Erasing bad memories

Scientists are developing drug treatments that would erase bad memories. See this article. So far, the experiments hardly match the hype. But what if that could be done? Would that be good or bad? Would it damage our very identity?

The census controversy

Thanks to Don S for pointing out the connection between Sen. Judd Gregg’s withdrawal as Commerce Secretary nominee and the Obama administration’s attempt to take over how the census will be conducted. Democrats have been wanting to use computer models to establish population numbers in an effort to boost the number of minority groups, claiming that the actual ennumeration specified in the Constitution misses those core constituency groups. From Census battle intensifies; GOP leader threatens lawsuit:

Minority groups, quietly encouraged by Democrats, led a charge in 2000 to challenge the census, urging that statistical sampling and computer models – not the head-count “actual enumeration” mandated by the Constitution – should be employed. That despite a 1999 Supreme Court ruling that sampling could not be used to apportion congressional seats.

“Adjusting is statistical abstraction or extrapolation that gives a select few the ability to go in after the count is done in the census and adjust the numbers and adjust the numbers in ways they see and deem fit,” said Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, North Carolina Republican and ranking member on the census subcommittee.

The Republicans went so far as to threaten to file a lawsuit if the White House steps too far into how the 2010 census is conducted and counted. If the president does not relent, “we would seek the court, because ultimately I don’t think there’s any question among the federal court, about whether or not this is a personal power of the presidency, or in fact whether or not executive privilege would be waived if he starts doing functions like this,” Mr. Issa said.

The attempt to use computers rather than counting is another example–like giving the District of Columbia representation in Congress–of a jaw-dropping, oath-violating indifference to the plain text of the Constitution!

New and Improved Cranach blog crashes in flames

We were down for much of yesterday due to the main server being attacked by a virus. This had nothing to do with our installing our new software and bells and whistles! The conjunction in time was just a coincidence. It was not Stewart’s fault!

Ash Wednesday & the beginning of Lent

Have a blessed Ash Wednesday.

Imposition of Ashes

You hate nothing you have made

I love the traditional Collect for Ash Wednesday :

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Pray this today.

Fasting reconsidered

Among Christians who observe Lent, the conventional wisdom today is that we shouldn’t just give up things. Rather, we should do something positive, a program of good deeds to boost our moral and spiritual lives. I disagree. I think we should give up things.

Speaking for myself, I need to practice self-denial. I am way too self-indulgent.I need to discipline myself, say “no” to myself. I need to beat down my flesh and get it under control. My best Lents, as far as spiritual growth, have been when I have fasted. Being hungry, yet refusing to eat what I want, has been very beneficial to someone as food-oriented as I am.

Fasting has absolutely no spiritual or moral merit, I hasten to say, and I’m not recommending it for everyone. (I just destroyed any possible merit by telling you about it!) I’m just saying that it is an ancient custom that can be good for a person, especially in these times of unrestrained appetites of every kind.

When I was younger, I indulged in elaborate fasts–eating nothing on Fridays, doing without food from Good Friday to Easter, one year giving up carbs and losing 20 pounds–but now that I’m in my dotage, doing without food completely just makes me sick and incapacitated. So I’m just going to try denying myself in small ways: eating one sandwich instead of two, smaller portions, passing on desert, just cutting back. It will be more like a Lenten diet than a Lenten fast. I’ll even throw in exercising on the treadmill as a way to mortify my flesh. (Some might say that is doing something positive, but it isn’t for me). I’ll fall off the wagon and indulge myself occasionally, but still, I’m going to try, and every little struggle will remind me of Christ and my need of Him.

But we can also fast other things besides food. One year when our children were at home and young, we did without TV all during Lent. It was a wonderful, meaningful time for all of us, doing family things instead and talking about this discipline. Do an internet fast like our blog comrade Bror Erickson (perhaps giving yourself dispensation to read this blog!). Or an entertainment fast. Shopping fast. Sex fast (but only if both spouses agree [1 Corinthians 7:5]).

Find something you like and don’t do it for 40 days. Just say no to yourself. It will do you good.

It also heightens the joy of Easter when you can start doing it again!

Have any of you had salutary experiences from giving up something?