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.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Opus 2012-306, Tortoises, not Ostriches

As a believing and serious Christian I find the last election has the potential for causing depression.  On the moral issues evil took a big step forward.  I say moral issues instead of social issues because abortion and homosexuality are moral issues not social issues.  The killers of babies won.  The perverts won. 

On the social issues I lost also.  The Second Amendment has enemies in high places.  They are stronger than they were before the election.  This is a social issue.  It is a topic that people can disagree on.  It is a constitutional issue.  People who believe in the rule of law cannot disagree if the law they are sworn to uphold is the U.S. Constitution, but I accept that some people don’t believe that the Constitution is the best system available. 

On other issues from education to the economy I lost.  I felt it but I am recovering.  I have a reminder that is more powerful than hope and change.  I have a truly renewable source of energy.
(2 Corinthians 4:7-9 KJV)  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.  We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
What is the source of that renewal?  It is not my intelligence or strength.  It is bigger than that.  It is eternal.  Notice the next verse.
(2 Corinthians 4:10 KJV)  Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
Christians lost but we are still optimistic and involved.  You see, we are always using situations like this to remind ourselves that politics is something we are involved in because of duty not because it is vital.  We rejoice in adversity because we have read the book and understand the principles of life.  In the race of life we are tortoises, not ostriches.  We live in perseverance, not denial.

That is a big difference and one that the pagans and “Kristians” don’t understand.  We are not happy fools, we are informed servants. 

homo unius libri

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Opus 2012-305, Discernment Watch: Continued Religious Ignorance

Every time I read something in the Progressive Press that refers to Muslims I have a question that forms in my mind, “What kind of Muslim are we talking about?”  The press refuses to give the details that make a difference.  There are two distinct errors.

The biggest problem is that the media refuses to recognize the difference between Muslim and Black Muslim, between Islam and the Nation of Islam.  These are two totally different groups.  One is basically a racist religion, white is evil.  The other is a world wide religion that embraces people from all races and cultures.  It makes a difference which one you are talking about.  This difference may be coming to an end.  I didn’t mark the page, but in reading Michael Youssef’s book Blindsided, it seems that the two groups have temporarily patched up their condemnation of the other in order to pursue jihad.  That then makes them part of the second error of the media.

The second problem is the simplification that projects a monolithic Islam.  Islam is as divided as Christianity.  The two big divisions are the Sunni and Shia, just as Christianity has Protestant and Roman Catholic.  This is a historic, obvious difference that demonstrates the ignorance of the press.  They mention the existence of the two but don’t seem to understand how deep the divide is.  When you mix in the Wahabi and Sufi it gets even more confusing because they overlap. 

Most reporters and talking head have never read the Koran.  They know a few quotes provided by either true believers, deniers or haters.  None begins to shed light on what motivates these people.  Ignorance is dangerous.  Those who are paid to inform us come in two flavors.  One is ignorant from laziness.  The other is informed but wants to keep us ignorant.

So ask questions.  Are we talking about Islam or the Nation of Islam?  Mohammed or Farakan?  Are we talking about Sunni or Shia?  Are we talking Arab or Persian or Turk?

Read the Koran.  You can do it.  I urge you to read it and I am a Christian.  I will take the risk that it will convert you.  It isn’t that long.  Don’t take anyone’s word for what it says, even mine.

Youssef, Michael, Blindsided, No City:  Kobri, 2012.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Opus 2012-304, New Terms: Moderate

In my Perpetual Proverbs post for November 23 I was discussing a reference to the problems of drinking and part of what I said was this,
“We must find a balance in life.  The Bible does this.  In alcohol the balance is in moderation.  Moderation is a range of use.  In the case of alcohol the range is from none to small amounts.  Abstaining is moderation on this issue because alcohol is not a need.”
I noticed later that I used a word that has become a part of our political discussions and like so many words used by the post-moderns, it is taking on a new meaning.  I refer to the term “moderate” or “moderation.”  According to my computers dictionary, “moderate” means “1) average in amount, intensity, or degree; 2) (of a political position) not radical or extreme.”  That is the way that the word, as an adjective, has been understood until the last ten years of so.

No longer.

Now “moderate” means that you agree with the Progressives (Socialists, Communists, elites, academia, Democrats) and their ideas.  Thus we have the left wing media labeling Republicans as moderate when their views are those of Democrats.  As an example of this thinking I remember a conversation with one of my fellow teachers who thought that the L.A. Times was a conservative news paper.  Really.  He said it and meant it.  Today I had a man quoting out local paper as if that meant anything.  I used to have a friend who wrote for that paper.  He was a left-wing, Berkeley radical from the 60's.  He fit right in.  Since he was older, taking baths and getting haircuts, he would be considered “moderate.”

So just as “love” has come to mean sex, “gay” has come to mean homosexual, “respect” has come to mean multi-cultural equality, and “tolerance” has come to mean approval, now “moderate” has come to mean the L.A. Times.

Understand that Orwell’s “new speak” is alive and well among us.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Opus 2012-303, Ode to Old: Survival Instincts

P.J. O’Rourke wrote a book with the title Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence and a Bad Haircut.  There are certain things that age teaches.  Some are learned from experience and wisdom.  Since some people don’t learn from experience and others have no fear of the Lord, those two won’t work in every case.

For the rest there is pain, or another way of putting it, avoiding pain.  You could also call it necessity. 

I find that I have a lot more aches and pains than when I was younger and they last longer.  For example it hurts to lift my arm a certain way.  I still need to live life and that involves reaching that second shelf.  So I get creative and improvise.  I find that if I approach the shelf in a circular motion instead of head on, I can do it. 

So in old age we don’t give up, we get creative.  We approach through the back door.  We substitute.  What we don’t do is give up.

Believe me, you have a lot to look forward to.  I am already working on how I am going blog when I can’t see the keyboard any more.  Don’t worry that isn’t even starting to be a problem.  And since I can still see better than my kids I plan on driving for a few years, at least as long as I need to get to work. 

But I will find a way. 

homo unius libri

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Opus 2012-302: Firsts: Quinoa

We have discovered something that has been a part of the Yuppie diet for a good time.  It is called quinoa.  It comes from the Andes Mountains of South America and is fits into the diet nitch of oatmeal or grits.  It looks like tiny seeds and cooks over a 15 to 20 minute time period.

While visiting my children, my son and I were in a store called Wegmans.  At its heart Wegmans is a grocery store but it is a bit schizophrenic.  It has an extensive deli, large cheese selection and a cafeteria style area full of ready to eat foods grouped by ethnic origin.  We were looking for original style grits and found them in at least three different areas of the store.  While we were looking we came across a section full of things we had never heard of, among them quinoa of several types. 

It was an adventure for us so we picked out something that we had never heard of and took it home to experiment.  Quinoa is a strange food.  While it is cooking it smells a bit like corn on the cob.  When it is ready to eat it sprouts a little tail on each grain.  It has a unique taste of its own.  We experimented.  You can eat it straight, with salt and pepper or with the sweetener of your choice.  We tried it many ways.  All were interesting.  None were disgusting.  All were expensive.

So if you are looking for an adventure breakfast or a dinner starch, give quinoa a try.  Don’t get too excited by all the stuff on the wrapper.  It is just food, not the answer to third world poverty.  It will never replace bacon, but then what would?

homo unius libri

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Opus 2012-301: Victory of Reason: What About the Greeks?

In my reading over the years I have come across many writers who claim that Christianity was influenced by other schools of thought and religions.  Recently one of the college students at our church ran into this thinking in regard to Judaism.  The professor was advocating that the Hebrew idea of good and evil was borrowed from the Zoroastrians and other eastern religions.  It was confusing for the college student with little knowledge, but it wasn’t very difficult poking holes in the argument. 

Another idea that keeps coming up is the influence of the Greeks.  Stark makes this comment which I found interesting,
“Christian faith in reason was influenced by Greek philosophy.  But the more important fact is that Greek philosophy had little impact on Greek religions.” p. x
There is no reason to think that the writers of the Old Testament lived in a vacuum and had no knowledge of Greek  philosophy.  The Kingdom of Israel was located on the trade routes that linked the corners of the known world.  The New Testament and Christianity would be even more exposed to the thinking of the rest of the world.  In the book of Acts you have an account of the apostle Paul going to Mars Hill and debating with the thinkers of his day. 

But what was interesting in this comment was the second part.  The polytheistic, paganism of the Greeks was not influenced by the call to reason of the Greek philosophers.  My read is that the Greeks tended to keep their religion and reason in separate compartments.  They did not mix.  Thus these great philosophers and thinkers were able to pay allegiance to gods that moderns think are a bit silly and immature.  The gods did not influence their thinking and values.  It was two worlds in one community.

Although we have many pseudo-Christians and church-goers who also think that way, genuine Christianity does not accommodate that separation.  Our understanding of daily life and priorities are tied intimately with our view of eternity and moral values.  The two march together.  They stimulate and challenge each other.  We are not able to compartmentalize our lives.

Notice I am talking about those who are serious about their faith.  There are many who attend church or call themselves Christian who don’t really want it to interfere with their quest for gratification.  Don’t judge the Faith by the faithless and unfaithful.

In the development of the West you have had many of the great thinkers and scientists who were devote in their Christian faith.  Sure, you had those on the atheist and agnostic side but being on the cutting edge did not mean walking away from the Bible.  The same is true today.  Believing and thinking go very well together.  Thinking is necessary to reach the truth and believing is a requirement to accept it when you find it.

Stark, Rodney, The Victory of Reason.  New York:  Random House, 2005.

homo unius libri

Friday, November 23, 2012

Opus 2012-300: History Repeats Itself

In reading the Koran it became clear to me that Mohammed was only familiar with heretical forms of Christianity.  For instance I noticed that he quoted the gnostic Gospel of Thomas and seemed to believe it represented orthodox Christianity.  I recently came across something that verified my observation.

Michael Youssef, in his book Blindsided, was writing about why the Arabian Peninsula was resistant to Christianity before the preaching of Mohammed.  One of his points went like this,
“...Arabian Christianity in the seventh century was corrupted and distorted by Gnostic heresies and diversions over the nature of Christ.  Some of these heresies taught that Jesus was a mere human being who achieved divinity through mystical knowledge.  Though some Arab Christians revered the New Testament as God’s revealed Word, many embraced the Gnostic heresies, so that the ‘Christianity’ they practiced was weak and unbiblical.  So the Christianity of Arabia had little appeal to the pagans in that region.” page 49
It is nice to have my observations endorsed by someone who is much more familiar with the area than I am, but that is not what jumped out at me.

I saw a parallel between Arabia of the sixth century and America of the 21st century.  The Christianity that was being lived and taught he calls “weak and unbiblical.”  I think that same phrase could be used to describe what I see in the church of America today.

American churches are into being “user friendly” and not “Godly obedient.”  They are more concerned about offending the visiting pagan than the eternal God.  Paul said,
ROM 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
The modern church has dropped out the “do not” and made conformity a requirement.

If the church wants to impact the world, it will need to return to being the church.

Youssef, Michael.  Blindsided.  No City:  Kobri, 2012.

homo unius libri

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Opus 2012-299: The Stop Sign of Thanksgiving

Why has Thanksgiving become such a national tradition?  It is one of the few holidays that is celebrated by almost everyone.  I view it as a Christian holiday because I am giving thanks to God.  People of other religions can feel the same sense of thanks even if we have different beliefs.  People of no religion can also feel thankful.  They can think happy thoughts or have a sense of gratitude to ancestors or the human spirit.  It is a chance to focus beyond ourselves.

It is a national stop sign.  It is a time we all stop, at least for a moment, and experience an awareness of gratitude to something bigger than ourselves.

It is appropriate that it comes a few weeks after the general elections.  We have had a bit of time to notice that the country has not dissolved into chaos and ruin.  The black helicopters have not arrived on my lawn.  The internet has not been shut down.  We seem to be muddling along, at least for a few more weeks.  We need to stop and be thankful that there is still time and liberty.  We need to make the most of it.

It is appropriate that it comes a month before Christmas.  It should set the mood and help us to focus.  It should give us a chance to stop, looks at our blessings, examine our priorities and go into the season of giving with a desire to really give and not just spend.  Every year we have a pause to get ready to move ahead and change directions.  We can make this holiday into what the word originally meant:   Holy day.  For Christians it is a chance to remember that the first Christmas was the incarnation, the word made flesh in the fulness of time.  For non-Christians it is a chance to take advantage of the celebration that they are invited to share.

So stop.

Be thankful.

God bless you and yours, even if you don’t believe.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Opus 2012-298: If Jesus Is the Answer, What Is the Question?

Have you ever heard someone make that comment?  I have.  It is supposed to be a show stopper.  I accepted it as humor and a bit creative.  Like most humor it relies on surprise rather than thoughtful analysis.    Eventually I did some thinking about it.  My thinking was spurred by podcasts by William Lane Craig from his ministry called Reasonable Faith.  He is a scholar and philosopher.  One time he was talking about the Big Questions of Life. 

The big questions are not things like “Could God make something too big for Him to move?”  They are not wondering “Which came first, the chicken or the egg.”  How about “What is two times infinity?”  Those are brain teasers.   They are entertainment.  They are not the Big Questions.

What are the Big Questions?
Why am I here?
What is the meaning of life?
What happens after I die?
What difference does it make if I am honest?
What measures right and wrong?
Why not cheat on my spouse?
Why is there pain and suffering?
I am sure that you have questions that make you stop and wonder which way to go in life.  They are the questions that provide answers and give direction or go unanswered and lead us to desperation, depression and suicide. 

To those questions Jesus gives answers.  They may not be simple answers.  They may not be answers that we want to hear.  They may not fit into our cultural norms.  We may deny them.  There may even be some that we cannot understand.  None of that means that the answers are not available.

So if you have Big Questions, Jesus can supply the big answers.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Opus 2012-297: Victory of Reason: Is Christianity Really Reasonable?

In his book, The Victory of Reason, Rodney Stark is tracing some principles that underlie the development of Western culture in general and American culture in particular.  I gave a quote from the book in my introductory comments: 
“While other world religions emphasized mystery and intuition, Christianity alone embraced reason and logic as the primary guide to religious truth.” p. x
This looks like it is a statement about Christianity, and it is, but that is not the focus of his remarks.  What he is doing is trying to explain the foundations for Western dominance in our modern world.  His point here is that, unlike other world religions, Christianity was open to reason and logic.

Most modern “wisdom” would have a wide gulf between Christianity and reason.  Since we talk about being saved by the grace of God and that grace being appropriated by faith, most people think that means turning off your brain and just believing.

He is pointing out that such a stereotype is not accurate.  He is speaking as a scholar and sociologist, not as a believer.  He is not saying there is no mystery or intuition.  He is simply saying that Biblical Christianity never requires you to turn off your brain or abandon your reason.  In the notes that I took, he specifically compares Christianity to Judaism and Islam.  Because he mentioned world religions I would assume he was also including Buddhism and Hinduism. 

I am a follower of Jesus Christ because I believe the claims of the Bible but that belief does not exist in a vacuum.  I have a wide range of knowledge.  I am sure there are large gaps but my data base if very eclectic.  As an indicator, years ago when working on my teaching credential I took a nationally normed test on general knowledge.  With no studying or preparation I scored in the 98th percentile.  For those who have not had statistics in years, that means I scored better than 98 percent of the people who take the test.  I have continued reading and learning since then.  I say this, not to toot my own horn, but to point out that being a believer is not a sign of being ignorant. 

When I put it all together, science, history, philosophy, experience, emotion and observation all tell me that Jesus is the best answer for all the questions of life.  So I agree with his analysis, at least about Christianity.  It is a religion of faith, reason and logic.  It is a powerful combination.

Stark, Rodney, The Victory of Reason.  New York:  Random House, 2005.

homo unius libri

Opus 2012-296: Victory of Reason: An Introduction

One of the books I have read in the last few years is called The Victory of Reason by Rodney Stark.  I have adopted a discipline of taking notes on books that I think have something to say and then type them into my computer so that I can review them.  Since I am away from the posts I have been working on, I felt this was a good time to do some review.

Stark has a lot of interesting things to say in this book.  For instance, in his introductory comments he says,
“While other world religions emphasized mystery and intuition, Christianity alone embraced reason and logic as the primary guide to religious truth.” p. x
When I read something like this I always ask myself, “Where is this person coming from?”  A statement like this, written by someone with my dominant Christian beliefs, while being an honest expression of opinion would need to be examined carefully because of the  presuppositions.  So, is Stark a Bible believing Christian?

First, I looked at the publisher of the book, Random House.  This is a secular publisher.  I think that is an indication that this is offered as a scholarly, intellectual publication. 

Second, I checked out Stark online.  Wikipedia gives a summery of his life and deals with his “personal religious faith.”  Based on his own statements he would be at most a general believer, at worst an agnostic.  He does not seem to have a strong, focused faith that would cause him to give pro-Christian analysis.

With that, I feel I am able to accept him as an unbiased source.  When he says “Christianity alone embraced reason and logic,” I can accept that as an analysis not a conviction.  Conviction does not invalidate a statement but it needs to be considered.  As one with a strong faith and strong convictions I admit that.  At the same time having strong convictions does not make your beliefs invalid. 

Third, he is a sociologist of religion.  He did graduate work at Berkeley which tends to be liberal and teaches at Baylor, affiliated with conservative Baptists.  He is a scholar in the area he is writing about.

I hope to look at and discuss some of his points while I am away from home.

Stark, Rodney, The Victory of Reason.  New York:  Random House, 2005.

homo unius libri

Monday, November 19, 2012

Opus 2012-295: Third Party Recipe

Several times in American history we have seen political parties die out and be replaced by a new voice.  The original two parties were the Democrat-Republican Party, led by Thomas Jefferson and the Federalist Party, led by John Adams.  The Democrat-Republicans dropped the “Republican” and are the direct ancestor of the modern Democratic Party.  After Adams failure at reelection the Federalists began to fade. 

The Whig party replaced the Federalists.  They lasted until slavery became the dominant issue and they began to die because they refused to take a clear stand.  The Republicans came along and pushed them aside because they were a loud voice against slavery and wanted to find a way to allow poor people to acquire land in the West. 

It is beginning to look like it is time for a new party to emerge that will replace the waffling of the Republicans.  I have a word of strategy for those who are interested:  Don’t start at the top.

Most third parties today start off trying to run a candidate for president.  All they end up doing is winning the election for the side they are most angry with.  In the last election Libertarians tended to bleed support from Republican candidates, guaranteeing victories for the Democrats.  Names of the past that have caused similar results include Ralph Nader and Ross Perot. 

The success of the Republican party of 1860 was built on a strong, clear stand against the institution of slavery and years of winning elections on lower levels.  If a third part wants to push aside the insipid Republican leadership they need the same combination.

First, the new party needs to have a clear message.  The Republicans are trying to be Democrat lite instead of being the party of principle.  Every time we have run a candidate who is moderate, we have lost.  List the names:  Ford, Bush I (second time), Dole, McCain, Romney.  When we have run people that the public is convinced are conservative we have won:  Reagan, Bush I (first time), Bush II.  We need to be a clear choice not a slightly different variation.

Second, start at the local level.  Elect mayors, city councils, and dog catchers.  If there are not enough people in a local area to elect a member of the city council there will not be enough to elect a president.  Then move to state offices.  When you have a voice and a track record, go for the big one. 

Third, until you have enough voice to go national, back the best candidate in the general election.  Register as a party but vote for the one who might (as opposed to won’t) do the right thing.

Just some thoughts about changing the direction of the country. 

homo unius libri

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Opus 2012-294: I Am Not a Pollutant

I am not an “environmentalist.”  I am a steward.  I am a believer in the stewardship of the Earth as God commissioned mankind to be. 
Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (NASB)
Or I guess you could say I am a “subdue-er.”   That does not mean destroy or waste.  The earth is not god but it is God’s and I am responsible for how I use it.

I try to be open to ideas that make sense in that stewardship.  One of the good inputs from the Greenies is a concern for the toxic materials in batteries.  All you need to do is read the labels to be concerned:  Alkaline, cadmium, lithium, etc., don’t sound like healthy things to have in quantity.  I keep a container to put them in and when I have enough I drop them off at a local library that has a box for old batteries. 

There should be a rational, balanced way in which we can all acknowledge a concern for the environment.  We need to start by recognizing the different foundations we come from.  Whether they are aware of it or not, the extreme environmentalists worship the earth and nature as a god.  They view it as sacrilege to do anything that would damage the perfect balance of nature and they look at man as a pollutant as well as a polluter.  If the choice is between a human and a redwood, the redwood wins.

As a Christian I view the earth as a creation of the eternal God, not a god itself.  It is only a part of the whole.  When God made man, He designed us with an awareness of the world we were put into.  That world has built in safeguards that allow for us to flourish if we simply accept our responsibility as the pinnacle of creation.  Just as reasonable people don’t trash their homes and neglect their families, so we don’t mistreat the world we live in.  Like a home, the world is here for our use and enjoyment.  We are not pollution, we are people.

homo unius libri

Opus 2012-293: Lost and Found

A few posts back I informed the world that I had driven off and left my bag sitting on the ground.  Since I had to catch a plane at 6:00 A.M. the next morning there was little I could do.  My relief was great when I changed planes in Cincinnati and found a phone message from my wife saying it had been turned in and locked up.  Compared to the persecution of Christians in Iraq and Egypt this is nothing.  Up next to people struggling with cancer it is a trifle.  I am still thanking God that He decided I did not need a growing experience. 

I am assuming that it will all be there when I get back.  In the mean time I am using my old laptop and tweaking it to make it work.  All of the posts I had in development are in a time capsule.  It is like starting over again.

It is a strange experience being cut off from all the crutches and short-cuts of life.  I hope it is a growing experience for me. 

homo unius libri

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Opus 2012-292: Firsts: Small Works

I made an interesting discovery this week:  All smaller planes are not the same.  I have been forced to fly on small airliners a few times in the past.  Once was in Australia and we were tossed around so bad that one passenger had to be carried off on a stretcher.  The last time was in a cracker-box, up wing, prop job in the Eastern U.S.  I was not happy when my wife arranged a route for me that included a small jet.  I didn’t care if she got the ticket free, there was a reason.

When I got on it only had three seats across.  My seat was both an aisle seat and a window seat.  I could not stand up straight in the aisle.  I was not impressed.

But it worked out fine.  The seat was as good, or bad, as any I had experienced on a full sized jet.  The ride was my concern and it was smooth and steady.  At the end we went down stairs and walked across in the open to enter the terminal.  It was like living in the past, but like much of the past, it was not all that bad.

So if you are like me and leery of small jets, it is an unnecessary fear.

homo unius libri

Friday, November 16, 2012

Opus 2012-291: Dicernment Watch: Population Bomb Is Still a Dud

I never read the book.  I don’t intend to ever read the book.  I have a life and reading foolishness is not high on my list.  The book was called The Population Bomb and I believe the first edition forecast that the world would dissolve into starvation and chaos in 1980.  Look around you.  We are still here and last time I looked there was still food on the shelves.  The book has been regularly reissued since then, changing the date but not the conclusion.  It is still being purchased and read by the credulous.  There is still no report on whether the election that stopped the rise of the oceans and began the healing of the planet has increased or decreased those sales.

My mind turned in this direction as I was flying across the hills that Easterners call the Appalachian Mountains.  The area was green and productive.  There were cities, towns, farms, factories, roads and more.  Yet it was largely empty.  This is what fascinates me about the area east of the Mississippi.  It is some of the most heavily populated land in America, yet it is largely open.  It is not crowded once you get outside the inner areas of the large cities.  I assume that people who think the world is overcrowded rarely get away from their malls and couches.

I have not done the math recently, so maybe it is time to do it again.  First, let’s Google the total population of the world.  We get a lot of numbers but a safe estimate looks like 7 billion or, 7,000,000,000.

Now, how much land is there in the world?  You can come up with 58,000,000 square miles.  If you do the math it comes out to 117 people per square mile.  To be fair we should take out Antarctica, which leaves us with a population density of 130 people per square mile.  That doesn’t tell you much so lets look at a few numbers to compare.

People per square mile:

California, 242
New York State, 414
Kansas City, MO, 1,630
Wichita, KS, 1,962
Pumiceville, People’s Republik of Kalifornia, Arox. 6,000.

Next let’s Google the total area of the state of Texas:  268,820 square miles or 172,044,800 acres.

If you do a little math that comes out as 2640 people per square mile or 40.687 people per acre.  Think of an acre as the area of a football field without the end zones.  Think of 41 people living in the area of a football field. 

Is that what you consider crowed?  The entire world living in the state of Texas with a football field allocated for every 41 people.  When you consider how many people now live in apartments or rent rooms it doesn’t seem like the world is too crowded.  If you feel like it is then throw in the state of Oklahoma for elbow room and Colorado for malls and parks.  The rest of the world would be empty.

So next time someone tries to tell you we need population control, rent them a car and tell them to drive across Montana and North Dakota. 

homo unius libri

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Opus 2012-291:  Life Happens

I drove off and left my bag with my computer and all my technology sitting in a parking lot at school.  I will need to wait until tomorrow to see if someone turned it in.  I am now busy changing passwords and such as I can remember.

I wish I could blame it on the Democrats.

It was all me.

This may slow me down a bit, but I shall triumph.

Opus 2012-290, Plow and Crown: The Land of the EBT and the Home of the Secure

I enjoy singing the Star Spangled Banner.  I enjoy the historical picture of Fort McHenry standing up to the British onslaught in the War of 1812.  I have visited the site and watched my kids participate in folding the flag at sunset.  The song has been known to bring tears to my eyes.  I am not sure that I can sing it anymore with sincerity.  That last line about the “land of the free and the home of the brave” sticks in my throat after the last election.

People have talked about adopting a new national anthem.  One of the suggested titles is America, the Beautiful.  I like that one too, but it will never become our national anthem.  It has too much traditional American value in it.  Sunday was Veterans Day and the prelude at church included a number of patriotic songs including America, the Beautiful.  As the pianist plays I like to look up the songs and follow the words. 

An example of the reason I know this song will never be adopted was found in the last line of the second verse.
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!
These are values that have been abandoned by the voting masses.  Self-control is a dirty word.  It is a concept that had been abandoned for the pleasures of the moment.  Why practice self control when you can get the government to take someone else’s wealth and redistribute it to you?  And now you don’t have the embarrassment of stamps and stickers, you get an EBT debit card and look just like the working people who can’t afford the steak you are buying. 

Liberty may still be on our coins but liberty based on law has been rejected in favor of a judicial reinterpretation flavor of the month.  Our president and our courts don’t want to be encumbered by balance of power, due process and legislation.  They want to rule by fiat.  

The only solution to the abuses is impeachment but it will never happen.  The people who need to put the process in motion are not willing to make the move.  Maybe we need a new political party called the Impeachment Party.  It would get my vote.

Our ancestors struggled for centuries wresting power away from the elites.  Recently we seem to be stumbling over each other in the rush to give it all back. 

The pendulum swings.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Opus 2012-289, Monday Pulpit: As California Goes...

During the pastoral prayer our country was lifted up as well as our state.  In the prayer the pastor said something to the effect that once we used to talk about “as California goes, so goes the nation.”  In the past this has been the way it was.  California was the trend setter.  He concluded with a plea, “May it not be so.”

I could not agree more.  You had better pray that he is right.  And pray that the remnant in California would become salt instead of tofu.

homo unius libri

Monday, November 12, 2012

Opus 2012-288, Firsts: Happy about Grandchildren?

Out family will be getting together for Thanksgiving.  As usual we will give our kids a hard time about not being married yet.  One of the traditional complaints is that there are no grandchildren.  That may change this year.  For the first time in my life I am glad I do not have any grandchildren.  The anticipation of it happening eventually has been great but after this election I seriously wonder about bringing descendants into a country that would vote so clearly to move toward a socialist state. 

The loss of this election is not really mine.  I am old enough that I may outlast the reservoir of prosperity that has been built up.  I am healthy enough that I may make it through the rationed health care of the future.  I am strong enough that I can keep working.  If I am blessed I will know I am retiring when I hear them dial 911 for me.

My concern is for the future generations, the ones yet unborn.  Those who were old enough to vote and drank the kool-aide can pick their flavor and hope for the best.  It is the unborn that will come into a world that once knew opportunity and liberty.  With the rewriting of the text books they may never know what they missed.

For myself, I continue to live in joy and peace.  God is still on the thrown and still has some surprises for us.  I believe that revival can come.  It has happened in the past, it can happen in the future.  I will continue to participate and agitate, at least until I am locked up.  I will enjoy the sunrise and the rhythm of the rain.  Life is good.  Eternity will be awesome.  It is the waiting that is frustrating.

homo unius libri

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Opus 2012-287, Plow and Crown: The Seductive Siren of Socialism

This was a watershed election.  It wasn’t because the candidates were of different philosophies, it was because of the will of the people.  For the first time I feel that a majority of the voters voted for the elusive dream of socialism.  They voted for a world in which the government can supply all their needs simply by taxing the rich.  They voted for a world in which they are no longer expected to work and pay their way.  They voted for unicorns and the other guys wallet.

I came up with the phrase “The Seductive Siren of Socialism.” 

If I remember my mythology correctly the Sirens were creatures that Odysseus wanted to hear so he had his crew stuff their ears and tie him to the mast.  They also lived on the rocks of the rivers of Germany.  The Sirens would sing and their song was so beautiful that it drew sailors toward them.  It was so beautiful that the sailors would stop paying attention to sailing the ship and they would be destroyed when they ran aground on the rock.

We now have enough Americans who believe that goods and services are provided by the decree of the government instead of the risk, hard work and productivity of a free market system.  They believe that we can produce clean energy simply because the government has decreed it will happen.  They believe that people will continue to show up for work when their neighbor is sleeping in and living off a government issued EBT card.  They believe that students will learn if we just build their self esteem enough.  Their belief is in the state, even if they call themselves Christian.

Will the world end?  No.  Life will go on but it will simply be more dull with less options and a bleak future.  I wish you could go back in time and take a trip from West Berlin into East Berlin before the wall came down.  It was like Dorothy going back to Kansas.  It was literally black and white instead of technicolor. 

So welcome to the future.  The Siren has sung.  She turned out to be the fat lady.  Now get back to your couch, I need to get back to work.  Someone has to pay the bills.

homo unius libri

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Opus 2012-286, Discernment Watch: Fanatics

I am reading a book called The Gunpowder Plot.  It is about, surprisingly enough, the Gunpowder Plot.  Go figure.

I came across an interesting sentence that I thought reflects the thinking of our elitist classes.  It went like this,
“One might add in parenthesis that a conversion of this sort, a rejection of youthful misdemeanours (sic), a ricochet towards ardent piety, has been the sign of many fanatics in history, not all evil but some sanctified (such as St. Augustine).”, p. 50
The comment is about a young Catholic raised in Protestant England in the 16th century.  As he grew older he lived a wild life until he seems to have become serious about his faith.  At that point he reformed his behavior and later became involved in a plot to blow up Parliament and King James.

I will concede that blowing up the government might be a bit over the top, but what we see here is a popular and successful author labeling as fanatics all people who become serious about their faith and try to live it.  Notice that she labels Augustine as a fanatic.  It would follow that anyone who gets devout in their faith and lets it influence how they live is a fanatic. 

It is this thinking that brings forth comments like “cling to their Bibles and their guns.”  It is this thinking that goes through life with the assumption that anyone who seriously believes in Jesus and allows that to reform their life is a simple minded, red-necked, naive boob.

Be aware of how this thinking pervades our culture.  Keep in mind that these “fanatics” are the ones who built colleges, founded hospitals, ended slavery, and countless other staples in our lives that we take for granted.

I guess I am a fanatic and have no problem with that.

Fraser, Antonia.  The Gunpowder Plot, Terror and Faith in 1605.  London:  Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1996.

homo unius libri

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Opus 2012-285, What Is the Difference?

How would you explain the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats?  I get this question occasionally and on a few instances it was a sincere question.  There are so many differences that you could go into but people get glazed over looks and have to battle all the half-truth talking points they learned at school and on the tube.  So how do you put it short and sweet?

I think I have an idea of the basic difference in philosophy and I can give it without making any put downs.  My position is clear and I think it gives me a handle on all the foggy ones.  The difference is found in who can do the best job of dealing with the issues of life.

Republicans think that individuals and families do the best job of dealing with life.

Democrats think that government has the best answers.

That is the root.  If you go beyond that you begin to pick up baggage and emotions that cloud the issues.  The basic difference is simple but life is not.  When you get into the real world application, a black and white principle must be forced into many shades of gray.  I hope that means that although we will always disagree on the basic philosophy, we might be able to find some compromises that will make both sides feel like they are being heard.

How to make that happen is another question.  It requires people who really want to find solutions rather than just win and I don’t see many like that on my radar.

Maybe you have better radar.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Opus 2012-284, Why Did Obama Win?

All the pundits are trying to slice and dice to find an answer.  I have a simple one for you:  He got more votes.  This was a solid win, both popular vote and electoral college. 

Was the media in his tank?  Sure, no question about that.

Did the Democrats cheat?  Sure, after all they are Democrats.  I am sure there were Republicans cheating too, but in this current generation we are not as good at it as they are.

Did certain ethnic groups vote with zombie like devotion?  Yes.

Did certain cultural groups vote with socialist devotion?  Yes.

Did the 47% show up?  You betcha.

Was it a genuine, resounding victory?  Yes.  It was a mandate.  It tells those of us who are out of step, what the tune is:  Socialized medicine, government handouts, nanny state, and blame a “have” for all your “have nots.” 

Get used to it.  It will get worse.  You ain’t seen nothing yet.  Remember, Our Deranged Leader is planning on being even more flexible after the election.  That is now.  I wonder what the first unconstitutional executive order will be? 

As California has gone, so goes the nation.

Pray for the president’s health.  Remember that the alternative is Joe Biden.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Opus 2012-283, Election Day Report

An early report in Kalifornia is that the line was longer at the opening of the doors than  I have ever seen it.  I don’t know what was motivating people.  It can’t be any of the elected offices because The People’s Republik is so in the tank for the left that I vote from habit and duty not expectation.

But I was excited.  I kept thinking about the Iraqi voters with their purple fingers and how excited they were.  What a country!

A bit of good news, a "the glass is half full" type of thing.  I heard the lady explain to the person ahead of me that people on the list either had an “A” or a “N” by their name for active or non-active.  If they were labeled as inactive, which included first time voters, they had to show ID.  As I said, it is only half a glass, but it is a step in the right direction.

I wait to see how the rest of the country will influence the direction of the country.  If you want to see where you are going with an Obama reelection, just look at Kalifornia.  We are the basket case state.  We are on the verge of bankruptcy, we have out of sight unemployment, our schools are at the bottom of the pile, our infrastructure is crumbling and in the last election we celebrated by going even further to the left.

Is this coming soon to a state near you?

homo unius libri

Opus 2012-282, An Election Day Prayer


We have heard it said that people get the government they deserve.  Let it not be so.  We know our hearts and our lives.  We know how short we are in the area of worthiness.  So today start by forgiving our sins and renewing our hearts.  Make us into the servants we are meant to be for this day.

And guide us as we exercise this strange privilege called voting.  Let Your will be done today, Lord. 

And tomorrow, Lord, give us the grace to move forward into the future you have provided.  No matter what individuals are elected help us to realize that they will all need to be watched and have their feet held to the fire.  You caused Pharaoh to let your people go.  You arranged a sabbatical for Ezra and Nehemiah.  We are told that You can raise up children of Abraham from the very stones of the ground.  It should be a snap to get a bunch of politicians to act like they knew what truth and morality were. 

Let it be so.

I for one will trust You tomorrow, just as I do today.

Thank you for the liberty and plenty I enjoy.  Make your people a blessing.  I love You.

I pray in the name of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Opus 2012-281, Discernment Watch: The Price of Gas

I am sure you have noticed.  The price of gas is going down.  Out here in The Welfare State of Kalifornia it is very dramatic.  The price is down all the way to where it started a month ago.  How is your attention span?  You can remember a month ago, right?  Don’t get excited about the lower price.  It only looks low because it was jacked up over the past month. 

Let’s assume you have some memory left.  Turn back your clock four years.  Do you remember how much gas was then?  Neither do I.  I have heard the price quoted by politicians but you know what that is worth.  What do we do?  Google it.  One chart I found goes back eight years and shows the price of gas on George Bushes last Christmas in the White House at $1.61 a gallon.  Are you still excited about how low gas is now?  You can check out other comparisons if you have the time.

There are different reasons for this variation.  One is a matter of business and profits.  Understand the psychology of pricing.  When you want to raise a price you jump real high and then back off to where you wanted to go.  People are short sighted so they only see the decrease.  They pay more and are happy.

Then there is the cynic in me.  Isn’t it strange that days before a big election the price of gas would take a nose dive compared to the week before?  I wonder why?  I do have one suggestion for you.  Make sure that you fill your tank today.  You may never see this low price again.

homo unius libri

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Opus 2012-280, How About a Vote of “No Confidence?”

After reading the concerns of The Lazy Farmer and Georges Grouse I must say I hear both and again lean more toward holding my nose and voting for the lesser of two evils because it is not really the lesser of two evils.

Romney is not evil in any secular sense.  As a Christian I have no place for his Mormon faith, but evaluating from a secular point of view it is a lot more in keeping with the traditions of American than the man who attended a church for twenty years where the pastor proclaimed, “God damn America” from the pulpit.  My fear is that he may be like both Bushes and be just too nice a guy to do the house cleaning that is necessary.

My contribution in trying to come to terms with this election and voting third party is this:  Think like you were involved in a Parliamentary system.  Think of this as a vote of “No confidence.”  In a parliamentary system they can throw out the prime minister by a vote of no confidence.  Face the fact that voting for a third party is in reality a vote for Obama.  We have an Electoral College that will throw my vote for Obama no matter what I do in California, but many of you will actually make a difference in who is issuing Executive Orders, nominating supreme court justices, appointing the Secretary of Defense and Attorney General, who will have major input into the direction of the country.  I think a man who would pick Paul Ryan shows a lot more wisdom than one who picks Joe Biden.

We only have a few days.  I pray that we would all exercise wisdom and be able to look back and say we really did the best we could.  I offer that with the awareness that I could be the one who is wrong, not in arrogance. 

homo unius libri

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Opus 2012-279, On the Street: National Anthem Style

Every year around Thanksgiving two of the high schools in our town have an annual football game which they call the Turkey Tussle.  It is a local version of the USC/UCLA game.  At the middle school where I teach the kids compete in a flag football game that they call the Tweety Tussle.  Every year has a different feel.  This year was good fun with one team having a QB/Deep Receiver combo that would have done some high schools proud.

What I will always remember about the day is the singing of the National Anthem.  A young lady did the honors and sang it A Capella.  It was soon clear to me why.  She had a nice voice and started off, sounding good.  Then she came to a note that was out of her range.  Without a pause of any kind she changed keys and kept singing.  Then she reach a note that was out of her range.  She changed keys again.  The entire song went this way.  She never sang more than three or four measures without changing keys.  Within each segment everything was in the proper place.  I found it very jarring, but I am used to working with kids.  They have to learn somewhere. 

The problem I saw is the same one I see in public education.  There was not teaching going on.  It was all about self esteem.  I would guess that most of the adults and kids are so musically illiterate that they did not even notice the problem.  They cheered like a bunch of blue hairs when Kate Smith sang “God Bless America.”  The child went away thinking she had done a great job.

We don’t want to make kids stretch to do it right.  It is all about feeling good about whatever you do.  Excellence and achievement are things of the past.  We talk about rigor and change keys every few beats.  We talk about having high standards and simplify the vocabulary of every new edition of text book.  We talk about progress but don’t study history because we would find out that we are really going backward.

I think of that young lady who was singing.  With the proper training and a rigorous practice schedule she could broaden her range and be proud of her achievements.  Now she feels good but someday she will need to sing with a piano and it won’t change keys.

I think we ought to find the oldest breathing retired teachers and put them in charge of all our school districts with dictatorial powers.    Harsh discipline and repetition might be painful in the short run but would pay off in the long haul.

Whatever we are doing now isn’t working. 

homo unius libri

Friday, November 2, 2012

Opus 2012-278, Ode to Old: Still Planting Trees

When you get to a certain age what is the point of long term planning?   For instance, I am no longer buying hard bound books unless they are volumes I think my children would want to keep, read and cherish.  Paperbacks will live longer than I will at this point.  Why keep records and write?  And yet we do.  We look to the future and make plans. 

I was having this conversation with a man older than I am and asked him, “Why do old men plant trees?”  The answer, of course, is for future generations.  Many of us have gotten past trying for the most toys and want to make the world better for our children and grandchildren.  And we want to make it better for your decedents too. 

Alistair Begg (yes, again) was talking about how any day you can get your legs over the edge of the bed means that God is not through with you yet.  No matter how old, used up, or dried up we are, if we are able to get up and move and believe in the sovereignty of God, it means He has something for us.  I like that.  It helps me ignore the aches and pains.  It encourages me to laugh at my senior moments and cherish the time I have left.

So go out and plant a tree.  You may not live to see the difference, but someone will.

homo unius libri

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Opus 2012-277, Cornerstone Considerations: D of I, Truths: God, Again

If there is a division of the ways in the road America is to follow it comes here.  We all like the idea of having rights but we differ on two things, what those rights are and who grants us those rights.  The Founding Fathers were clear on who grants those rights.
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,...
After reading this I have my students answer the question, “Where do our rights come from?”  Most students will answer, “The government.”  Another group throws in all kinds of creative answers.  A few will actually pay attention to what they read and answer, “God.”

Our country is based on the belief that our rights are from God, not the government.  That means that no government or politician can take those rights away from us.  It means that those rights cannot be changed, edited or adjusted to the cultural norms of the days. 

Don’t let the phoney mantra of “separation of church and state” divert you from the central truth that was agreed on by the men at the Constitutional Convention.  God is the author of our freedom, period.  There may have been many different understandings of this God and how He was involved with mankind but He was the God of the Bible in general terms. 

Without the God of the Bible we will not long have the rights we are used to.

homo unius libri