Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Left Behind

Thank God I am not a dispensationalist. Otherwise, I would have been a bit startled at seeing more than 100 abandoned cars on the side of the freeway in a three mile stretch of my morning commute.

It was not the rapture. Instead, people encountered snow and just gave up. It was an odd sight for this Montana native. Many Puget Sound drivers literally freeze in panic when it snows.

Those who didn't give up found that it took 3 hours to go 30 miles, even in the early morning:

I'm glad that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven. He willed a few more to fall this morning.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Another twist: taxing what you don't receive.

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Matthew 7:9-11.

If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury.

Exodus 22:25.

Generations from all cultures have recognized the virtue of giving gifts. Sometimes the gift takes the form of an interest-free loan. It's a good way for parents to help their children start out while still instilling a sense of responsibility and gratitude. But if that loan is more than $10,000, beware. The federal government will tax the person giving the loan for the interest he could have gotten had he made the loan on the open market. 26 U.S.C. § 7872.

There is something called the "applicable federal rate." If you make a loan with interest below that amount, the government wants you to pay income tax on the difference between the magical federal rate and what you charged.

So, for instance, if you made a no-interest loan of $40,000 to a child to help him make a down payment on a house, the government imputes interest income to you. The October 2006 federal applicable rate was around 5%. Presto, even though you haven't gotten any income from the loan, you will be taxed as if you had received $2,000. (There are convoluted adjustments possible, but this is the general idea).

Even though there is a gift tax exemption for certain amounts, it is only by the grace of Congress. In the meantime, remember that even if you don't want to charge usury to your family or friends, the watchful grace-enforcers will tax you as if you did.

There is another nifty little feature in tax law. If you let your adult children (or anyone else) use property you own, perhaps a cabin by the lake or an extra house to live in (or, conceivably, even a car or boat), the IRS can impute rental income to you. This is decidedly not Calvin's doctrine of imputation. But that is another story for a different time.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Batteries not included

I've been sort of pressed at work and school and therefore haven't been blogging. Nevertheless, I couldn't resist talking about this news item about a Talking Jesus Doll.

Continuing in my curmudgeonly manner, I find it an abomination. The Lord and Sovereign Creator of the Universe, Judge of All, Savior of His people, King of Kings, and Wonderful Counselor is represented as a push-button battery-operated toy. This item is put out by people who claim to have a "ministry". The company also has a talking Moses doll. He even recites the Ten Commandments. Apparently nobody in the design department listened to the part about the 2nd Commandment.

The news report indicated that Toys for Tots initially rejected the doll because they didn't want to offend Jews or Muslims. No mention of any Christians who might be offended. Sadly, they are probably right, many would not be. May God be merciful to those ignorant of His law and His character.

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Exodus 20:4-6.

Monday, November 06, 2006

And Science Continues Its Quest

Because it is too hard to find enough human eggs to do research on stem cells, some scientists are planning to fuse human DNA with cow eggs. Perhaps the unstated goal is to make us even more herd-like. Notwithstanding such cynicism, the justification, as always, is the common good.

"UK scientists have applied for permission to create embryos by fusing human DNA with cow eggs.

Researchers from Newcastle University and Kings College, London, have asked the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority for a three-year licence.

The hybrid human-bovine embryos would be used for stem cell research and would not be allowed to develop for more than a few days.

But critics say it is unethical and potentially dangerous.

Stem cell research is one of the most promising areas of medical science.

They are the body's master cells and five-day-old embryos are packed with them - each with the potential to turn into any tissue in the body.

It is this ability which scientists want to harness to treat diseases such as Parkinson's Disease, strokes and Alzheimer's Disease.

To do that, they need to have access to thousands of embryos for research."

BBC Story

The result will be, technically speaking, a chimera. The ancient Greeks were probably wiser in this regard. They considered a chimera to be a monster.

Indeed, something seems very monstrous about this idea.

"Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself." Isa 44:24.