Thursday, March 31, 2005

A Tale of a Local Wonderwoman
from the Dayton Daily News

KETTERING | Reality TV's Survivor and The Amazing Race have nothing on Debbie Coleman's incredible feat.

It all started early Tuesday, just after midnight, at the CitGo All-In-1 service station on James H. McGee Boulevard, when a woman ran inside the store and told part-owner Lloyd Goff a customer was in labor at Pump 7.

Goff, 33, ran to assist Coleman, who was sitting in her 1984 silver Chevy van. The driver's door was open and inside was Coleman, 34, in obvious pain. She was on her way to Kettering Memorial Hospital from her home in Trotwood.

"I asked if she needed help," Goff said, "and she just leaned back in the seat, hollered a little, and I looked down and there was the baby's head."

Goff called 911, but before a medic could arrive, "(Coleman) threw her leg over the steering wheel, groaned once, and the rest of the baby came out. She caught that baby, put it to her chest, gave me a look, like, 'I gotta go,' closed the door, put the van in gear and away she went."

Goff, who watched his own son's birth and cut the umbilical cord, said, "That was nothing like this. This was amazing."

Somehow, Coleman, undressed from the waist down and with the baby still attached by his umbilical cord, held the newborn in the crook of her left arm, and steered with her right hand as she slowly navigated the roughly 7-mile, 15-minute drive from the filling station in West Dayton onto U.S. 35 East and Interstate 75 South, then exited on Springboro Pike.

Daughters Erin, 4, and Elaine, 3, were in the van, but they slept through the entire ordeal.

Here's where it gets weird.

Dayton police were dispatched after a driver at the gas station called and was following the van to make sure Coleman was OK. They somehow got the wrong license plate number on Coleman's van, and it came back stolen.

Moraine police were called and were told the van was approaching from Spingboro Pike onto West Dorothy Lane.

Their officers followed the van, now with a corrected license plate registered to Coleman. But there had been reports that while on U.S. 35, the driver was erroneously thought to be attempting to throw a baby from the van.

Coleman, who had wrapped her jacket over the baby now nestled to her bosom, said she noticed as many as four police cruisers "busted a U-ie" and were following her. "I kept pulling over, making sure (the baby) was all right, breathing," she said.

Officers "activated our emergency lights in the area of West Dorothy Lane and Governors Place," according to the police report Moraine police filed. "The van wouldn't stop and continued traveling east." Sirens were turned on and Coleman continued, traveling about 30 mph, according to the report.

"I saw the little blue sign" at Southern Boulevard, Coleman said, and she turned on her signal. Cruisers surrounded her, she said, "and I heard, 'Get out of the car now with your hands up' and their guns were drawn. I opened the door and said, 'I just had a baby' and just let them see everything. I thought, what if they stop me for fleeing and eluding?"

Moraine police Sgt. Chris Selby said when Coleman opened the door, he could see the baby still had part of the placenta on its head, "and I'd seen both my kids born, but I said, 'What the hell?' "

According to the police report, Coleman "apologized and asked if she was in trouble," before officers quickly flagged her on, advising Kettering Memorial Hospital by radio that she was near and in need of emergency treatment.

The hospital released Coleman on Wednesday. Her son, Richard Lee Coleman Jr., who weighed in at 6 pounds, 8 ounces, remains in intensive care. Her husband, Richard Lee Coleman Sr., was joined at the hospital by the couple's daughter, Elon, 8, and Debbie Coleman's 13-year-old son, Earl.

The Colemans said Good Samaritan or Miami Valley hospitals would have been much closer for the birth, but neither accepts Blue Cross/Blue Shield/Anthem insurance, which is what the couple carry.

According to Nancy Thickel, Miami Valley Hospital's director of communications, Coleman could have gone to either hospital through an arrangement for already established patients who were due to give birth through June 30.

"We would have loved to have taken care of her," Thickel said, noting that Anthem patients can use the hospital's services in any medical emergency situation.

"She needs the mother of the year award," Thickel said.

Selby said, "In 10 years of doing this, it's nothing I've come across before. It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It was just good nobody got hurt. It's hard to believe she could do that while driving. It's just amazing."

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Islam's New Golden Age

Now that I'm able to spend most workdays doing research for my graduation paper on the future of Islam, some potentially novel thoughts are crossing my mind.

Many in the Muslim world long for a return to the Golden Age (roughly 750 to 1050 AD) when Islamic scholars led the world in science and technology. As the respected Islamic expert Bernard Lewis explains in his book What Went Wrong?, the Muslim Empire inherited "the knowledge and skills of the ancient Middle east, of Greece and of Persia, and it added to them new and important innovations from outside, such as the manufacture of paper from China and decimal positional numbering from India."

There are parallels between Islam’s Golden Age and what is now becoming its Information Age. Once again, leaders in the Islamic world (the guys we call terrorists) are innovating with technology in ways uniquely advantageous to their objectives. In the Golden Age it was paper and decimals, now it is video cameras and IP addresses.

Many Islamic terrorist groups have accomplished what our own military has been trying to do for years -- move away from formal, hierarchal organizations to a loose networks of individuals and subgroups that have strategic guidance but, nonetheless, enjoy tactical independence. The Islamists are employing net-centric warfare, the brain-child of the U.S. military, before we can get it off the drawing board.

In the first Golden Age Islam adapted the technology of those they conquered to their unique advantage. In the Information Age, they may be doing it again.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Terri Schiavo and our Moral Confusion

Here are some excerpts of Ken Myer's thoughts on the Terri Schiavo tragedy.

Patients that are dependent on feeding tubes are not dying. And, despite the sloppy way we sometimes talk about these matters, you cannot 'let die' a person who is not dying.

I doubt that a parent who withheld food and water from their children, or a warden who withheld food and water from a prisoner, could be excused from culpability on the grounds that they were simply allowing someone to die. In none of these cases, including Terri Schiavo's, is there a dying person, just a dependent one.

In watching and reading the news coverage of Terri Schiavo's case, I can't remember hearing the word "euthanasia" once. And yet it should be clear that by withdrawing food and water from her, she is euthanized, not simply being "allowed to die."

Once we cross the boundary between killing and allowing to die, there will be no turning back. Current proposals would legalize euthanasia only for the terminally ill. But the logic of the argument—and its practical consequences—will inevitably push us further.

The real lesson of the Schiavo case is not that we all need living wills; it is that our dignity does not reside in our will alone, and that it is foolish to believe that the competent person I am now can establish, in advance, how I should be cared for if I become incapacitated and incompetent. The real lesson is that we are not mere creatures of the will: We still possess dignity and rights even when our capacity to make free choices is gone; and we do not possess the right to demand that others treat us as less worthy of care than we really are.

Read the whole article here.

The following interviews (on MP3) are available for listening or downloading (for free):

Nigel Cameron on the obstacles and opportunities facing Christians concerned about bioethics

Russell Hittinger on the reasoning behind the upholding of a right to physician-assisted suicide in Compassion in Dying v. Washington

Hadley Arkes on how the defense in the courts of the "right to privacy" has transformed thinking about law and rights in American society

C. Ben Mitchell, on why and how the Church should be more welcoming toward the elderly

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Resurrection Day 2005

We enjoyed a triumphant, majestic service this morning; complete with stirring choral performances of the Hallelujah Chorus and the Te Deum. And the service was not without bold preaching; the kind that takes courage.

Here's part of today's sermon.

This is the Festival of hope but I fear that we, the believers who live in this marvelous land of plenty have had our hope diluted and diverted.

The one true hope of resurrection is diluted by the many hopes our good land offers. Some of you hope for a good education which you hope leads to a good life, a life of plenty. Some of you hope for a bigger better income which is the gateway to hope for a bigger better home, bigger better vacations, and bigger better toys. The one hope, the Christian hope, is diluted by the deluge of hoax hopes that are offered to us in this good land of ours. These are in fact no hope at all because as soon as you have that hoax hope you hoped for, you begin hunting for the next hope. You are never satisfied. The hoax hopes are mirages. You think they will offer refreshment but you no sooner get to where the mirage was than you begin searching for the next because it was only a mirage hope.

When I visit with the sick and shut in, I find myself increasingly focusing on the hope of resurrection and I find myself increasingly bold to remind folks that our hope is not another doctor, another pill, another devise that will somehow keep us alive a little longer and a little better. I am weary of hearing “I hope the doctor will have some good news.” “I hope this new medication will do the job.” “I hope this therapy will help me do what I use to do.”

All such hopes dilute the one true hope and divert us from the one true hope the bodily resurrection of the dead. I know that we say such thing innocently enough but what a testimony when God’s people can open their lips and say what Job said, "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God," (Job 19:25-26, ESV)

Today, you see the Firstfruits of the dead; you see Jesus alive. His resurrection is the sure hope that all who believe and are baptized in His Name will likewise be raised from the dead and be alive forever in heaven.

It's not often that I find a preacher courageous enough to say tough things; the very things that the people of his flock really need to hear.
Our Incredible Easter Family Photo

Wanna guess what movie we saw recently?

Friday, March 25, 2005

The Spirituality of the Cross

I zipped through this little book by Gene Edward Veith, Jr. It's an explanation of Lutheranism in its best light, presented at the layman's level. Now that I've read about Lutheranism at its best, I'd like to balance out the view some by reading an account of a reformed writer (preferably a pastor) that was once a Lutheran. I don't know of any at this point.

One of the unfortunate discoveries I've made since attending a Lutheran church is how different Christian groups misrepresent each other. What little I had picked up about Lutheranism before attending here has proven to be largely false, and I expect some day I'll hear a Lutheran mischaracterize Calvinists. If I'm ever given the opportunity to speak about other Christian traditions, I'll now be more careful in what I say.

"the way of the first evangelicals..."
Smiling Faces....Beautiful Places

Yesterday we returned from a quick, but enjoyable, trip back home. I'm from the northwest corner of South Carolina, a land of lakes nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Kristin is from L.A. (that's Lower Alabama) but her folks have since moved to Birmingham. We were able to visit with her parents, sister and son, and my parents, brother, an aunt, an uncle, and a cousin!

It's a real joy to be part of an extended family that makes the most of the rare opportunities we have to get home.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Lack of Courage?

I've read the latest concerning Terri Schiavo; a dark day for our nation. Terri's parents were removed from the room before the tube was pulled. Who could escort a father away from his own child right when she needs him the most? Why not just refuse to do it and be fired? The same goes for the health care staff who actually pulled the tube. Where's their backbone?
Vocation Conference

I've been looking forward to tomorrow for a while. WORLD magazine's cultural editor, Gene Edward Veith, Jr., will be in town for the Spring Reformation conference.

Both the speaker and the conference are remarkable. Dr. Veith defines prolific; I'm told at one point he had 11 books in print at the same time! He's been described by some as "today's Francis Schaeffer". He'll be speaking to us on the reformation doctrine of vocation.

The conference is pretty remarkable, too. It's put on by a Orthodox Presbyterian church in town and Dr. Veith is a Lutheran, making this conference a good example of an ecumenical event.

the conference

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Prayer for our Leaders

Many of us are in prayer for Terri. Pray also for our rulers. That Judge Greer will relent. That our legislators and president will do more than give lip service. Pray especially for wisdom and courage for her family.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

I'm starting my final term here at school, so I need to buckle down and write my mini-thesis on Shaping Radical Islam. This provided a good excuse to read Peter Leithart's article, Mirror of Christendom; the rest of this post is a loose quote of that article.

According to Pastor Leithart, God raised up Islam to be a mirror of modern Christianity. We need to take a good look at the face in the mirror, and not ignore the warts.

Islam has always understood itself not merely as a religion but as a civilization.

Islamic universities seek to understand the whole of human knowledge from the perspective of Islam, political and legal practices are shaped by the shari’a, everything that surrounds a Muslim reinforces his faith.

Islam’s all-embracing vision is a rebuke to modern Christianity.

Once upon a time, Christians saw their faith as equally all-embracing. Theologians attempted to make sense of the latest scientific and philosophical findings from the viewpoint of Christian faith; kings and leaders recognized there was a King to whom they were accountable; even monks were adventurers and builders of cities. That vision has all but evaporated in modern Christianity.

Until Islam's grip on culture is damaged or destroyed, it seems unlikely that the Church will be able to make much progress among Islamic peoples.

However, several trends suggest that there is some hope for progress. The fact that millions of Muslims are now living in the West gives Christians an unprecedented opportunity for mission, since we now deal with Muslims outside the reinforcing cultural and political apparatus of Islam. And for all the evils of Western pop culture, perhaps the Lord will use its global spread in a similar way. We may someday have to deal with cheerful Arab nihilists rather than grim Arab terrorists, in other words, with Arabs who are more like our unbelieving neighbors.
For Your Listening Pleasure

Mars Hill Audio is now making their "CD bonus" interviews available for free here.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

How to Hear a Sermon

I have another good audio series to recommend. PCA pastor Robert Rayburn gave these lectures on the ministry of the pulpit to the students of Covenant Theological Seminary about 10 years ago.

He covers a lot of ground, including some topics that are seldom discussed like the benefits of having the same pastor for many years. Similarly, he corrects the common view that "the priesthood of all believers" negates the special office of the pastor.

In a lecture on "Preaching as Mystical Event" he explains the reformation understanding that it is through faithful preaching (not "quiet time", etc) that we most often and most powerfully hear the voice of God. New to me was the idea of "preaching the poles", where he exhorts pastors to preach the tensions of Scripture. For instance if the text for that week includes Christ's statement that He will judge us based on the good or bad that we have done, do not give into the temptation to work justification by faith alone into the sermon. If that confuses you, listen to the lecture to get a whole idea.

What struck me the most was a survey he mentioned where several hundred PCA pastors were asked what Books of the Bible they had preached from in the last three years. Something like 95% had preached from the Gospel of John, and only a small portion had been in the Old Testament at all. Pastor Rayburn powerfully pointed out that the Canon of the PCA has gotten much smaller. This is largely due to pastors who switch pulpits frequently and the loss of the second service on the Lord's Day.

Thanks to Pastor Mark Horne for the link.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Adoption Update:

We received a copy of the medical records for the little girl in San Antonio. We reviewed them today with our pediatrician to get a better understanding of this child's special needs. I have made the decision that our family is not ready to provide the level of care that this precious child is expected to require.

The good news is that another family is interested in the child.

We still intend to adopt a child, and hope that now we will be better prepared to consider other special needs children in the future.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Adoption Update

As you may know, we have been praying to adopt a baby girl for several months. Yesterday we received word of a newborn baby girl in San Antonio. She has some serious special needs.

We believe that God hears our prayer and answers in the way He knows best. This baby may be God's answer to our prayers, and so we are reluctant to say "no" simply because she has medical problems. We are pursuing the adoption while trusting that the Lord will prevent it if it's not His plan. Also, if this is the child for us then we trust that He will not give us more than we can handle.

If this adoption goes forward we would most likely pick her up next week.

I believe this to be the most serious decision that Kristin and I have made since our marriage. We would appreciate your prayer.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Pure Unadulterated Speculation on Dreams

I've been haunted by dreams lately. Maybe because its finals week (again). But none of the dreams deal with failing tests, or even cheating on them. They're much worse than that. They're so full of sin that I wake up feeling guilty and dreading the consequences. And then I slowly realize that I haven't done it.

Dreams like this are helpful warnings. You feel the dreadful weight of guilt and see sin's wrecking power before you actually do it. While temptation may appear attractive at the time, I know how she looks in the morning.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

3 Good Things About Blogs

Having finished one take-home final this evening, I surfed around the blogosphere as a means of procastinating before attacking a second one. At first I looked here, since I'm from the Clemson, South Carolina area, and quickly felt puny. Here's another super well-read, articulate, reformed guy who also can run a mean marathon. Kinda like this guy.

Point 1: Blogs are good at feeding a desire to read more and better stuff. I don't have to look far to find others who are able to. I have no excuse not to.

Kristin has enjoyed reading this blog for a while. I noticed her blog-award and looked at the winners in the other categories. I enjoyed a visit to the website of the best blogging pastor; I could tell I'd like this guy. After digging around for quite a while I discovered he's PCUSA.

Point 2: I would never consider looking for a good pastor or church in the PCUSA. Now I have to reconsider whether that judgment is simply too condemning. Blogs are good for expanding your circle of friends.

Since ever military man is trained in trinitarian thinking (i.e. 3 points to every brief), here's a last thought for the night. There are an amazing number of really interesting blogs out there.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Religious Urban Legends

A few months ago Kristin hit it off with another homeschooling military family. The ladies eventually got around to talking about church preferences and Kristin's new friend was surprised to hear that our background is Presbyterian. With a repugnant expression she said, "don't they believe in predestination?" My wife replied in the affirmative. The other lady replied with exasperation, "but don't you believe in evangelism?!?"

This misperception came up again today. A friend of mine who recently discovered the doctrines of grace met with his Southern Baptist pastor to discuss matters. The pastor said he's leery of Calvinism because it's bad for evangelism.

A pastor (especially one in the reforming SBC) should know better. Doesn't he know that many of the greatest missionaries were Calvinists? Pioneer missionary, and Baptist, William Carey was a Calvinist for crying out loud! What inspired the determination to plant the Gospel in every nation on earth? Calvinism.

Calvin himself, while ministering in France, also sponsored missions throughout Europe and even as far afield as Brazil.

No more of this nonsense. Calvinists have a confidence in evangelism that others cannot. We know the Gospel is the power of God (not our presentation, or their intelligence, etc), and that some, by His grace, will respond.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Jammy Rides

In what was likely a hypocritical combination of events, tonight after the Lenten service we surprised the children and went out for doughnuts. The basic idea comes from this article. In the Wilson household after the children were tucked in their beds, songs sung, and lights turned off, the Wilson parents would occasionally stand by the front door and holler "JAMMY RIDE!!!". These magic words brought children tumbling out of their beds like Christmas morning! Then into the back seat of the car they would scramble, and off they would go for an ice cream surprise.

It's too cold for ice cream here, but fresh and hot Krispy Kremes made a great substitute. We also didn't bother with the jammies this time, but it was after bedtime and that's reason enough to excite a kid.

Here we are just back from our first jammy ride.