Wednesday, October 18, 2006

About Your Health Insurance

I am seriously thinking about changing my health insurance from Guidestone's Health Choice 1000 plan to their Health Saver 2600 plan and opening a Health Savings Account.

My premiums would decrease by $2,088 annually—an amount that I would ask my church to contribute to my HSA. I would also hope to contribute to my account up to the maximum contribution ($5,200). By my calculations, there are a few scenarios in which this plan could wind up costing me more money in any given year than what I'm paying now. On every year that I've had since I've been in the ministry, however, I would wind up saving boatloads of money. And whatever money I don't spend out of my HSA I can keep from year to year, accruing it indefinitely. It is my money. I can leave it to my heirs. I can spend it at any time on health-related expenses without paying taxes on it—it is tax-free both going in and coming out.

This is a great deal for retirement. Let's face it, we're all going to have some health expenses in retirement. All of that money you're socking away in your 401k or 403b? You're going to have to pay taxes on it as regular income when you withdraw it to pay your medical bills. We all probably ought to have a significant amount of retirement money in an HSA if we can manage to do so, just to decrease our post-retirement tax liability.

I'm seriously looking at this. I'm 99% sure I'm going to do this. I cannot advise you as to what is best for your family, but I recommend that you look at a Health Savings Account, and talk to a financial planner or someone else who can give you good advice about this.

Thanks, President Bush, for making this available!

Oh, by the way, I'm going on vacation tomorrow and will be out until October 30. I may try to log on occasionally and approve your comments, but I'm not going to comment myself (it wouldn't be a vacation...) :-)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

McKissic: It's All Been Said

Concerning the situation with Dwight McKissic and his sermon at SWBTS, I've already given my opinion here. Although I have not much more to add, perhaps it is appropriate in the midst of the maelstrom to mention that I support the action of the seminary trustees. Furthermore, I want everyone to note that Dwight McKissic and only Dwight McKissic put this item on the seminary's agenda. If he didn't want a ruling on this, he should not have gone to such lengths to provoke one. There is no credible way that this week's events can be construed as a part of some sinister campaign to narrow participation in the SBC. The agenda was not Patterson's or the trustees'; it was McKissic's. When the SBC comes to a similar verdict, he will complain again, as will all the usual suspects. But when it happens, remember again that Dwight McKissic was the one who publicly demanded that the SBC vote on this issue.

Ask yourself the simple question, would speaking in tongues have been on the SWBTS trustee agenda at all if Dwight McKissic had not put it there?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Two Articles that Alarm Me

In light of this series of articles (NOTE: The link is to the last of the four articles, because it is the only article that contains links back to the first three) and this article, let us pray that the U.S. Supreme Court maintains a strong defense of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Evidence and Verdict

With this post, I think I will have said all that I have to say about speaking in tongues on my blog. I am still working on a more technical and academic demonstration of cessation in the historical record.

The basis of my A Posteriori Cessationism, and therefore the key difference between myself and some others, is the fact that I have come to regard all examples of ecstatic utterances that I have encountered to be human phenomena and not a work of the Holy Spirit. To put it more succinctly, there is absolutely nothing miraculous about present-day speaking in tongues (as contrasted with the biblical phenomenon).

In previous comments and discussion the idea of verification has come up. I mentioned the "retreat from verification" that has taken place in the history of the modern-day practice—the fact that modern-day tongues-speakers have gradually claimed less and less for the phenomenon as each set of claims has been shown to be demonstrably false by one reasonable standard or another. I think that verification remains an important part of the question, but I fear that too much of a focus on verification can leave a false impression. One might come to conclude that, in this debate, there is only evidence in favor of the validity of these ecstatic utterances as a Holy Spirit phenomenon. According to such a misunderstanding, some find that evidence to be sufficient to conclude in favor of the practice, while some hardnosed sticklers just have a really high standard of proof and refuse to be convinced by the favorable evidence.

But one must consider not only the case (if you will call it that) in favor of the modern-day practice, but also the case against it. Actually, there is a significant body of negative evidence, and responsible discussions of this phenomenon must deal with it.

  1. The Phoneme Question. A phoneme is "any of the perceptually distinct units of sound in a specified language that distinguish one word from another." So, phonemes are the sounds of language. Go to Mississippi and listen to a given charismatic Mississippian speak in tongues. Count how many German umlauts you hear. Count how many Hebrew ayins you hear. Count how many Ndebele clicks you hear. Don't hear any? Why is that? Why is it that, whenever you speak a different human language you almost always wind up having to try to train your mouth to make foreign phonemes—sounds that just aren't used in your language but that appear regularly in other languages—but human tongues-speaking just happens to employ precisely the phonemes that the speaker knows from the human languages he legitimately speaks and no others. Is this a coincidence? Is the Holy Spirit powerful enough to make us speak new languages unknown to us yet impotent to teach us a few new sounds? Or does it just so happen that there are enough "tongues of angels" for English-speakers to have their own, Russian-speakers to have their own, German-speakers to have their own, etc.? This is evidence for the idea that modern-day tongues-speaking is a counterfeit. People rearrange the sounds they know from their own language into nonsensical groupings. But they can only do so with sounds that they know, so they employ their own phonemes. There is nothing miraculous about that.
  2. The Grammatical Structure Question. Linguists have poured over countless hours of recordings of people issuing forth ecstatic utterances. In all of that research, no one has ever discerned any of the basic features of language in alleged speaking in tongues. There are no common words. There is no evidence of tense or mood or declension. There is no evidence of syntax. There are no observable patterns of phrases or clauses or any other linguistic units. For those of you who have gone to seminary, these ecstatic languages seem to be precisely the language that you wished Greek to be: No new letters or sounds to learn and no declensions or conjugations to memorize! None. The phenomenon seems not to rise above the level of the phoneme. Some might respond that angelic languages do not necessarily exhibit the same linguistic phenomena as human languages, and this is certainly a formidable strategic speculation—a bald speculation but a cunning one nonetheless. Yet one wonders, why at the phoneme level is this phenomenon so entirely unremarkable, containing absolutely nothing new to the speaker, while at every other level of language it shares absolutely no attributes with any language we know? Nothing otherworldly about the phonemes and nothing corresponding to the world in grammar and syntax? If I were just to babble, isn't that precisely what you would expect from random sounds without any meaning? Is this just a coincidence? Has God designed these divine languages so that there is no possible way for His children to be able to tell them apart from meaningless babbling? If not, how do we know? Someone from the enlightened among us, please share with me, how do you tell the difference between meaningless babble and this restored spiritual gift of tongues?
  3. The Parallel Phenomena Question. We must deal with the question of counterfeits because ecstatic speech is not a phenomenon strictly limited to Christianity. Does the Holy Spirit give the spiritual gift of tongues to nonbelievers, even to practitioners of non-Christian religions? If not, how might one differentiate objectively between the genuine Christian phenomenon and the counterfeit non-Christian phenomenon? Of course, there's no problem doing that with the biblical phenomenon, because the gift of interpretation validated the gift of tongues. But, the present-day practice is devoid of this distinctive attribute. The parallel phenomena also are not limited to the exterior of Christianity. There are always the "barks" of the Camp Meeting Revivals in Kentucky and elsewhere. Is barking like a dog an instance of speaking in tongues? (Maybe they'll try that in Toronto or Pensacola next year) If any of these examples are fakes, then do they not demonstrate the very real proclivity of humans to counterfeit such things? Given our pervasive sinfulness, are we wise to pretend that this could not possibly be the case with regard to present-day tongues-speaking? Yet the case for authenticity of the modern phenomenon seems simply to be a refusal to countenance the idea that it might be counterfeit rather than a consideration of evidence supporting the counterfeit theory and the reasonable rejection of that evidence on some grounds that we all might examine.
These are the strongest points of evidence. There are others, but I am tired and I am convinced that this is enough to form a basis for discussion.

I conclude by saying this, I would set all of these questions aside if there were any evidence at all of the miraculous hand of God at work in this phenomenon. In the New Testament, that evidence was there in the indisputable xenoglossy of Acts and the objective verification provivded by the gift of interpretation in 1 Corinthians. But when you combine the striking absence of these things in the present-day phenomenon with the above-listed factors that strongly suggest a natural, human genesis for the phenomenon, it seems to me that the only way to accept it as genuine is to decide beforehand not to question it at all.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

What Is the Outcome, Then?

I've been posting a lot lately about speaking in tongues, driven there by the flow of current events. The gist of my viewpoint is simply this: I do not believe that the modern practice alleged to be speaking in tongues is the same as the New Testament spiritual gift of tongues.

That conclusion implies that the New Testament gift of tongues has ceased; thus my sentiments regarding A Posteriori Cessationism.

But what, in turn, does that conclusion imply? In other words, perhaps it is time to address the "So what" of my views regarding the New Testament sign gifts.

The Example of Dutch Slade

Nine years ago my path crossed with that of a man named Dutch Slade. Dutch is an accomplished physician turned preacher, philanthropist, and a dozen other things. He is the pastor of Pomona Baptist Church in the hinterlands southwest of Atlanta, GA. Dutch is a remarkable man. He believes that he has the gift of healing.

I'll never forget a story that Dutch told me. A little girl in their congregation was killed in an automobile accident. Paramedics pronounced her dead on the scene and drove her to the morgue in a nearby hospital. Dutch was both the family's pastor and a physician who had once sat upon the board of directors for that hospital. As a pastor, he hurried to the hospital and prayed with the devastated father and mother. Then he headed for the morgue.

A security officer met him as he reached the doors of the morgue. Dutch insisted that he was going in. The security officer insisted that he was not. Dutch informed the security officer that Dutch had been on the board when the hospital had constructed that particular wing, and that he was going in. Dutch walked past the security guard, who turned to follow.

Medical personnel (I can't remember whether it actually was the Medical Examiner or not, but I have images of Quincy in my mind) were in the room when Dutch walked in and located the little girl's broken, lifeless body. He wept over her. He took her hand, lifted his eyes to heaven, and prayed aloud for God to bring her back to life. Dutch's eyes were lifted toward heaven, every other living eye in the room was pointed straight toward Dutch.

He prayed for several minutes. The little girl remained dead. He put her little hand back down and turned to leave. When he turned, his eyes met those of a group of people wondering in unison, "Who is this crazy man?" (May I confess, at this point in my first hearing of the story, I was thinking, "Dutch, you do know that you're crazy, don't you?")

Here's what Dutch said, and I'll never forget these words. He looked at the group, and weeping he said, "I just wanted to ask God in case maybe He would bring her back to life."

And then Dutch added, "He can do that, you know."

And at the very moment that I heard that part of the story, all of my thoughts of Dutch's craziness were replaced with conviction about my own lack of faith. I wouldn't have prayed that prayer with all of those people because I would have been afraid of looking foolish. May God prevent me from ever being so worried about looking foolish that I'm unwilling to be a part of making God look powerful. His strength is perfected in our weaknesses.

What does this have to do with the foregoing posts in my blog? Please allow me to highlight a few aspects of this story.
  1. Dutch was not timid in what he prayed for. He went for a genuine miracle of biblical proportions. Several people in the Bible rescusitated the dead, so this is clearly within God's power and there is precedence for God to do this in response to believing prayers. Such a thing has never happened in my lifetime, nor in the lifetime of our nation. I don't know why. Maybe we don't ask enough. Maybe, even if we asked every day, God just has some inscrutable divine reason not to want to do that today. But that doesn't mean that we can't ask. If I found myself unexpectedly in the middle of an opportunity to share Jesus with a bunch of people with whom I shared no common language, I would have no problem praying for a manifestation of the gift of tongues. It never hurts to ask, and to ask boldly.
  2. Dutch was honest about the results. God said no. Dutch didn't try to explain it away. He didn't invent some lesser way that God had really and truly answered his prayer. Dutch just acknowledged that, in His great wisdom, God had another plan. Good for Dutch. The difference between men like Dutch Slade and charlatans like Benny Hinn is the difference between daylight and darkness.
  3. Dutch did not let God's answer weaken his faith. If the occasion arises again, I promise you that Dutch Slade will do exactly the same thing over again. I admire that.
So, my problem with what people call speaking in tongues today is not that I am opposed to the supernatural. Neither am I opposed to the idea of people desiring otherworldly experiences with the power of God. Yet, from 1901 to today, this present-day practice gives every evidence of having earthly and human causes rather than heavenly and divine causes (and there's a statement I'll have to back up in another post soon). The only thing that makes me want to acknowledge it as true is my respect for some of the human beings who participate in it—human respect rather than awe before the evident hand of God. If that little girl had gotten up off that table, then an undeniable outpouring of the power of God would have taken place in that Georgia morgue. What passes for speaking in tongues these days simply is nothing like that.

What, then is the outcome, my brothers? For me, my a posteriori cessationism is not about a difference in my belief about what God can do. It is not about a difference in my hope for what God will do. I just want us to be honest about what God is doing.

My respect for fellow believers, powerful and significant as it is, is no justification for me to put the Holy Spirit's name behind something that I don't think the Holy Spirit is doing. Pray for such things all that you want, but let's not put our words into God's mouth, intelligible or otherwise.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

The Trail of Babble

[NEWLY INSERTED CONTENT: Look at this article in the Dallas Morning News. It is not precisely on-topic, but it probably doesn't merit its own post, either.]

It seems to me that it would be very difficult to be a true continuationist in all that the word itself implies. Why? Because the historical record strongly suggests that there is no continuity to the New Testament sign gifts.

Some have endeavored to produce an unbroken record of glossolalia throughout Christian history. As a Baptist, I can't help but sympathize with the attempts and indulge in a heartfelt and knowing chuckle. We, too, have been through a phase when our apologists have felt compelled to contort the historical record in order to produce a "Trail of Blood" and thereby legitimize our existence to others. But we did so at the expense of honesty, making "Baptists" of heretical groups and straining the limits of credulity in our suppositions and leaps of logic.

The "Trail of Babble" is no more reliable than the "Trail of Blood." Certainly by the time of Augustine the predominance of the evidence asserts that the practice of glossolalia had ceased. The only way to put together a strong argument to the contrary is to take references to being fully endowed with the Holy Spirit or speaking with the aid of the Spirit to be, necessarily, references to speaking in tongues. Yet this interpretive sleight-of-hand must be weighed against explicit statements like that of Augustine:

10. In the earliest times, "the Holy Ghost fell upon them that believed: and they spake with tongues," which they had not learned, "as the Spirit gave them utterance." These were signs adapted to the time. For there behooved to be that betokening of the Holy Spirit in all tongues, to shew that the Gospel of God was to run through all tongues over the whole earth. That thing was done for a betokening, and it passed away. In the laying on of hands now, that persons may receive the Holy Ghost, do we look that they should speak with tongues? Or when we laid the hand on these infants, did each one of you look to see whether they would speak With tongues, and, when he saw that they did not speak with tongues, was any of you so wrong-minded as to say, These have not received the Holy Ghost; for, had they received, they would speak with tongues as was the case in those times? If then the witness of the presence of the Holy Ghost be not now given through these miracles, by what is it given, by what does one get to know that he has received the Holy Ghost? (Homily 6 on 1 John)
Augustine is by no means alone in his testimony. Indeed, although we have the record of the "barks" in the Great Western Revival and a few scattered occasions of alleged tongues-speaking in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, we can trace the modern practice back to Charles Fox Parham's work in Topeka, KS in 1901—at this point, serious scholarship is in agreement.

So, one really does not have the luxury of acting as though glossolalia has simply "continued" down throughout Christian history. Instead, if one will approach the Christian story honestly, he must grapple with the absolute fact of cessation. One can, of course, be some sort of a restorationist—one might argue that although the gift of tongues has ceased previously in history, it has been restored today. Such a point of view raises the questions of whether the modern-day practice is legimate, why the ancient practice ceased, and why God saw fit to restore it in 1901. I, for one, would be interested in hearing some of our Southern Baptist brethren address the last two of these questions (obviously, the first one has already received blogophilic treatment).

Furthermore, even if one believes in some sort of a restoration, it seems to me that all must acknowledge that restoration to be incomplete. In the New Testament, people spoke in tongues and multiple hearers were in agreement verifying that a consistent message was being articulated in languages unknown to the speaker. That does not happen today, or if it does, someone is woefully remiss in letting the rest of the world know about such a miracle and giving us the opportunity to glorify God for it. In the New Testament, believers could walk up to a person who had been crippled or blind since birth—for decades—and in an instant, right in front of people who had known them for all of their lives, these people received miraculous and complete healing at the touch of the apostles. That does not happen today. I believe that God heals, but it just doesn't happen that way any more.

So, if the New Testament panoply of miraculous spiritual gifts "continues" today, then it does so after a period of cessation and it does so as a faint reflection of its former glory.

Is it any wonder that some of us remain unconvinced that it continues at all?

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

On Christian Unity

All who take seriously the scriptures and the lordship of Christ must bow before John 17 and embrace Christian unity as a primary goal for the kingdom. In the remainder of the New Testament I find only two causes that can warrant division in the body of Christ: defective doctrine and defective lifestyle. Christians are duty-bound to separate from those who become subject to church discipline for reasons of personal immorality or theological heterodoxy. Those two reasons, and no others.

Furthermore, it seems clear enough to me that the New Testament ideal for churches is that they be multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and presumably multifaceted with regard to the cultural trappings of the things that they did in common.

So it grieves me to notice a trajectory in this day and time (speaking of the general movement of our denomination, and not singling out any one person) toward what I regard as the opposite position regarding division in the body of Christ:

  1. From where I sit, it appears that people become less and less willing to take theological stands when doing so risks division in the body of Christ. Thus, theology is on the decline as a cause that can warrant division in the body of Christ, although it is a legitimate scriptural cause for such.
  2. Don't get me started on the abandonment of church discipline in the Southern Baptist Convention. Much of why we are where we are is a fear on the part of churches that effective church discipline will be unpopular or divisive, I believe.
Yet, on the other hand, it seems to me that people are clamoring to chop up the body of Christ piecemeal based upon:
  1. The quest for a "homogeneous unit."
  2. What kind of radio station people listen to and what style of music they want to sing in church.
  3. Whether the church ought to relocate or stay where it is.
  4. Attempts to facilitate change to the newest ministerial fad.
  5. Petty personal differences.
  6. Age.
  7. Race.
  8. I stop here not because I am out of things to list, but because I don't know that I would ever run out of things to list.
So, this Baptist sectarian would like to take a stand for Christian unity. Let's start by dealing with all of these things that are patently, obviously, without question unbiblical as causes of division. Personally I think they grieve the Holy Spirit much more than our honest efforts to be faithful to biblical doctrine.<

Monday, October 2, 2006

The Thorny Problem of Texas Appointments

One of the issues that people will be watching as SBC 2007 approaches is the list of committee appointments from Texas. Much discussion has taken place asking what would be a fair delegation from Texas. Sometimes people act as though the answer to this question is an easy one. It isn't.

The structure of the Southern Baptist Convention simply doesn't anticipate the current situation in Texas. Right now in Texas there are two Southern Baptist state conventions, the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. BGCT's relationship with the SBC is less friendly than SBTC's relationship with the SBC. The SBC has a limited number of options available to it:

  1. It can make some effort to distribute appointments evenly between BGCT-affiliated churches and SBTC-affiliated churches. The SBTC is a smaller convention than the BGCT, but it fowards 52% (it will be 53% by the time of SBC 2007) of its CP receipts to the SBC. The SBTC plans eventually to max-out at a 55%-45% split. The BGCT has a much larger budget, but it forwards only 21% of its CP recepts to the SBC (a number that may possibly decline further by the time of SBC 2007). The net effect is that each convention forwards about the same dollar amount to SBC—something in the neighborhood of $10 million. If one uses dollars forwarded in CP as the standard for apportionment of appointments, then an even split would seem to be appropriate. Several problems complicate this approach:
    1. What is a BGCT church? What is an SBTC church? A significant number of churches in Texas are dually-aligned with both the BGCT and the SBTC. If a member from such a church is appointed, does that count as a BGCT appointment or an SBTC appointment? People sympathetic to the BGCT tend to treat such appointments as SBTC appointments, but is that really accurate or fair?
    2. What about equity with other state conventions? The end result of this approach is that both BGCT and SBTC wind up with about half the number of appointments as that of other state conventions that forward fewer dollars to the SBC CP than either of these Texas state conventions. In the case of SBTC, it would have half the appointments of states that underperform it both in the measure of percentages and the measure of dollars. Is that fair? I think not.
    3. Do the BGCT's recent actions vis-a-vis the SBC not have some impact on what is fair? BGCT has locked SBC seminaries out of the exhibits at the BGCT annual meeting. BGCT has started a missions network to compete with the IMB, a literature publisher to compete with Lifeway, a Christian Life Commission to counter the ERLC (although the CLC's creation far predates the present controversy), and multiple seminaries to draw students away from the SBC seminaries. Why is the SBC bound to practice some overly restrictive notion of "fairness" toward the BGCT when the BGCT does not reciprocate with any goodwill toward the SBC?
  2. It can ignore the BGCT and appoint people solely from the SBTC. Yet this is not particularly fair, either. Not everyone in the BGCT agrees with what BGCT leadership is doing. Some churches turn a blind eye toward convention politics. Although BGCT keeps all but a trickle of its CP money in Texas, some BGCT churches designate around the BGCT budget and continue to support faithfully the SBC. Some people would gladly join SBTC but are in the minority in their churches and therefore remain in BGCT. Also, the BGCT has not yet consummated its plan to leave the SBC. So, there are faithful Southern Baptists whom conservatives could support who are somehow still within the confines of the BGCT. It would not be fair for BGCT affiliation to be an ipso facto disqualification for appointment to an SBC committee.
  3. It could completely re-evaluate the current system of state-by-state apportionment of nominees. This would give the opportunity for a new set of answers to address new questions posed by a new reality in Southern Baptist life, because Texas is not the only state either facing these problems now or soon to face them. Nevertheless, it is difficult to conceive of a solution that would be able to gain sufficient support to move forward. The SBC could apportion nominees to each participating state convention, but such an approach would encourage states to have as many state conventions as possible—not a desirable outcome. The SBC could apportion nominees proportionally either by membership or by contributions to SBC CP causes, but such an approach would kill any idea of meaningful membership reform and would be open to a whole host of abuses. Somebody may be brilliant enough to develop a panacea, but that person is not me.
In conclusion, I have to ask this question: Is the point of appointments and nominations really some sort of a "fair distribution"? Maybe we ought to be focusing on effectiveness rather than fairness. I think that we ought to select people to serve our convention who are in theological agreement with the messengers, are well equipped to serve in the area in question, and whose loyalties are not divided among the SBC and the CBF or other institutions. If we are putting into service people who meet these criteria, I am prepared not to care which state conventions may contain their home churches.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

The Lighter Side of the Joshua Convergence

If you want a more serious take on the recent meeting in Orlando (which I enjoyed greatly), then look here and here.

As for me, I hope to give a somewhat lighter side view of our get-together.

  • The folks who put the meeting together are obviously qualified to run the SBC. How do I know? Becuase in the forty-eight hours before we met, the name changed from "Generation Joshua" to "The Joshua Convergence." Obviously, these guys are well-qualified to direct the Annuity Board/Guidestone/Flintstone, the Sunday School Board/Lifeway/HighWeigh, the Foreign Mission Board/International Mission Board/Extraterrestrial Mission Board, and (my personal favorite) the Domestic Mission Board/Domestic & Indian Mission Board/Domestic & Indian Mission & Sunday School Board/Home Mission Board/North American Mission Board/Norteamericano Mision Board.
  • They're Great with Photoshop! I'm sending in a picture of myself to the Joshua Convergence leadership—I want them to do to mine whatever they did to Dr. Emir Caner's! We really would look like younger pastors if we could all get that treatment.
  • Local Restaurants Speak Up! The dining establishments in the Orlando area have apparently asked Bro. Anthony George to hold a joint conference with folks who disagree with the Principles of Affirmation—Habaneros apparently sold no alcohol at all to the Joshua Convergence crew and thinks they could achieve higher margins if a more diverse crowd were to attend.
In all seriousness, I was greatly impressed by everything that happened during the meeting. I specifically want to thank the organizers for two things that were important to me. First, I'm glad that we added the statement on identity to the Principles in the eleventh hour. Dr. Caner did a great job preaching to that one, in my opinion. Second, I'm really glad that our forum discussion was open to serious questions about the SBC, but modeled how to conduct them within a framework of gratitude and respect for those who have gone before us.

It was a great event. I'm thankful that I was able to arrange things to go.

By the way...

I have finally caught up, I think, with your comments. If I've missed you, comment again and I'll get back to you. I really do apologize for the rudeness of my recent absence. I shall try to do better.