interested than usual in seeing the fetal parts when I was done, since they would so closely resemble those of my own fetus. I went about doing the procedure as usual, removed the laminaria I had placed earlier and confirmed I had adequate dilation. I used electrical suction to remove the amniotic fluid, picked up my forceps and began to remove the fetus in parts, as I always did. I felt lucky that this one was already in the breech position – it would make grasping small parts (legs and arms) a little easier. With my first pass of the forceps, I grasped an extremity and began to pull it down. I could see a small foot hanging from the teeth of my forceps. With a quick tug, I separated the leg. Precisely at that moment, I felt a kick – a fluttery “thump, thump” in my own uterus. It was one of the first times I felt fetal movement. There was a leg and foot in my forceps, and a “thump, thump” in my abdomen. Instantly, tears were streaming from my eyes – without me – meaning my conscious brain – even being aware of what was going on. I felt as if my response had come entirely from my body, bypassing my usual cognitive processing completely. A message seemed to travel from my hand and my uterus to my tear ducts. It was an overwhelming feeling – a brutally visceral response – heartfelt and unmediated by my training or my feminist pro-choice politics. It was one of the more raw moments in my life. Doing second trimester abortions did not get easier after my pregnancy; in fact, dealing with little infant parts of my born baby only made dealing with dismembered fetal parts sadder.

The point is that, visually and viscerally, doing an 18-week abortion is different from doing an eight-week abortion. Removing a microscopic fetus and gestational sac is visually and viscerally different from removing what looks like a fully formed but small baby. Though I focus on D&E here, similar difficulties hold true for second trimester medical abortion.

What do you do with experiences and sensations like mine? Providers of second trimester abortions see things that most people don’t. What kind of dissociative process inside us allows us to do this routinely? What normal person does this kind of work? This brings me to the issue of violence.

and here is her conclusion on violence:

It is worth considering for a moment the relationship of feminism to violence. In general feminism is a peaceful movement. It does not condone violent problem-solving, and opposes war and capital punishment. But abortion is a version of violence. What do we do with that contradiction? How do we incorporate it into what we are as a movement, in particular a feminist movement? In feminist sociological and anthropological literature, the permissibility of acknowledging the legitimacy of any “pro-life” arguments is in dispute. Some scholars consider the possibility that understanding the anti-abortion side of things is all right, and in fact may lead the way to finding common ground with those who oppose abortion.[16], [17] and [18] Others argue that there is no room for compromise or finding a middle ground – that there is no ground to give up in this hard fought battle.19

But where does that leave the abortion provider and team? What do we do when caught between pro-choice discourse that, while it reflects our values, does not accurately reflect the full extent of our experience of abortion and in fact contradicts an enormous part of it, and the anti-abortion discourse and imagery that may actually be more closely aligned to our experience but is based in values we do not share? Where do we go to talk about it? It is one of the notable gaps, silences in the provision of abortion care – I would argue to the detriment of the pro-choice movement, and in particular to more widespread availability of second trimester abortion.

but yet, even in the face of all of that ambivalence and recognition of the reality of what she is doing, she remains unalterably committed to abortion on demand. ” I must add, however, that I consider declining a woman’s request for abortion also to be an act of unspeakable violence.”

and check this bit out:

We might conclude at this point that a provider who feels that abortion is violent is simply ambivalent, conflicted, is not really committed to women’s abortion rights, and just shouldn’t be doing this work. “Pro-life” supporters may argue that the kind of stories and sentiments I’ve relayed spell the end of abortion – that honest speech acts regarding the reality of abortion will weaken the pro-choice movement to the point where it cannot sustain itself any longer. I want to make the case that honesty about abortion work can be the basis for a stronger movement – one that makes it easier for providers and the teams they work with to do all abortions, especially second trimester abortions.

There are ethical and moral positions that make complete sense of the position that says women should have full access to abortion – but simultaneously allow for discomfort with aborted second trimester fetuses. Two traditions prevail in philosophical discussions of abortion and the fetus: conservative views based in natural law, which argue for the inviolability of fetal life from the moment of conception; and liberal views based in Enlightenment principles, in which what matters most is an achievement reached – sentience or birth.22

Really, what can you say? Stand to Reason points out the extreme capability of the human mind to deal with cognitive dissonance with rationalization. That is a fair observation. but keep in mind always that there is a destroying deceitful deceiving adversary helping us selfish self-centered human beings in our rationalization process.

HT to the Z man again.

the gospel

another post defining the Gospel. this one is excellent. check out the whole post, but here is the meat of the coconut:

So what is the gospel?

Although this brief survey is far from complete, it consistently reveals that the gospel is good news concerning Jesus and what he did to accomplish salvation for sinners.

In other words, the gospel is objective. It tells us what God has done to save his people. It consists of concrete, historical events, rooted in Old Testament promises, types, and institutions that were fulfilled in Jesus. It promises that all who trust in Christ and his work will receive forgiveness and life. Of course, this isn’t merely a catalogue of events of only historical interest; all of this has massive implications for our lives. But we must not confuse the gospel message itself with the outworking of those implications.

HT to the Z man.