31 October 2009

The Week that Was

It's late on Saturday night, and I am up with little Clare for the first shift of the evening while Kristen gets some much needed rest. Today was our first day on our own, as Kristen's mother left this morning to go visit some other family. We had a very good and balanced day. And now, as things are quiet in the house (well, mostly, I just started some laundry and dishes), I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on the week that was, and particularly on what I have learned in that week.

This week I have learned...
that there are worse things in the world than being pooped and peed on
that Grandma makes great cookies, and an even greater encourager
that babies, while delicate, aren't quite as fragile as a soap bubble
that, as odd as it feels to have a real family surrounding me, it's an amazing experience
that even wiping spit from a baby's mouth can be a moment of pure joy
that our dog is amazingly tender toward Clare
that you have to be able to think outside the box with your baby, no matter how demerited you are to do things a particular way
that mothers are the most awesome people on the planet
that my wife is even more beautiful than the day I met her

And the most important thing I have learned this week...
"Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap." (Luke 6:38a NLT)
God has filled me with a great joy in my little one and my wife. May those of you who are parents, or who hope to become parents, find his joy and his blessing in your lives as well.

27 October 2009

Welcome Home, Clare Adele!

Clare is now home... mother and daughter are doing fine. Photos are now available at this link.

I cannot express to all of our family and friends how joyful and happy we are, and how thankful we are for their prayers, love, and support. God has been gracious to us beyond our deserving, and has blessed us with this wonderful gift. Please continue to pray for Clare's health and growth, and for our being good parents.

Not much else to say now... we are both very tired, and I think we are giving some consideration to sleepy time for ourselves.

26 October 2009

Welcome to the world, Clare Adele!

This morning at 9:31 (or 9:36, we are still trying to sort that out), my wife Kristen gave birth to our first daughter, Clare Adele Lyons, weighing in at 7 pounds, 9 ounces, and measuring 20 inches in length. Cannot upload photos from where I am, but photos will be forthcoming in a few days. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers.

24 October 2009

Because I Think You Need a CoCo Fix

Offered without commentary, mainly because I happen to think everyone on the planet could use a CoCo fix right about now. Poor little thing doesn't know just how topsy-turvy her life is about to become... or does she?

A Rocket To Nowhere

Next Tuesday, NASA plans to launch a test version of its new Ares I booster skyward on a suborbital mission to evaluate the flight characteristics of the planned replacement for the current Space Shuttle. This new rocket, the first stage of which is based on the solid rocket boosters currently employed for the Shuttle, is intended to loft a new spacecraft, known as Orion, into low earth orbit sometime in the next five years (or is it six... I've lost count with all the delays).

Orion is a great idea, and I wholeheartedly support sending human beings back to the Moon, and eventually on to Mars and beyond, but America's space program is at a low-point, similar to that of the post-Apollo era. Between the launch of the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975 to the launch of the first Shuttle mission in 1981, NASA experienced lagging timetables, technical issues, and slashed budgets (to be fair, the slashed budgets predated the cancellation of the Apollo project) as it prepared to deploy a fundamentally flawed and compromised launch vehicle.

NASA again faces tough times as a political leader with too many irons in the fire to give due consideration to spaceflight has spun the future of the American space program off to a commission and a White House panel to essentially determine the path forward for NASA's manned space program.

NASA chief Charlie Bolden, a retired astronaut, has ordered engineers at the Marshall Space Flight Center to look into the fesiability of alternatives to the Ares project, including the Jupiter launch system, better known as Direct. Will it be too little, too late, to save the American space program? Possibly. Commercial space flight is a wonderful notion, and depending on the definition of commercial space flight, it may be somewhat practical. However, if by commercial spaceflight one means hitching a ride with companies like Space X, Rocketplane Kistler, or Orbital Sciences, the plain fact of the matter is that their systems arcitecture is neither robust nor mature enough to support a manned space endeavor. Mounting Orion on an existing EELV (evolved expendable launch vehicle) in the Atlas V or Delta IV Heavy can only marginally be considered 'commercial' as NASA is already contracting with them to launch various missions into deep space.

Hopefully, some day - perhaps even in my lifetime - inexpensive, reliable access to space will be a realized dream, but NASA isn't going to accomplish the dream with the Ares I system. It is already over-budget, under-performing, and way, way off on its timetable. Even the test next week won't feature a full-up first stage, because one hasn't been produced yet. Staying with Ares is a supreme mistake, but so is abandoning or curtailing manned space exploration altogether. Here's to hoping that the Obama Administration will make an intelligent choice at the recommendation of the people who really know how to accomplish the mission. Otherwise, the Ares IX test flight will truly become the 'Rocket to Nowhere' and an absolute waste of taxpayer money that could have been better spent on alternative methods to achieve the Project Constellation goal of Moon, Mars, and Beyond.

23 October 2009

Annoying Misconceptions

Earlier in my presbyteral career, I spent about four years as a member of a now-defunct traditional Anglican Church which was, essentially, a low-to-broad Church body. The bishop I served under had at least conversational relations (and some very close relations) with bishops and clergy in other jurisdictions that were, broadly, in the traditional Anglican camp.

In those days, I was certainly a bit of an outcast in my own body – always the highest churchman on the block (with the chasuble to prove it), but I also retained an inordinate love for things like John Michael Talbot music, modern translations of the Bible, and so on. As a result, I in those days often encountered criticism of my views on music and Scripture. Of late, as I have expanded my reading and studies anew in a more Reformed Catholic direction, I have found there remain two supremely annoying misconceptions among the world of traditional Christianity in general (and in Anglicanism in specific).

The first misconception I that irks me is the idea that contemporary Christian music is incapable of being spiritually uplifting and moving because it is, supposedly, ‘indistinguishable’ from secular music. While it is utterly certain that much that passes for modern Christian music is somewhat offensive to my aesthetic senses, I don’t see the use of secular beats and rhythms as reasons to disregard contemporary selections. Myself, I rarely hear organ music that I actually care for; I’d prefer a guitar any day. It doesn’t matter the song – “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” and “One Bread, One Body” both sound more meaningful to me on a guitar or even a piano than they ever have on an organ. This isn’t to say that organs are bad (well, that well-played organs are bad – I’ve heard plenty of awful organ music over the years!), but it isn’t meaningful to everyone. Biblically, we see (particularly in the Old Testament) a wide variety of instruments employed in praise of God. While I am not likely to care that much for drums, bass guitars, cymbals, and tambourines, I cannot discount them when the music is offered with a pure heart and spirit.

The second misconception that bugs me more, however, is the notion that the King James Bible is the only valid Bible, and that both Biblical readings and Liturgical usage must be in ‘ye olde English’. I have no beef with people who prefer classical English. Its cadences are un-matched (and I doubt they ever can be matched with the modern tongue), and its memorization qualities are readily apparent (mainly because of cadences!), but comprehension is nearly always lacking, and the grammatical structures – particularly in liturgical texts – are foreign to English as it is used today. Does this mean that Churches employ classical English will grow better than those which employ contemporary linguistics? No, I don’t think so – though I have no data to back up this claim. I don’t know that either side will grow better or worse, but I do know that it is impossible to look at classical English texts for contemporary English use without a severe re-visitation of some of the vocabulary and a remediation in structure away from the rhetorical English commonly used in older prayers and texts.

Additionally, words change their meaning over time, and theological hairsplitting is often lost on individual believers. The simple example of sheol, hades, tartarus, and gehennah all being translated as hell in the King James Bible gives an immediate and readily apparent example of how basic Biblical truths can be quickly covered up by a bad translation. Contemporary Bibles aren’t always better – my beloved New Living Translation, even in its second revised-revised edition, still manages to screw up the status of Joseph and Mary’s relationship before Jesus’ birth (they were not engaged!).

Translations are just that – translations, attempts to convey truths from one language into another. Some translations are deliberately laced with falsehoods (the New World Translation comes to mind), but most preserve the spirit of the Gospel Message intact, in spite of occasional (or even significant) errors in translation. The King James text is certainly filled with problems, and I get a laugh when people tell me they are using the original, God-preserved Bible and point to their KJV. I go on to ask them exactly which version of the KJV was ‘preserved’ – the 1611 original? Perhaps the 1801 revision? Or is it the Third Millennium Bible produced in the late 1990’s? All of these Bibles unquestionably preserve the truth of God’s Word, but to proclaim that they are the single God-preserved biblical text for English-speaking Christians is patently absurd.

Beauty is often in the eye of the beholder, and I find beauty in a guitar and an NLT Bible. Others find it in the KJV and an organ. Still others will find them in other senses and settings. Now matter where you find beauty, I pray that your beauty contains the depths of God’s majesty and glory, and enables you to worship him in spirit and truth. At the same time, I pray that you won’t rush to un-Church those who disagree with your position; for wherever the Gospel of Salvation is proclaimed and the Sacraments rightly ministered, wherever Jesus is exalted and the moral, ethical, and theological imperatives of Sacred Scripure are proclaimed - Christ is present there.

New Review at TrekMovie.com

My review of James Swallow's new Star Trek: Titan novel, "Synthesis, is now  online at TrekMovie.com.. A very enjoyable book, with only one significant annoyance (detailed in review). This is Swallow's second major Star Trek novel, and it's an amazingly well-written book. Having thought about it for a while, I have to say I think his previous book, set in the Deep Space Nine storyline, was more powerful, but "Synthesis" does not dissapoint.

22 October 2009

Quite Possibly the Best Response I Have Seen

Father Chris Larimer at the Adiaphora blog has quoted Bishop Jeremy Taylor in response to the recent invitation by the Roman Church to Anglicans who find themselves deeply concerned about their future. You can read his post at this link.

I must admit that I strongly agree with Bishop Taylor's comments, in their temporal context, but today, I am not so sure. One cannot be sure what one is getting into these days when entering an Anglican/Episcopal Church. Sadly, while some contend truly for 'the faith once delivered', others have abandoned it for what I have come to describe most of mainline Christianity to be: Humanism with an object of affection.

Options for Anglicans committed to the truth and authority of the Scripture are avaliable, but they require of the potential adherant a strong sense of the place of tradition and reason in the life of the Church and her approach to Biblical understanding.

Ancient (i.e., patristic) tradition gives us a framework to understand the genesis of how we explain what the Bible teaches, since the patristic environment was the one into which the Gospels first began to circulate. This tradition is a strong guide to Biblical understanding, but it must be remembered that it is a guide to it, not a guarantor of it.

Reason, however, is a lousy expositor of Scripture. Certainly a regenerated reason has its place - it can be a strong help in seeing how various texts and traditions can be brought to bear (both for ourselves and for others), but unregenerated reason is automatically suspect when it comes to making heads, tails, or anything else out of the Word of God.

Anglicanism needs a fresh, clear-minded reformation, and Rome will not be its source. If you are considering a new spiritual home for yourself or your congregation, you might wish to check out (shameless plug!) the Reformed Evangelical Synod of America and speak with our Bishop.

20 October 2009

Review: "Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?"

Let me be honest about something up-front. I am too young to actually recall the United States Football League. For me, the only professional football I was aware of in the mid 1980's was the National Football League. I got whatever game was on CBS or NBC at the time, and I don't recall becoming aware of Monday Night Football on ABC until the year the Indianapolis Colts played the Denver Broncos in the Hoosier Dome on Halloween Night. My cable television did not have ESPN (my grandmother could only afford the most basic package we got), and even though USFL games were broadcast on ABC, I was probably too busy playing football in the middle of the spring to ever bother to notice that there was another football league on the tube.

Now, twenty-five years later, the USFL is often heralded as an 'ahead of its time' innovator in professional football, instituting the two-point conversion, instant replay on challenge, and other features now taken for granted by fans of the NFL. Like the American Football League, the USFL brought something new to the pro game that hadn't been seen before...

ESPN Films, as a part of their thirtieth anniversary celebration, aired Mike Tollin's documentary "Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?" tonight. The hour-long program was not aimed necessarily at those with an in-depth knowledge of the USFL or its ignominious fate, but at those football fans who, in 1987, probably didn't give the USFL a second glance. Detailed in the program are the origins of the spring league, insight from many of its great players (Herschel Walker, Jim Kelly, and Steve Young among them), and a basic-but-insightful overview of the league's legal battle with the NFL that ultimately secured its fate.

While the material covered isn't groundbreaking, it certainly puts a human face on an intriguing idea which has come and gone, and which, sadly, seems to have yet again come and gone in the demise of the Arena Football League, which is now in bankruptcy proceedings. On the whole, it was an interesting hour, and for those who love the game of football but know little of this portion of the history of the pro game, it is a rewarding watch.

For more information on the documentary:

One thing that is not mentioned in the documentary is an attempt on the part of some California businessmen to resurrect the USFL. I am not talking about the United Football League (UFL) which began play about two weeks ago, but something which seems to be attempting to recreate the original USFL model. Having watched a UFL game, I strongly doubt they will even finish their season.

For information on the 'new' USFL:

Welcome, Finns!

Just got home and pulled up the visitor stats... I have no idea why, but in the past few hours, I have seen quite the influx of Finnish visitors to the site. Welcome! Anyone care to tell me what has prompted your visit? I am excited that the appeal of this site may be a bit broader than I realized, but it just took me by surprise!

The Common Cup is Relatively Safe

As the fears surrounding H1N1 and the Flu Season again call into question the age-old Christian practice of using a common cup in the celebration of Holy Communion, I want to share a few words of wisdom from, of all places, the British secular government's health agency...

"Bacteriological experiments have shown that the occasional transmission of micro-organisms is unaffected by the alcoholic content of the wine, the constituent material of the cup or the practice of partially rotating it, but is appreciably reduced when a cloth is used to wipe the lip of the cup between communicants. Nevertheless, transmission does not necessarily imply inoculation or infection. Consideration of the epidemiology of micro-organisms that may be transmitted via saliva, particularly the herpes group of viruses, suggests that indirect transmission of infection is rare and in most instances a much greater opportunity exists for direct transmission by other means. There is substantial evidence that neither infection with hepatitis B virus nor HIV can be transmitted directly via saliva so that indirect transmission via inanimate objects is even less likely. ..Currently available data do not provide any support for suggesting that the practice of sharing a common communion cup should be abandoned because it might spread infection."

"The Hazard of Infection From the Shared Communion Cup"
Public Health Laboratory Service
Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre
London, U.K.

Rob+ adds: It is far more likley to get sick from allowing people to dip their own bread into the common cup than it is to drink from the common cup itself. If you are going to practice intinction, please ensure that communion ministers are trained in how to do so, and have very, very thuroughly washed their hands before distributing the Sacrament.

19 October 2009

My 2009 NFL "Favorites" Ranking

I've been asked by many people about my favorite NFL teams. Here's the list, ranging from favorite to least favorite.

My Favorite Teams

AFC - New England Patriots
NFC - New Orleans Saints

My Second Tier Favorites
AFC - San Diego Chargers
NFC - Arizona Cardinals

Likeable Teams / Teams I Want to Like
  • Miami Dolphins
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Houston Texans
  • Cleveland Browns*
  • Detroit Lions
*I like most of what Cleveland has to offer. I can’t stand Eric Mangini as coach.

Either Way Teams
  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Green Bay Packers
  • Seattle Seahawks
  • San Francisco 49ers
  • Minnesota Vikings
  • Denver Broncos
  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Cincinnati Bengals
  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Tennessee Titans
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Buffalo Bills
  • Chicago Bears
  • Carolina Panthers
Teams I Generally Despise

  • Saint Louis Rams
  • New York Giants
  • Washington Redskins
  • New York Jets
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Oakland Raiders

18 October 2009

Trinity XIX Homily

My homily for today is now posted at the Reformed Evangelical Synod of America's website. Click the link above to have a read!

Saints Win... Now, about those Patriots...

Well, the New Orleans Saints managed to blast the New York Giants back into the last decade... now it remains to be seen what the Patriots do with their game, which is being played in wet, sloppy snow and throwback uniforms. Sweet! This is what football is all about!

Welcome to StellarCross - Generation 4

Welcome to the new layout and format for StellarCross.org. I have been maintaining this site since 2002 across a couple of different platforms (AOL, an independent web-host, and Blogger), but it has always maintained a content centered on topics that carry my interest. All of my old posts will remain avaliable via Blogger, though I am still trying to figure out the best way to put them into place. I may eventually host them here, or I may leave them on the final iteration of the last StellarCross site and leave them be. Either way, the count starts fresh and I welcome you to continue to stop by to keep an eye on my thoughts and reflections on faith, space, and science fiction (among other things!).

Blessings to you and yours,

17 October 2009

Major Changes Ahead

As visitors may have recently noticed, I am significantly displeased with my Blogger template. Sadly, at the moment, I think there are a series of problems going back some ways (to when I migrated from a 3 column site to a 2 column site) that are adversely affecting site performance. Thus, I am going to start from scratch and transfer the StellarCross domain to a new blog in the coming days (or weeks, depending on how Clare affects the planning of said transfer). Please bear with me. This site and its contents will not disappear; it will remain available as a link on the new StellarCross.

13 October 2009

My Take on Health Care Reform

The way I see it, the viable options for health care reform are either Darwinian or Draconian. James T. Kirk, meet your no win scenario.

All original material (C) 2007-2010 by Father Robert Lyons.

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