Sunday, September 16, 2007


Yeah, I know that I have not posted in a while but this is important...

The adoption finally happened and I have three new great siblings! They will be home Sept. 25

Thursday, January 18, 2007


A position report from crossing the Atlantic:

Date: June 25, 2004
Daily Position report #27
Time UTC: 20:44

Our position is...

16 degrees 36 minutes North, 36 degrees 28 minutes West. We are going 6.7 knots under spinnaker and are on a course of 281 degrees true. The wind is 12 knots app. from apx. 040. We have 12% cloud cover and it is 81.5 degrees down below. We tacked this morning. Today has been MUCH better. We are sailing on a line that allows us to head straight for Bequia, the spinnaker is holding, and the seas are a good size in their relation to the wind allowing the sails to stay full. YEA!!! At this point in the passage I am starting to feel a sort of detachment from land or, all though it sounds funny, the world. Time has seemed to stop. I can almost get a sense of what it would be like to live in a world without time. To look back on the days of our passage is like looking back on only one day. Just one long instant in time if that makes any sense. Everyday is the same it is only the degree of comfort that is different. Even though the storms and rain of the weather or the cold and heat of the seasons are a pain and uncomfortable, I am glad that God made this world a changing one. Part of Human Nature seems to make it so we get calloused to the beauty of say, something like, a tree real quick unless that tree transforms from vibrant green to gold and finally stark black against the white of the snow. We are moving forward but it feels like we are getting nowhere. I guess to cheat on my description I could say that we are in "The Twilight Zone." I know I am over romanticizing all this but it is the best way I can think of to describe only a part of the mental feelings of being on a passage of this magnitude. I couldn't imagine doing this passage on one of Columbus' ships not knowing how long it would take, having no knowledge of what the weather was like, not knowing what I would find at the end if we made it at all, and not having any definite destination. To make things worse the wind and current would have been, as it is for us, right on the stern so turning around would not have been too feasible. Most nights we have had a lot, probably an average of six a night, of flying fish slam into the deck. Two kamakaze flying fish even flew only a couple feet behind my dad's head, while he was on night watch, before one slammed into the deck and the other into our mizzen mast. The flying fish land on our deck only at night so I figure they can't see or sense anything very well out of the water in the dark. They also only come on board on the highside meaning that they have to fly at least 6-7 feet in the air to make it on board. Pretty amazing! I hope all is well back in "the world."



Sunday, October 29, 2006

On the light side. . .

Thought the last post was a little heavy and the next one is shaping up to be as well so. . .

Saturday, October 21, 2006

What to do about the Middle East?

The conflict in the Middle East is one that our generation is going to have to face and deal with in the same way our parent’s generation dealt with Communism and their parent’s with Fascism.

It has bothered me that I don’t know what any solutions might be and have not heard one person articulate an adequate answer. It has been a sort of mission of mine to relieve the torment and find some kind of answer.

A few days ago I got the chance to hear a former major general of the KGB turned traitor, Oleg Kalugin, (thanks to Katie who was awesome enough to get permission so I could sit in on her counterintelligence class) speak on his life experiences and his insight into the current conflict. More recently, I got the chance to hear Dr. Khairi Abaza, a member of Egypt’s Wafd Party and senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, give a lecture titled, “The Arab World - No Stability Without Reform.” It was a relief listening to them as they both articulated some good ideas on how to respond to the current conflict.

For this post I thought I would pour out some of the ideas that have come together in my head based on listening to these two speakers, great discussions with my roommate, and having just generally been tormented for an answer.

All these ideas just came together in my head in the past few days. This is not yet my opinion so I put it out there really only for critique. What I do know for sure, though, is that our generation is going to have to find an answer to this current conflict and must have the courage to take the right action when an answer is found. The question is not does action need to be taken the question is what action should be taken. We like to think of Hitler as having been insane but look at what he was able to do. The “insane” radical clerics, leaders of Al Qaeda, and leader of Iran can do the same.

Arabs think one thing, say another, and do another. This is not coming from me but Dr. Khairi Abaza who is an Arab. Watching the news for even a few minutes about the Middle East would seem to conflict with this picture. Arabs are shown burning American flags, blowing themselves up, rioting etc. Run into the middle of any of those situations with a green card, Dr. Abaza says one of his friends likes to joke, and things would change real fast.

This concept is fortunate as the world is now in a conflict not just of arms but also of ideas. Americans understand the fact well that ideas cannot be changed through force. This idea is part of the greatness of America. In the Middle East there is no such free exchange of ideas. Muslims go to the mosque each day and that is where they are fed their ideas. They are told a skewed view of history where the old Arab empire was a bastion of peace and freedom and the only reason they are where they are today is because of western oppression. The recent history of western interaction with them does somewhat support this: first colonization, then western backing of tyranny during the Cold War.

According to Dr. Abaza, many Arabs do not see America as bringing democracy they see us as bringing oppression for that is what we have done. In Afghanistan we did the right thing but spent hundreds of billions of dollars fighting and only a matter of millions in reconstruction. No Marshall Plan here. In Lebanon, Israel (supported by the U.S.) did the right thing in defending its people but now it is not Israel, the U.S., or pro-democratic groups that are funding its reconstruction it is Hezbollah.

This is how the radical Islamic groups work. They rebuild where we destroy and support the people with welfare. Their money pours in from oil rich Arab states. If democratic elections were held in the Middle East today the radical Islamists would win. They did in Palestine. Egypt, in their latest election, released political prisoners and allowed religious slogans in campaigns—20% of the seats went to the radical Islamists 4% went to the secularists. The people had two choices: a corrupt party that said they would give the people freedom and democracy but with no backing to do so or a party, backed by Arab oil, that supplies the people with welfare and new housing.

Democracy is an end but reform must come first. The Arabs need the same tools that the colonists had in the American revolution. There needs to be a free press so the people can hear other ideas besides what they are being told in the mosque. The system of democracy is not enough; everything that comes along with it that we have in America needs to be established as well. America needs to support the pro-democracy groups like Iran supports Hezbollah. According to Dr. Abaza the groups are already in place they just need our backing. We may have to destroy like in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon before we can build up but we also need a Marshall Plan. Germany and Japan were bastions of radicalism and were totally devastated. Look where they are now. Similar results are possible in the Middle East.

Bush is the first to pursue this idea of spreading democracy and freedom. These ideas are new and are still being articulated. We are moving in the right direction, but what is said in words needs to be shown to the Arabs by action.

Military action was needed in World War II but the Marshall Plan was as well. The answer is not only to attack other cultures but also to show them the good parts of ours. We need to look like a friend. This is a battle of ideologies. While military action is needed, we need to go further and also win the minds of the people and that cannot be done solely through the use of force.

The Republicans are on the right track but need to go further. The Democrats idea of foreign policy is whatever Bush says is wrong or, at best, that the status quo is all right. These are dangerous ideas and antithetical to peace in the Middle East and therefore U.S. interests. Let us not throw away the idea that democracy is a good end for the Arab world and therefore for U.S. interests, but, instead, also realize that there are other means needed to that end as well.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Bull Riding

I think my family's move to Tallahassee is turning them into country folk. Now bull riding?! My brother decided to join his Bible study group in this crazy venture (the leader of the group, Jason, used to be a rodeo cowboy and, apparently, still has connections)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Alan Keyes' article "Truthful Intolerance"

I know this is a bit long but Keyes really is right on and cuts to the core of what the War on Terror is all about. . .

Posted: March 27, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Alan Keyes

© 2006

The Bush administration has decried the threatened execution of a Christian convert from Islam in Afghanistan as a violation of universal democratic principles. While we should applaud the administration's expressions of outrage, we must lament the inaccuracy of the reason cited for it.

The principle of democracy is majority rule. Does anyone deny that the overwhelming majority of Afghanistan's population is Muslim? It is also likely that a majority of the Afghan population supports the decision to bring charges against the Christian convert, and even to put him to death when he is found guilty as charged of abandoning Islam.

This case is not about respect for democratic principle. It is about respect for the principles of unalienable human rights from which the preference for democratic self-government ultimately derives. The doctrine of unalienable rights, which requires that government be based upon consent (i.e., elections decided by majority vote) also prescribes limits upon the legitimate uses of government coercion. Even with the support of an overwhelming majority, government cannot legitimately use or threaten to use force to destroy the unalienable rights of individuals.

The right to individual self-determination in matters of conscience is the first and foremost of these rights, and the one on which depends the very possibility of individual liberty in other respects. There can be no liberty without choice, and there can be no free choice when the threat of violence holds conscience in the iron grip of fear. This is why Jefferson wisely swore "eternal enmity against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

It is also why terrorism poses a threat to humanity that goes beyond the destruction of physical life. Terrorists seek to inspire fear by systematically employing violence against the innocent, with the ultimate aim of bending to submission the mind and will of targeted populations. In a sense, terrorism is the common principle of all physically despotic regimes, the naked truth at the heart of violent tyranny. If in Afghanistan the United States tolerates the threat or use of force to coerce conscience, we are allowing the principle of terrorism to triumph once again in the very country we say we are reclaiming from the terrorist scourge. Given the sacrifice of life good people have already made, this would be more than tragic irony – it would be criminal neglect of duty.

We cannot, of course, ignore the fact that insistence on respect for the rights of conscience in this case may fuel an uprising against the American sponsored government in Afghanistan. Leading Islamic clerics have declared that if the Christian convert is set free, they will not allow him to leave the country, but will incite Muslim believers to seize and tear him limb from limb, until there is nothing left. They contend that God requires his death, since his apostasy from Islam is an affront to God that demands the severest punishment. The doctrine of unalienable rights thus comes into conflict with the doctrine of absolute fidelity to the god of Islam. If indeed God requires that such absolute fidelity be enforced by human law, this not only implies the death of the Christian convert, it implies that the doctrine of unalienable rights is a false doctrine, incompatible with the true religion.

In both Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush administration has acted on the assumption that Islamic faith is not incompatible with the possibility of democratic self-government. The truth is, however, that if Islam demands the use of force against believers who leave its ranks, it may equally sanction the use of force against unbelievers who refuse to join them in the first place. In the one case, as in the other, we see a religious doctrine that not only sanctions terrorism, it makes terrorism a holy obligation of the faithful. Such a doctrine is an inherent threat to peace, both within countries that may subscribe to it, and toward other countries that do not acquiesce in their fanatical commitment to the forceful imposition of Islam. We may not wish to make the war against terrorism a matter of religion, but if Islamic clerics promote this doctrine of coercion in matters of conscience, they will force the issue.

Key elements of the American elite recoil in horror at this prospect. Why? Because it will force the American people to face a truth these elites are working hard to erase from our consciousness. The doctrine of unalienable rights is not a secular insight, justified by some purely materialistic scientific proof. According to the American credo, we are all created equal and endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. The Islamic clerics who insist that God requires the destruction of the rights of conscience do so in the name of a very different deity than the one the American Declaration of Independence invokes as the authoritative source and sanction for our unalienable rights. The wishful thinking of liberal atheists, sexual hedonists and anti-Christian extremists provides no substitute for this understanding of our claim to liberty. The secular obsessions of liberal judges offer no replacement for it.

The critical threat to the rights of conscience in Afghanistan suggests that the ability to defend the principles of freedom against the claims of oppressive faith is not a matter of abstract concern. If we are not sure of the premises for our opposition to religious oppression, how shall we maintain our resolve against fanatics who are deathly certain of their obligation to promote it? If all we have to offer against their claims of divine sanction is the feeble notion that we like tolerance better, with what authority shall we defend with force what they so eagerly seek to destroy with violence? If an otherwise innocent Christian convert must die because the god of Islam demands his sacrifice, why is it wrong to kill innocent unbelievers when the god of Islam demands they perish in a holy war?

The simple answer is that the god of the Afghan inquisitors, like the god of the Spanish Inquisition, is not God at all, but a ferocious figment of man's evil imagination. God does not require human sacrifice. God does not demand vicious war against everyone who refuses His call to worship. God does not require human violence to vindicate the glory that belongs to Him in spite of any human power, choice or will. On the contrary, God has endowed each and every human being with the will to choose, and the right to exercise that will. He has called to every conscience, but sanctions no human violence to enforce that call. He has offered His truth to human understanding, but its hold upon will and conscience needs no human executioner. The true God is not a god of violence, terror and death, but the God of peace, justice and liberty.

The brainwashed sensitivities of many contemporary readers will react with unease to this contrast of truth and falsity with respect to God. After all, Oprah says each person must find his or her own truth, which implies that others cannot condemn the falsity we find in it. As the plight of the Afghan convert illustrates, however, one's understanding of truth has consequences. When their "true" god requires violence against the innocent, when he demands that death stand guard over the prison house of conscience, when his minions incite unbridled atrocity against anyone who disavows their faith, someone must claim the right to assert against their tyrant god the superior claims of the God whose discipline is mercy and who is so far from demanding human life as the sacrifice for apostasy that He offers Himself to provide the price of every sin and the redemption of every sinner's bond.

The right basis for opposition to the deadly ferocity of the terrorist clerics is not that they are intolerant, but that they are wrong. It is strange hypocrisy indeed to tout the claims of tolerance in the very circumstance where we must be adamantly intolerant of their religiously inspired demand for innocent blood. The simple fact is that we reject the bloodthirsty concept of God that they invoke to justify this demand. No muddled stew of secular jargon about democratic principles and universal tolerance can substitute for the straightforward willingness to challenge their deadly lies about the Deity, and invite the conscience of humanity to choose between a false god whose demands of faith snuff out the life and spirit of humanity, and the true God who offers by faith a path to more abundant life, in spirit and in truth.

This true God is the patron of American liberty, and of the hope for human decency and dignity that we strive to encourage around the world. We obviously cannot claim the right to impose by force the regime of liberty that reflects His patronage, but we cannot shirk the responsibility to oppose, by force if necessary, those who make terrorist war on behalf of its destruction. This responsibility to defend the claims of decent conscience against the systematic perpetrators of atrocity is what brought us into Afghanistan in the first place. We cannot now retreat from it. We shall not extinguish the threat of terror until by our actions we have rebuked the false doctrines of religious fanaticism that embolden and justify its perpetrators.

It turns out that the war against terror – like the battle against communist totalitarianism that preceded it – is not just a physical and material struggle, it is a battle for the heart, mind and spirit of humanity itself. The question we must put to the government and people of Afghanistan, and indeed to peoples everywhere, is not a choice between fanaticism and tolerance, but a choice between the truth that tugs at every human heart and conscience – and the seductive lies that fuel violent passion and pride, but in the end betray all decent hope. Whatever religious label they wear, these lies cannot be tolerated – not if we want peace and justice to prevail. Ironically, then, truthful intolerance, not timid toleration, must be the principle of our battle against the fanatics of religious terror. We must boldly and forcefully say no, both to the atrocity they propose to perpetrate against an innocent Christian man, and the false religious doctrine that gave rise to it.

If the Bush administration fails to act on this necessity, it will destroy the moral basis of the war against terrorism. As things stand, this will be a greater default of responsibility for the national security of this nation than the day itself when the Towers fell. I pray that the president understands the gravity of the crisis we are in if Abdul Rahman dies.

Monday, March 13, 2006

SOURCE Magazine now online!

This is sort of old news but thought it now safe to announce to the world (well all those that come to this blog that is):

Patrick Henry College's SOURCE Magazine, the publication that I am a reporter for, is now online! David Sessions did an awesome job putting this together. Here is the link: