Notes from the New Members Class at Megachurch USA

I attended the new members class with my wife. No, I won’t be joining, but if I’ll attend Catholic confirmation classes with a college girlfriend, I don’t see why I wouldn’t do this much.

Following are my (out-of-context) notes from the class, in the order they appear in the handout, which is not the order in which they were recorded. My thoughts (as noted) are in italics. Quotes are verbatim. Out of quotes generally a summary or paraphrase.

  • Brand New Class – Never Done Before
  • [Adam and Eve] 1st temptation “was pride.” –No. First sin is believing a lie.
  • [Underlined in quote of Saul of Tarsus], “Last of all as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” Terminal prophet claim.
  • “Good news is good news… because bad news comes first.”
  • “We are all born into sin.”
  • [Discussion of Gandhi] “Not here to tell you where Gandhi is today.” LOL!
  • Roman Road
  • Because of sin… “we are enemies of God.”
  • [Saddleback guy (another attendee) responds] : “Putin scares me.”
  • [paraphrased] “You can’t forgive somebody by yourself. You’ll eventually start to resent that person.”
  • “[God’s] plan has always been for God to glorify himself.”
  • “It would be appropriate for God to separate from us.”
  • [Jesus death] “is satisfaction of our debt to God.”
  • “What aspect [of this] leads you to a place of worship? Or does it?”
  • [bad paraphrase]: Lots of discussion of “sinner’s prayer” & no real re-orientation to Jesus –> transformation
  • “Moses and David” = “lesser men.” [edit: no, I’m not lying, he really said a man raised in Pharaoh’s household and a man that kills lions mostly unarmed are each “lesser men.”]
  • Saved by grace alone [edit: this was in regard to (erroneous) discussion of Catholic theology.]
  • “People w/ angry mad look haven’t accepted Christ.” -Saddleback guy.
  • “You are living according to the Spirit or you are living according to the flesh.” … “At the end of time, things of flesh are consumed.”
  • “True relationship to God through Jesus Christ.”
  • [From discussion of illustration] “Connection to God and to one another. Transformation of life. Multiplication.”
  • [quoted with applied underline] “Everything we teach and do at [this church] must be rooted in this Gospel message so that it may be faithfully shared by our people at home and across the world.”
  • [from faith statement] “…crucified under Pontius Pilate…” historical assertion.

That’s all, folks. Comments welcome.

Claim: Democracy creates climate change paralysis

For the NRx: this is what worries me about your salon.

Watts Up With That?

A new model for a greener democracy? A new model for a greener democracy?

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The Conversation has published yet another green attack on liberal democracy. According to The Conversation, Liberal democracy is old fashioned – it’s antiquated institutions produce climate change “paralysis”, which the authors suggest can be resolved, by transferring democratic powers to unelected panels of national and trans-national bureaucrats.

According to The Conversation;

… Specifically, the failure to tackle climate change speaks to an overall failure of our liberal democratic system…

… Successfully tackling climate change and other big policy challenges depends on making tangible the intangible crisis of liberal democracy.

It means understanding that liberal democracy’s governance machinery – and the static, siloed policy responses generated by such democracies – is no longer fit for purpose.

Read more:

Naturally The Conversation has a solution for this crisis. My favourite from their list of suggestions, is their idea…

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Analysis of Success

A little while back I began to wonder if any theologist has ever examined various religious beliefs side by side and sorted all the various religions (or Christian denominations) into groups according to beliefs, shared and opposed. Lately, I’ve also begun. To wonder if it would be possible to assess the effectiveness of various professed beliefs upon the success of religious organizations: total adherents, transmission to converts, transmission to successive generations, resistance to competing religious thoughts, correlations with violence, wealth accumulation, genetic drift, migration, and other measures of strength and fragility.

My thoughts on these matters generally fall into the notion that most religious (meaning non-evidentiary) claims may be assessed as either affirmed, denied, or neutral (which may perhaps be subdivided into unknowable, unknown, and irrelevant). For instance, was Judas hair red? Yes, no, we can’t know, we don’t know, it doesn’t matter. It would be a fairly straight-forward exercise to begin cataloging various religious claims and then mapping these onto a measurable outcomes.

For example, I consider advocacy for no-fault divorce to be a religious claim. “Married couples ought be permitted divorce without proving one spouse or both spouses breached the marriage contract,” carries more consequence than, “No-fault divorce is better/worse for society.” One must assess what constitutes “worse,” and for whom “worse” matters. I do not think myself presumptive to say most reading what I write would conclude that women generally think no-fault divorce favors women, but in reality marriage favors women and no-fault divorce favors men, specifically, men willing to break ties with a former wife & family and start anew.

One can relatively easily investigate the impact no-fault divorce has upon the demographics of several countries and compare these results with results of strict at-fault divorce elsewhere. Some comparisons would be difficult: Saudi Arabia and the USA are both, technically, no-fault divorce nations. So any analysis would need to tread carefully to define terms.

Still, there are some questions which may be rapidly assessed: infant baptism, alcohol consumption, contraception, dietary restrictions, prayer and fasting traditions, evangelism, to name a few.

Why am I asking these questions? For a while now, folks have begun asking the question, “How is an ideal religion constructed?” Many of you assess this question as blasphemous, and I can comprehend how you would come to that conclusion. Your deity has provided to your religion’s founders revealed truth about the nature of the universe, our place in it, and how we should live. To pause and examine this revealed truth is to deny the credibility of that truth. However, please hang with me just a few moments more.

Let’s all presume for a moment that the universe is writ by deity. Its compass is already established: beginning to end, through time and space and any other indiscernible dimensions we cannot comprehend. Within that universe lies deity’s plan for reality. If we diverge from the plan set by deity, we will naturally meet resistance and poor or disastrous results – especially so as we examine ever larger frames of time. Given sufficient effort, and a presumably benevolent deity, one can confidently test hypotheses and develop theories regarding the intention of deity for human life. Do “such-and-so” thing and eventually reality responds with reward or punishment according to the will of deity to reward or punish obedience (shall we say advancement?) or transgression (regression).

If I am not mistaken with my assumptions, then men may test reality for the will of deity, and finding reality rewarding, test further, mindful that some hypotheses may take generations to develop into theory. What’s more, this method is open to all men regardless of history, geography, or culture. This, I think, overcomes the dilemma faced by several religions regarding the fate of those ignorant, while simultaneously opening every religious claim of every religion to scientific examination of claims regarding righteous living.

So, the question is this: which beliefs we hold help us and which hinder us?

Nobody Wants to be King

I spoke with a client about an hour ago. After stewing on the design of a floor for several days, I’ve finally decided the best solution is to change the framing system from a structural steel frame with a concrete floor on a composite steel deck to a light gauge metal truss frame with a thinner concrete floor on a form deck. So, I send an email to my client, the architect, asking that he call me.

Long story short, this puts in motion a set of discussions with a construction contractor / construction manager regarding the cost implications of the proposed system, and it probably sets me to work all weekend at the office making this work. Since this is the wife’s Christian retreat weekend, that means the boy will get his wish and be playing Minecraft much of Saturday while I redesign, reengineer, and redraw a portion of the building. Assuming the monarch approves the change.

This time around, there are two monarchs: the architect and the construction contractor. I’m just the wizard, which is the function I usually serve in these encounters. The two monarchs will confer regarding costs and advantages, weigh their experience with my counsel, and make a decision. As is common among wizards, I can prognosticate the outcome fairly well based on previous outcomes. Cost and ease of construction will drive the discussion to the same conclusion I’ve already reached. If I thought the outcome would be different – my recommendation would be ignored – then I wouldn’t probably voice it with the two monarchs who, in this particular instance, I trust.

This is the essence of aristocracy and monarchy that so many advocates of polling-managed mob-rule overlook: trust. Nobody really trusts the mob, and once the mob votes with either ballots or baseball bats, reasoned discussions cease because “the people have spoken.” On the other hand, if you lie and work in an environment where the aristocrats are sorted by environmental conditions that select for effective decision-making, you may rely upon those decision-makers to accurately predict outcomes within an acceptable margin of error. Keen observation of an aristocrats servants and vassals also provides a good measure of the treatment his underlings can expect. So, a good lord protects himself and his kith from aliens and provides for the welfare of kin and kith. And if you’re a wizard, like I am, you go and offer your services to such lords, and hope the blood doesn’t thin in his scions.

What you don’t want – what nobody wants – is the obligations of a lord. Such men must, with every potential retainer, assess loyalty, and with every dependent, consider a man’s long-term welfare. The aristocrat is obligated not just to himself, and not just to his family, but to every man dependent upon him for a good livelihood above rough living and homelessness. When the scion is ready, retirement to sport and gardening is a relief.

And some few of us wizards just want a few more years alone in our towers until our own obligation to assume a father’s lordship ends carefree hours tinkering with the fabric of reality.

Management Fail

Stream of consciousness with quotes. Deal with it,

Some recent writings on management give the impression that their authors consider management to be an invention of the years since World War II, and an American invention at that. True, before World War II, interest and study of management was confined to small groups – the popular interest in management as a discipline and a field of study is fairly recent. But management, both as a practice and as a field of study, has a respectable history, in many different countries, going back almost two centuries.

When the early economists – from Adam Smith (1723-1790) to Karl Marx (1818-1883) did their work, management did not exist. To them, the economy was impersonal and governed by objective economic forces. As a modern spokesman for the classical tradition, the Anglo-American Kenneth Boulding (1910-1993), phrased it: “Economics deals with the behavior of men.” Or, as with Marx, impersonal laws of history were seen to dominate. Humanity can only adapt. It can, at best, optimize what the economy makes possible; at worst, it impedes the forces of the economy and wastes resources. The last of the great English classical economists, Alfred Marshall (1842-1924), did add management to the factors of production, land, labor, and capital. But this was a half-hearted concession. Management was still not a central factor.

From the beginning there was, however, a different approach that put the manager into the center of the economy and stressed the managerial task of making resources productive. J. B. Say (1767-1832), the brilliant French economist, was an early follower of Adam Smith. But in his own words, the pivot is not the factors of production. It is the entrepreneur – a word Say coined – who directs resources from less productive into more productive investments and who thereby creates wealth. Say was followed by the “utopian socialists” of French tradition, notably François Fourier (1772-1837) and that eccentric genius Comte de Saint-Simon (1760-1825). At that time there were no large organizations and no managers, but both Fourier and Saint-Simon anticipated developments and “discovered” management before it actually came into being. Saint-Simon, in particular, saw the emergence of organization. And he saw the task of making resources productive and of building social structures. He saw managerial tasks.

It is for their stress on management as a separate and distinct force, and one that can act independently of the factors of production as well as the laws of history, that Marx vehemently denounced the French. But it is the French – and above all Saint-Simon – who, in effect, laid down the basic approaches and the basic concepts on which every socialist economy has actually been designed. No matter how much the socialists today invoke the name of Marx, their spiritual ancestor is Saint-Simon.

Peter Drucker, from Management, Chapter 1

We have in our society today a failure to comprehend management as a practice, a profession.

A few years into the [Google’s] life, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin actually wondered whether Google needed any managers at all. In 2002 they experimented with a completely flat organization, eliminating engineering managers in an effort to break down barriers to rapid idea development and to replicate the collegial environment they’d enjoyed in graduate school. That experiment lasted only a few months: They relented when too many people went directly to Page with questions about expense reports, interpersonal conflicts, and other nitty-gritty issues. And as the company grew, the founders soon realized that managers contributed in many other, important ways—for instance, by communicating strategy, helping employees prioritize projects, facilitating collaboration, supporting career development, and ensuring that processes and systems aligned with company goals.

Google downplays hierarchy and emphasizes the power of the individual in its recruitment efforts, as well, to achieve the right cultural fit. …People who make that first cut are then carefully assessed for initiative, flexibility, collaborative spirit, evidence of being well-rounded, and other factors that make a candidate “Googley.”

So here’s the challenge Google faced: If your highly skilled, handpicked hires don’t value management, how can you run the place effectively? …You use data to test your assumptions about management’s merits and then make your case.

To find the answer, Google launched Project Oxygen, a multiyear research initiative. It has since grown into a comprehensive program that measures key management behaviors and cultivates them through communication and training. By November 2012, employees had widely adopted the program—and the company had shown statistically significant improvements in multiple areas of managerial effectiveness and performance.

…managing remains understudied and under[-]taught—largely because it’s so difficult to describe, precisely and concretely, what managers actually do. …Project Oxygen, in contrast, was designed to offer granular, hands-on guidance. It didn’t just identify desirable management traits in the abstract; it pinpointed specific, measurable behaviors that brought those traits to life.

[Research described]

In light of this research, the Project Oxygen team concluded that managers indeed mattered. But to act on that finding, Google first had to figure out what its best managers did. …It took several months to code and process all this information.

After much review, Oxygen identified eight behaviors shared by high-scoring managers. …Even though the behaviors weren’t terribly surprising, Patel’s colead, Michelle Donovan, says, “we hoped that the list would resonate because it was based on Google data. The attributes were about us, by us, and for us.”

-David A Garvin, Harvard Business Review, December 2013.

Google discovered these manager qualities.

  1. Is a good coach
  2. Empowers the team and does not micromanage (See the sidebar “How Google Defines One Key Behavior”)
  3. Expresses interest in and concern for team members’ success and personal well-being
  4. Is productive and results-oriented
  5. Is a good communicator—listens and shares information
  6. Helps with career development
  7. Has a clear vision and strategy for the team
  8. Has key technical skills that help him or her advise the team

Meanwhile, back at Drucker’s Management, chapter 22,

Henry Ford, starting with nothing in 1905, had fifteen years later built the world’s largest and most profitable manufacturing enterprise. The Ford Motor Company, in the early 1920s, dominated and almost monopolized the American automobile markets of the world. In addition, it had amassed, out of profits, cash reserves of a billion dollars or so.

Yet only a few years later, by 1927, this seemingly impregnable business empire was in shambles. Having lost it’s leadership position and barely a poor third in the market, it lost money almost every year for twenty years or so, and remained unable to compete vigorously right through World War II. IN 1944, the founder’s grandson, Henry Ford II, then only twenty-sic years old and without training or experience, took over, then two years later ousted his grandfather’s cronies in a palace coup, brought in a totally new management team, and saved the company.

It is not commonly realized that this dramatic story is far more than a story of personal success and failure. It is, above all, what one might call a controlled experiment in mismanagement.

The first Ford failed because of his firm belief that a business did not need managers and management. All it needed, he believed, was the owner-entrepreneur with his “helpers.” The only difference between Ford and most of his contemporaries in business was that, as in everything he did, Henry Ford stuck uncompromisingly to his convictions. He applied them very strictly, firing or sidelining any one of his “helpers,” no matter how able, who dared to act as a “manager,” make a decision, or take action without orders from Ford. the way he applied his theory can only be described as a test, one that ended up by fully disproving Ford’s theory.

In fact, what makes the Ford Story unique and important is that Ford could test the hypothesis. this was possible in part because he lived so long and in part because he had a billion dollars to back his convictions. Ford’s failure was not the result of personality or temperament. It was first and foremost the result of his refusal to accept managers and management as necessary, as a necessity based on task and function rather than “delegation” from the “boss.”

So, what does Drucker know about managers from these and other lessons, way back in 1973? [keyed to Google]

[1] But the objective of the manager who heads the units include what he himself has to do to help subordinates attain their objectives… Seeing his relationship toward them as a duty toward them and as a responsibility for making them perform and achieve that than as “supervision” is a central requirement for organizing the manager’s unit effectively.

[2] With knowledge work, however, what to do becomes the first and decisive question. For knowledge workers are not programmed by the machine or by the weather. They largely are in control of their own tasks and must be in control of their own tasks.

[3&6] At that time, none of the nine management people in one key division were found to be competent to take on new jobs created in the course of the reorganization… Yet, for these nine men, jobs as technicians and experts were found within the organization. It would have been easy to fire them…

[4] A management that wants to create and maintain the spirit of achievement therefore stresses opportunity. But it will also demand that opportunities be converted into results.

Managing is a specific work. As such, it requires specific skills. Among them are the abilities of…

  • [5] communicating within and without the organization

[7] The foundation of effective leadership is first, thinking through the organization’s mission, defining it and establishing it, clearly and visibly.

[8] …picking managers to head a professional organization is often a high-risk venture. Professionals such as engineers do not readily accept as their boss someone whose credentials in the field they do not respect. Yet a successful engineer does not necessarily make a successful manager of engineers.

So, Google initiated a multi-year research initiative to discover what Drucker knew in the 1970’s. An experiment they can afford. At least for the time being.

Why tteclod is not an Episcopalian

No comment box at the Vulture’s place, so…

1. Please edit the quotes so the biblical stuff doesn’t meld seamlessly with the stuff I wrote. There’s a difference in quality that may not be readily apparent.
2. I hoped to find in the Episcopal church some so-called authenticity which seemed lacking among Baptists. What I found, after scraping away the façade, was dry-rot (apologetics) and termites (faggots).
3. I am (obviously) not satisfied with sacraments, else I may have moved to Catholicism after leaving the Episcopal church.
4. Finally, my opinions regarding Christianity are my own, and certainly do not reflect a departure from the Episcopal church alone.

Now, I really ought get back to work. These so-called value engineering revisions seem more daunting than they first appeared.

vulture of critique

tteclod wrote:

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “[Papa!]” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

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Calling all supporters of Dr. Willie Soon

Watts Up With That?

By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, David Legates and Matt Briggs

Willie Soon

The three of us are Willie Soon’s friends and colleagues. With him we co-authored the paper Why models run hot (, January 2015). We are asking all friends and supporters of Willie to come to his aid by agreeing to sign the following letter to the Regents of the Smithsonian, which has employed him for 25 years.

The letter covers a report by us to the Regents giving the findings of our investigation into the allegations against Willie that the Smithsonian, echoing various political advocacy groups, had widely and improperly circulated. Our investigation concludes that the Smithsonian is gravely at fault on numerous grounds, and that Willie is blameless. Our letter invites the Regents to ensure that the Smithsonian investigates the wrongdoing by the Smithsonian and its senior officials identified in our report, and, when they have confirmed that our…

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Being old is not an excuse to be fat, lazy, and scantily-clad

Thank you.


Now when I was reading about cons and the wild parties there, back in the old days that was a principle thing that made me want to attend. It is no longer. A couple of the older guests were reminiscing about the wild parties and nudity of the old days. It isn’t going to happen unless we bring back the interest of the young people. To be honest with you, had most of the people I saw there disrobed I would have left. You need young people for skimpy outfits and nudity to work. Lets be honest, if you are over 40 and can still take your clothes off to appreciation of the opposite sex they either are very drunk or you are going immediately into something more personal than a party. The skimpy clothing still exists, you just have to have more than the staid old folks of…

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