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Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

This blog will be written from an orthodox Christian point of view. There may be some topic that is out of bounds, but at present I don't know what it will be. Politics is a part of life. Theology and philosophy are disciplines that we all participate in even if we don't think so. The Bible has a lot to say about economics. How about self defense? Is war ethical? Think of all the things that someone tells you we should not touch and let's give it a try. Everything that is a part of life should be an expression of worship.

Keep it courteous and be kind to those less blessed than you, but by all means don't worry about agreeing. We learn more when we get backed into a corner.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Opus 2018-019: Headlines: Yes, but Is He Crazy?

I was called into the room to watch the president’s doctor report to a group of Tourette victims on the status of Trump’s health.  His summation was straightforward:  The president is healthy.  Then it went to the question and answer period.  Here is where the mental disorder became obvious.  It was almost as if this group, mysteriously called the White House Press Corp, was suffering from a strange form of Tourette’s syndrom.  They seemed like they could not utter a complete sentence without some variation of “crazy” included.  We have several possibilities.

This could be a new form of malady.  It seems to effect only Trump haters.  It does not discriminate between political affiliation, sexual orientation or race.  It does seem to be intensified by the presence of microphones and cameras.

Another possibility is that they are mentally unstable themselves.  This often goes with people on the left, intense projection.  An example would be Hillary Clinton talking about the “vast right wing conspiracy” when the left was the one conspiring.  Or take the talk of Trump in collusion with the Russians when all the evidence points at the Clinton campaign.  Or take the accusation of hate speech on conservative talk radio.

Another is megalomania.  Do these “reporters” really think they are going to trick the doctor into saying, “Yes, actually, he is nuttier than a CNN talking head”.  I did notice that the doctor had a hard time not laughing at them.

As I keep reading others comment, “Bring out the popcorn.”

homo unius libri

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Opus 2018-018: Place, Rights, Righteousness

The Bell Curve by Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein has a lot to say in addition to talking about the role of IQ in society.  At one point they give a quick synopsis of the view of man in the philosophies of history.
“For thousands of years, great political thinkers of East and West tried to harmonize human differences.”, p. 528
They start with the ancient Chinese.
“For Confucius, society was like his conception of family....  People were defined by their place, whether in the family or the community.” p. 528
And that is extended for centuries and around the world.
“So too for the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers:  place was all.  All great religious traditions define a place for everyone, if not on earth then in heaven.”  p. 528
The Ancients saw man in terms of their place in society.  Moderns see people in terms of their rights.   Even this has gone through a progression.
“They are equal in rights, Locke proclaimed, though they be unequal in everything else.  Those rights however, are negative rights (to impose contemporary terminology):  They give all human beings the right not to have certain things done to them by the state or other human beings,...” p. 530
Today we have evolved to the point where rights are totally different.  It is not the right to “the pursuit of happiness”, it is now the right to happiness, guaranteed.
“The original concept of equal rights is said to be meaningless cant, outmoded; taking equal rights seriously, it is thought, requires enforcing equal outcomes.” p. 530
The Christian concept is totally different, although most Christians take a stand on the idea of rights.  The Bible see people in terms of their righteousness.  We have no “rights”.  We are hopeless sinners, helpless to change without God’s help and when we change the success is measured in terms of righteousness.  The question is how well we conform to the ethical standards that God demands.

We have value, but only in relationship with God.  If there is no God, we are just smart animals as the evolutionists say.  If there is a God, it does not matter what our rights are.

Herrnstein, Richard J. and Murray, Charles.  The Bell Curve.  New York: 
    The Free Press, 1994.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Opus 2018-017: Why Don’t I Win the Lottery?

The easy answer is “I never buy a ticket”.  You can’t win if you don’t play, but how many borderline believers go out and buy a lottery ticket in hopes that God will let them win and bail them out of a crisis?  How often do people promise God that if they win they will tithe on the winnings?  Why does God not play this game?  Economics.

Picture what would happen to the economy of the United States if every time a believer had a financial difficulty, God said, “Buy a lottery ticket” or “Horse number seven to place in the third race”.  He could do it but He doesn’t.  If He did the local community would be flooded with all kinds of unearned, extra cash.  For a day or two there would be parties and celebration.  After a short time all the good stuff would be gone and the stuff that wasn’t so good would cost a fortune and by that time you have blown all the largess and need another word from the Lord.  It would have the same effect that we have when governments start printing money instead of balancing their budgets.  Inflation would kick in and the economy would become a mess.  Does that sound familiar to anyone?

Which brings us to the second problem.  Think of the effect on the character of the believer.  It would undermine such things as thrift and moderation.  It would discourage hard work.  We see what happens when welfare is too easy to get.  Many people stop looking for work or don’t try very hard to keep the job they have.  After all, if they don’t have a job there is always the EBT card.  Getting a job after a long time off is hard to do.  I know how hard it was as a teacher to go back to work after a summer off.  If I had enough money in the bank I would have retired at 50 instead of 70.  God would become my social worker.

And think of the effect on the church.  It would lose the opportunity to share and express love.  Maybe you have been unfortunate enough that you have never been in such a desperate state that the family of God needed to step in to help.  Yes, you read that right.  You were unfortunate because you were never up against the wall.  I remember when my first child was born.  I was a young pastor and had been caught between churches so that I had no insurance.  The hospital wanted $500 cash up front or they would not release the baby to go home.  We had no money.  We laugh about it now, “What were they going to do, keep the baby?”  At the time is was terrifying.  Suddenly we got an unsolicited phone call telling us our district had found a special fund that awarded $500.  I don’t remember what cover story they came up with.  What had happened was a wealthy retired man who volunteered a lot in the district office had dug down and written a check for this struggling pastor.  The church needs to be the church.  The church needs to give and support.  If God started using the lottery or the government steps in with welfare checks then God’s people are being robbed of the opportunity to serve and relieved of the responsibility to give.

So buy a ticket if you must but don’t expect God to award the win.  If you do win you might ask yourself just who it was that made it happen.

homo unius libri

Monday, January 15, 2018

Opus 2018-016: Your Philosophy Makes a Difference

Are you a ducker or a remodeler?  How do you interface with your world.

Our contractor was doing something in my shower and kept hitting his head on the shower curtain bar.  I am taller than him and he wondered how I dealt with it.  Simple, I duck.  My wife’s solution was to remove the bar until they were through working there.  That demonstrates two different world views.

Some people are duckers.  They usually adjust to their world.  If they buy a product that has a flaw they will often adapt and work around the flaw.  People like me don’t expect the world to be perfect.  When people would ask me if I was a good teacher I was torn on how to answer.  Yes, I was a good teacher because I could see the people around me and I knew I did a better job than most.  No, I was not because I could always find something that could have been done better.  It didn’t matter how well things went, they can be improved.

Other people remodel their world to fit their needs.  They feel they have paid for it, it should work perfectly.  I pity their mechanic and painter.  They tend to feel that the way they do things is the best way.  If you disagree, you are the arrogant one with a problem.

Two philosophies, one world.  No wonder there is so much conflict.

homo unius libri

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Opus 2018-015: Ode to Old: Sunday, Sunday

I will always be able to tell what day it is, at least on Sunday.  Part of my morning ritual is to go through different humor sites.  The ones that are syndicated cartoons such as Dilbert and Rose Is Rose have a double long contribution on Sundays.  It will keep me grounded in my senility.

The rest of the week is up for grabs.  I can see how people who are retired begin to lose track of the day.  That is a real problem if they don’t have something like church, a club or some kind of activity to anchor the time.

The adventure of life continues.

homo unius libri

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Opus 2018-014: Lessons in the Trees

As I watch the trees outside my window I notice that they look greener than they did a few minutes ago.  Then they were a dark gray with spots of orange.  Now they are varieties of green with brown and beacons of sky blue shining through.  What has changed?  Did the trees pull a chameleon on me?  Were my eyes wrong?  Did the sun change its color?  Maybe it is just an example of how life is a process not a photograph.

It is much more than beauty that is in the eyes of the beholder.  The trees themselves did not change.  My location did not change.  It was outside factors that caused me to see what I saw.  Intellectually I knew that the trees were not orange.  I enjoyed the passing facade.  I did not question my sanity or the sincerity of the trees.  Why do I have so much trouble with that concept when it comes to politics and personal interactions?

How often am I only too ready to accept that someone has done evil?  If it is someone who has a long record of doing evil then the answer is obvious, because that is what they do.  But when you have someone who has a long record of at least trying to do the right thing, why am I so gullible.  And it works both ways.  Often we refuse to see the evil because we don’t want to see it.  We had a conversation with a waiter recently.  He said the one thing that disturbed him about President Trump is the way he has caused all the tension and hatred between blacks and whites.  What was his evidence?  All his black friends said so.  It didn’t do any good to point out that Obama was the race baiter and cause of increased hostility.  I brought up specific examples but I am not sure he was convinced.  After all, his black friends said so.

Have I been quick to jump on the person who upset me with a caustic comment?  This can also be personal and every day.  Think about it from the other angle.  Have you ever said anything and later realized how it must have come across and been totally embarrassed and even ashamed?  You didn’t mean it the way it was taken.  I think of a time I was daydreaming at a stop light.  It turned green.  I daydreamed.  The guy behind me finally honked.  I realized I had messed up and waved at him to show there were no hard feelings.  He thought I was giving him the finger.

We need to be a little more forgiving in the day to day business of life.  In elections and community choices we need discernment and discrimination but on spur of the moment stuff our skin needs a good thickening.

homo unius libri

Friday, January 12, 2018

Opus 2018-013: Crazy Works for Me

We are just starting 2018 and Trump is already driving the left crazy.

He is opening up areas full of oil and allowing Americans to access their natural resources.

Black Americans are seeing the lowest unemployment since that statistic has been recorded.

North Korea is starting to talk.

Major corporations are passing the benefit of the tax cut on to employees.

And we are only half way through January.  Of course I imagine there will be setbacks.  Some will be real.  Many will be the lies of the Fake News industry. 

I remember when students used to ask me if I was crazy.  I told them that being crazy was one of the requirements for teaching middle school.  I said it was right on the application, “Are you crazy?”  You had to answer yes to get the job.  For you liberals out there I did say it, but I was only joking.

If Trump is crazy, maybe we can find a way to make it infectious.

homo unius libri