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.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Opus 2013-206: Why So Many Bibles?, part 1 of 3, Purpose of Translation

Have you noticed how many different Bible translations are available?  Why can’t we just have one accurate version that we can all agree on? 

Part of the issue is a desire to make this important document understandable.  Some translations are done with a very limited vocabulary.  They set an educational level and try to make it understandable to that demographic.  Thus a children’s Bible would have simpler language than a Bible for adults. 

Sometimes the goal is to update the language.  English is constantly evolving.  Words change their meaning.  A good example is
(Mark 10:14 KJV)  But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
A modern translation puts it differently.
(Mark 10:14 NAS77)  But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, "Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
“Suffer” used to mean to allow something.  We study the Women’s Suffrage movement in history.  It was an attempt to allow women to vote. 

Another reason to have a different translation is to push your own opinions or beliefs.  The most example of this is the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  In it they have deliberately translated portions to show their view of truth.  No Christian scholars agree with how they translate those sections.  They do it to make it say what they want.  While they consider it necessary the rest of us consider it dishonest.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Opus 2013-205: Lesser of Two Evils

Have you noticed the way in which Nazi thugs are being substituted for Muslim terrorists?  Or the replacements could be Neo-Nazis or skin-heads.  Of course Evangelical Christians can also be the villain.  I remember reading a review of a movie made from a book.  In the book the bad guys were Muslims.  In the movie they were Nazis.  No one seemed to care.

Why?  One reason, of course, could just be political correctness.  We live in a world that hates traditional morality, the idea of objective truth and Christianity.  Anything that can be done to undermine those is a winner in the eyes of media and education.  But I think the reason is a bit more crass.

I think the problem is cowardice.  I think that the people in government and the chattering classes are scared spitless to say anything that might upset the Muslims.  It is okay to put a cross in urine and call it art.  Christians are not known for rioting and killing because of such nonsense.  Draw a picture of Mohammed and the entire Middle East erupts in violence.  We have numerous books and movies making Jesus into all kinds of strange creatures.  No violence.  We have a silly video on You Tube criticizing Mohammed and they blame Benghazi on it.  In the recent scandals about accessing the e-mails and phone calls of Americans we have discovered that the most likely place to find evidence of terrorism, mosques, have been exempted from examination.   This is just another example of the weak kneed leaders we have.

It is a sad day when the press, government and publishers are more afraid of the Muslims than they are of the Nazis but that is the kind of world we seem to live in.  These people sit and watch the violence and somehow think that if they play nice noone will ever come for them.

They will get a real education if the world they are trying to create ever gets here.  It will be hard to be a sexy weather woman from behind a veil. 

homo unius libri

Friday, June 28, 2013

Opus 2013-204: Glucose and Grace, part 2 of 2

How do the Law and grace weave a canopy of salvation?

Possibly an example might be the place of overeating and obesity in relation to diabetes.  From what I have read, if you have the diabetic gene you have a strong tendency toward coming down with diabetes.  Gluttony, eating the wrong foods and lack of exercise can bring it on sooner or more severely.  How does overeating effect someone without the diabetes gene?  There are consequences, yet they do not get diabetes.  At least they don’t get it easily.  I am not convinced it can’t happen.  They may instead have a heart attack, cancer, stroke or who knows what else but they won’t get diabetes.  They may die from complications but from a different origin.  They definitely won’t be healthy. 

This could illustrate the tension between the Law and grace.  There is a reason for the Law.  Lack of obedience will make a difference.  It can cause serious complications in our lives.  It is possible that lack of discipline does not send us to hell.  It will ruin our lives. 

Just as eating in moderation leads to a more pleasant life, living in obedience will lead to more joy and peace.  As an Arminian and not a Calvinist, I think it is more important than that, but at the least for one of Reform theology it should still make a difference.

Live in obedience.  Why take a chance?

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-203: Glucose and Grace, part 1 of 2

Warning to sceptics, pagans and unbelievers:  This is an excursion into speculative theology.  If that really, really bores you, come back tomorrow.

I was thinking about how Christians say we are under grace, not Law.  We say this because we recognize that our salvation comes as a gift of God.  It is not something we earn.  Some try to use this as license to behave without restriction.  Paul faced that in the early church.  Some people were saying that if they sinned more and they were saved by grace it would multiply the amount of grace and that would be good.  So they encouraged people to sin.  You realize when you read this that crazy sophists have been around for a long time.

Paul responded to these people. 
(Romans 6:1-2 KJV)  What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Grace did not destroy the Law.  Remember the words of Jesus.
(Matthew 5:17 KJV)  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Grace did not make righteous living unnecessary.  There has always a conflict in Christian circles about the place of righteous living which is a way of saying the Law is important.  All would agree it is a good thing in general but some seem to think it is optional.  What is the place of law when you live under grace?  Do you need to follow the rules?

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Opus 2013-202: New Terms: Mars and Venus

Our culture is changing.  I see it very clearly in the sphere of education.  I assume it is happening in other spheres.  We are getting more women in places of leadership and they bring with them the distinct way in which women view the world.  It makes a difference in how things are done and what the priorities are.  It is becoming the dominant approach.  It is part of the reason that education is going down hill. 

Because people are so sensitive and we have so much confusion in gender roles, it won’t do any more to call it the “feminine” approach.  We need something more value neutral.  I propose that we replace the traditional designations of  “male” and “female” with “Mars” and “Venus.”  This is taken from the series of books that began with Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray.  There are certain characteristics that we link with each category and if we can divorce them from the gender link we can talk about them without generating some very Venus type emotional responses.

Mars is what used to be associated with the masculine mystic.  Strong discipline with clear rules. 
Clear goals and no nonsense.  Don’t tell me how you feel, tell me what you did.  Venus is what used to be associated with the feminine side.  Emotion and intuition ruled the field.  It is more important to feel good about ourselves than be successful.

Traditionally the two approaches have balanced each other out.  Because it is more aggressive Mars has seemed to dominate but Venus has always been powerful.  What we see now is that Venus is not only stronger but is driving any input by Mars out of the discussion.  Education is totally in the control of Venus.  We don’t discipline, we counsel.  Bullying is the big issue of the day and teachers are beginning to be identified as the biggest bullies.  Self-esteem is more important than skill or knowledge. 

Public assistance has changed.  In the past, Mars demanded that the resources go to the deserving poor.  Work was expected.  Standards were maintained.  Now the basic line is not need or worthiness, just a lack of what you want.  We call people poor who have air-conditioning, HD TV and a second car.  Venus runs welfare based on happiness and handouts rather than seeking self reliance.  The goal seems to be to make the giver feel good rather than really help the receiver.

If we don’t see the pendulum swing back we will see not only the destruction of public education but also of society at large.  

homo unius libri

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Opus 2013-201: On the Street: More Regulation, Please

Another billboard caught my attention on the way to work.  It showed a new breakfast item at a fast food chain.  It looked really good.  Since I am counting calories I wondered how many and noticed that the board did not say.  Calories are like gas prices.  If they don’t tell you how much, it is too high.  But there is no requirement for them to show the nutrition on the bill board.  In the People’s Republik chain restaurants are required to make nutrition information easily available to consumers.  Federal law requires food items in grocery stores to be labeled with everything you ever wanted to know about the content of the package. 

Maybe it is time for the next step.  Maybe the nanny state is being negligent in their concern to keep me safe, and who cares about liberty.  How about requiring that every advertisement of a food item give full disclosure of nutrition.  It could apply to magazines, TV and billboards.  It wouldn’t matter if you had time to read it.  We need to be protected. 

Write your congressman if you feel you need to be sheltered.   Tell them you found a weak link in the chains of control they are trying to impose.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Opus 2013-200: On the Street: Ubiquitous TV

I am on the road as I write.  I have checked my baggage, been patted down and made it to the waiting area for my flight.  I found a live plug to power my PC.  I am in hog heaven.

One little problem.  There is a TV just above my head and it is spewing out all of the nonsense that I am able to avoid at home.  When I go to a doctor’s office I can often turn it off or down.  Here it is near the ceiling and out of reach.  Surrounding me are people trying to concentrate and I notice that they keep looking up at some noise that catches their attention.  One young lady keeps twisting around to watch.  She could do it comfortably by moving to a new seat but that doesn’t seem to occur to her.

We have smoke free zones.  We have gun free zones.  We have nude beaches (cloths free zones).  Why can’t we have noise free zones?  Now that would be a bit of Nanny State that I could embrace.

It will never happen though.  If we had no TV blasting we might need to read or think or have a conversation with someone important.  We might find time to realize how we are being dumbed down.  We might vote different.

I guess it will never happen.

homo unius libri

Monday, June 24, 2013

Opus 2013-199: Book Review: Creative History

I am always on the lookout for a new author.  I like many types of fiction as long as it is fast paced and not too dependent on being in a drugged stupor. 

I thought I had found one in David Gibbins.  I began reading his book, Crusader Gold, and asked myself what was there not to like.  You had an archeologist on the search for a breakthrough in historical artifacts.  He is noble, not just after the money.  He is going to maintain his integrity at all costs.  There is a hint of action from previous adventures telling me there are books I had missed that I could look for.  Gibbins writes well and have a good cast of characters.

As I read, though, the historical facts didn’t seem to quite add up.  He had notes in the back explaining the basis for his conjectures and what was true as opposed to imagination.  In a well written book you can learn a lot of history.  It is understood that there will be creativity.  That I don’t have any trouble with.  But the more I read the more trouble I had with his view of history.

Then I came across the following bit of dialogue.  See if you can pick out what my problem was.
“Sounds like the Pilgrim fathers in America, at Jamestown,” Jack said.  “Hemmed in by hostile natives, plagued by starvation and disease.”  page 251.
Do you see it?  I hate to point out to the professionals but the Pilgrims were not at Jamestown, they were in Plymouth.  They also got along very well with the locals.  It could have just been a slip of the type.  It happens.  What is troubling that in the editing and proofreading no single person knew enough history to pick this out.

Then at the end he throughly throws away any credibility.  In the final scene of the book he had this archeologist casting a priceless, historic relic into the ocean to make the spirit of an ancient king rest in peace.  No real archeologist would do such a thing. 

I don’t think I will be looking for more titles by Gibbin.  I have enough confusion in my sense of history, I don’t need someone adding to it.

Gibbins, David.  Crusader Gold.  New York:  Bantam Dell, 2008.

homo unius libri

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Opus 2013-198: Where Have All the Jobs Gone

I have students at school bragging that they are going to make more money than I do, they are going to drive a trash truck.  They may be right.  What they don’t realize is that trash collection is just another example of why they may not get a job. 

Think of the history of trash collection.  Yes, I am sure it has a history.  Everything has a history.  One of the greatest sources of history are called kitchen middens.  They are the places, outside the back door, where ancient households dumped their trash.  Eventually, locations outside town might have been used.  There are still places in our country where people load up a trailer with their trash and take it to the dump. 

I can remember watching the trash trucks when I was a kid in Southern California.  They would be high sided and open, with steps around the outside for the trash men.  When the trucks came by they would be swarming with men who would jump off, pick up your can, upend it over the side of the truck and jump back on.  If they were really good the truck did not even come to a full stop.  They would proceed down the street leaving a trail of empty trash cans, some of them still bouncing.  This was labor intensive.  You did not need a college degree to get a job. 

Today we have these behemoth machines run by one man.  He sits behind the wheel working levers.  The hydraulics do all the work.  I am guessing that you need a special license and training to work this monster.  It looks like fun for a few minutes and monotony the rest of your life.

The problem is that where a dozen jobs used to exist, now there is one. 

Just another example of technology at work.  Will your job be next?

homo unius libri

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Opus 2013-197: You Can’t Have It Both Ways

A couple of years ago I started reading a novel called The Thieves of Darkness.  I didn’t finish it.  Sometimes a person’s point of view gets in the way of the story. 

The author made a big point about Muslims, Jews and Christians coexisting in Istanbul.  He proclaimed they lived peacefully and without violence.  All was sweetness and light. 

I kept reading and a few pages later he mentioned that one church they were passing by was one of the few that had not been turned into a mosque when the city was conquered.  I felt like I had come into the presence of one of my eighth graders who doesn’t listen and is incapable of putting two thoughts together.  You see, these two concepts don’t go too well together. 

On one hand you have a culture in which Islam is dominant being described as tolerant and benevolent.  Then you point out that a city that was once a major center of Christianity had seen its churches confiscated and transformed to the use of another religion.  Which view is more accurate? 

I am thinking that the romantic view of history has little to do with reality.  Just because you feel good about something and want it to be that way does not mean it really is that way.  Islam has systematically worked to destroy the Christian faith it conquered with the sword.  It started with the simple pressure of higher taxes.  Those who were not serious about their faith made quick conversions.  Then you got into the kind of pressures that the Nazis put on the Jews, distinctive clothing and limited neighborhoods.  Children were easily influenced to leave the faith of their parents.  Eventually you kidnaped the children of Christians, forced them to convert and serve in the armies of Islam.  Finally you get to physical violence and death.

It continues in Iraq, Iran and Egypt today.  Much of the killing and violence you hear about in Africa and Southeast Asia involves Muslims killing Christians.  Christians are being murdered and their homes and churches are being destroyed.  You won’t see it much in the news but it is going on as I write.

If you are a believer, pray for the persecuted brothers and sisters.  If you are not then put on your Cap of Concern for Justice and put some pressure on our political leaders.

And keep in mind it is coming to a neighborhood near you.  You may not like the church bells that wake you up on Sunday morning.  Fine.  I support your right to complain.  When the mosques are built in your town you will hear the call five times a day and if you protest you will be labeled a hater, or worse.

You might become the target of the “Ultimate Solution.”

homo unius libri

Friday, June 21, 2013

Opus 2013-196: The Welcome Mat Is Out

Why do people keep returning to the Parable of the Prodigal Son?  Maybe because they see themselves in it.  Maybe because it has so many lessons and examples for us.  Like many stories that Jesus told, it is misnamed.  It is more about the love of the father than the nature of the son.  Or sons, remember there were two of them and the father loved them both.

The father and his love represent the love of God.  The father did not go out looking for the son, he waited for the son to make the decision to come to the family again.  He had laid the groundwork.  It doesn’t say it in the text but I can imagine the father saying as the boy left, “Remember that you are always my son, this is still your home and the welcome mat is always out.”  It is certainly what I would have said.  One danger of interpreting parables is the way we keep moving away from the basic point being made.  Here it is the forgiveness of God.  People try to make it an explanation of how grace works.  Not so.  There is no evidence the father sent out search parties.  He may have known the kid was coming back, who knows, but there is no indication.  He did not need to know all the things the boy had done, one sniff was enough.  I don’t know if you have been around pigs but they have a distinctive aroma that just won’t go away.

What we do know is that if we are willing to get out of the pig pen, turn our faces toward the Father and approach Him, we will be welcome.

Years after making that journey I still find it comforting.

homo unius libri

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Opus 2013-195: On the Street: Traffic Relief or Travel Relief?

Advertising works, even if it is nonsense. 

I was driving down the freeway and saw a billboard.  It said, “Traffic relief in the works.”  It showed signs of busses and trains.  It was a sign advertising the metro.  It’s concept was that somehow more buses will produce traffic relief.  Maybe so but it won’t produce travel relief.

This kind of thing will only work on people who have never been forced into mass transit.  I realize that when you only know busses and trains your lack of experience means ignorance but if you have tasted both mass and private transportation you know one is vastly superior.

I have taken mass transit.  Somehow I don’t see standing in the sun and rain waiting for it to be convenient for a bus driver to arrive is a good definition of traffic relief.  Or back East, standing in the freezing rain and snow waiting for the train as the wind destroyed the tissue of my ears, take your pick.  Even in rush hour public transportation adds significantly to the amount of time it takes to get from point A to point B, or within a half mile if the routes are not where you want to go. 

I also have a hard time enjoying pressing myself in with a bunch of smelly bodies and being thrown around by stopping and starting.  Just as a note of safety, if you keep your doors locked, muggings don’t generally happen in your own car and I have never had my pocket picked on the freeway. 

Traffic relief?  Total unemployment would certainly reduce the traffic.  Also, maybe moving out of California would be something that would reduce the density of traffic.

The government is working on the first solution and I am working on the second. 

homo unius libri

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Opus 2013-194: Being Commatose

I was proofreading a post and came across a startling statement, “I am sorry I have a life.”  Somehow that didn’t seem to be what I was saying.  It only took a moment to realize I had left out a comma.

It should have said, “I am sorry, I have a life.” 

It certainly changes the meaning.  The commas of life are important.  It is that “stop” or “pause” in “stop and smell the roses.” 

Add a few commas today. 

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-193: Better with Time?, part 4 of 4, Jesus

Jesus led me in the other direction.  The more I learned the more sense it made.  Contradictions became complementary details.   It appealed to my knowledge of history, my sense of logic and my ability to reason.  The more I knew, the better it held together.

I read books like Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict and saw solid evidence that made the claims of orthodox Christianity consistent with what I knew about the world.  I read Fingerprint of God by Hugh Ross who is trained as a physicist and astronomer. 

I have greatly enjoyed Conflict of Visions by Thomas Sowell.  He presents the two sides of the philosophical debate from a totally secular perspective.  He gives his sources.  His two camps of philosophy are the Constrained and the Unconstrained.  These match up with the Bibles two camps of the world that denies sin and the Bible which deals with sin.

Of course I have read and studied the Bible.  I went to seminary but most of what I have learned has come from my own study and thought.  I believe that a person of good will who is able to think and has an open mind will come down on the side of the Bible.  Obviously others would disagree with me but the more I see, the more I believe.

The journey continues.  My eclectic knowledge grows.  My experiences multiply.  As a result of this journey I have grown on the topics of evolution and Jesus, but in opposite directions.  The more science discovers the weaker the case for evolution becomes.  The case for Jesus gets better with age.

Forward without fear.

homo unius libri

Monday, June 17, 2013

Opus 2013-192: On the Street: Misguided Friends

I was in the car with my wife and she had the radio on, listening to Sean Hannity.  He was interviewing a congressman who supposedly had his act together.  They were talking about one of the current scandals.  Hannity asked if any crimes had been commited.  The congressman said, “Some things were illegal but I don’t know if they were criminal.”  Excuse me!  Just how can something be illegal and not be criminal?  The only type of thing that fits that category is jaywalking.  Having the federal government embroiled in a major scandal is hardly jaywalking. 

This from one who was supposedly on our side.  At times I despair.

It just goes to show that we can never stop thinking, even when our “friends” are talking.  It seems that being in Washington, D.C. does something to our basic sense of values and it isn’t good.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-191: Better with Time?, part 3 of 4, Intelligence

Crichton at least saw the problem and tried to work with it.  He was what I would call an Honest Evolutionist.  Wrong, but honest.  Another form of the breed is the Confused or Dishonest Evolutionist.  This would be people like Richard Dawkins.  I don’t know if you saw the documentary by Ben Stein called Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed.  The film is an up-front attempt to present the case for Intelligent Design as an option for Natural Selection.  One of the people interviewed was Richard Dawkins who makes the rounds mocking people who believe in God.  When Stein asked Dawkins about the problem of inadequate time for the development of intelligent life and how he explained it Dawkins said he thought the source of intelligence was either crystals or aliens, you know the kind from outer space.  I had a hard time not disrupting the theater with my laughter. 

I know that this is one of the big problems with evolution and the time limits that science is putting on the process.  The people who are true believers in evolution are trapped between the age of the universe and the time needed for change to happen.  The two don’t mesh.  As a result of this one of the constant themes I see in science fiction is to explain the source of life and intelligence.  Like Dawkins, they tend to go with aliens.  Of course that ignores the problem that if you believe in evolution those aliens would have needed to evolve also and if there was not time for it to evolve on earth based on the age of the universe, there would be even less time for aliens who came before.

So evolution just does not measure up to the scientific data.  It doesn’t allow for the emergence of life.  It doesn’t explain the development of intelligence.  Of course that doesn’t mean that creation is the answer either but it takes less “blind faith” than a theory based on chance with inadequate time.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Opus 2013-190: A Devotional for Fathers’ Day

A few days ago I was thinking about my father and his example.  Since Father’s Day was approaching I thought I might pass it on.

I remember one time we were in a place where he had to lead in prayer.  I don’t know how old I was but I was too young to drive.  I was awestruck at how eloquent he was.  I had heard him pray over meals and such but we never had what you would call “family devotions.”  I had never seen this side of him.  He was a self-employed concrete man.  He could build anything that involved cement and he was good at leaning on the hood of his pickup chewing the fat with the customer while we did the grunt labor.  He was not someone you think of as a public speaker.

In Christian circles there are many people assume if you don’t have daily family devotions your kids will all go to hell.  They tend to ignore the evidence before their eyes.  We never had family devotions and yet all four of my father’s son grew up to serve the lord.  I think it is more important that you live a consistent Christian life and model it than to have a daily ritual in our families.  I guess both would be better yet, but if I had to chose I would go for the modeling.

My father lived it and didn’t preach it.  That is preferable to talking the talk without walking the walk.

Happy Father’s Day.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-189: Fathers’ Day, Happy?

As anybody knows who has been out of the house in the past week, today is Father’s Day.  Or is it Fathers’ Day?  As a middle school teacher in the public school system I see firsthand the crumbling of our culture that is happening because this day is becoming an empty ritual.  It is kind of like Christians going out to eat on Sunday or union members going shopping on Labor Day.   Fathers are being removed from the lives of our young people and we are just beginning to collect the dividends. 

We just went through the meaningless ritual of promotion from middle school to high school.  It was meaningless because we received direct orders from our district that made it possible for students to participate with two failures.  That changed our promoting class from 67 out of 218 to 185.  It gave me a chance to interact with some parents and I noticed something that came as no surprise.  Most of my top students seem to have fathers who are involved in their lives.  It really makes a difference. 

Being a father is becoming a lost art.  I wish I could get across how important fathers are.  Because of welfare, no fault divorce and the “why buy the cow when the milk is free” syndrom the young men who might have stepped into the role are remaining little boys who are too busy playing with their toys to grow up.  They impregnate women and brag about it.  The word “pimp” has become a compliment.  And the women seem to be going along with it.

I am grateful that I had a father who accepted responsibility, set an example and loved his wife and children.  I am grateful that I have two children who are in agreement with my values and don’t seem to be ashamed to spend time with me.

At least in my world it is a Happy Father’s Day.

I hope you can say the same.

homo unius libri

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Opus 2013-188: Better with Time?, part 2 of 4, Evolution

The first thing I remember about evolution was an animated feature that showed how different creatures could experience a small change and have it morph into something permanent.  The film was well done and it made sense.  Evolution was planted in my mind.  As I got older I began to learn more about science and biology.  I read and thought.  I began to see how complex life was.  After a time the gaps in the logic of evolution began to be too big to pass over.  I discovered that it wasn’t a matter of “missing links” but that all the links were missing.  I realized that some of the steps in the fossil record had entire creatures constructed from one or two pieces of bone. 

I have come to realize that even people who are convinced about evolution are aware of its weak points.  Michael Crichton was one of those.  In his novel The Lost World, he goes into some of the problems with evolutionary theory.  It was an interesting sample of the twisted logic that is necessary to believe in evolution in the face of the facts.  He even falls back on one of the lines that I have read as an argument against evolution.  He is discussing all of the simultaneous changes that needed to take place in order to squeeze evolution into the time available.  His point is that it could not happen.  In the paperback edition, on page 227, he says,
“And to imagine all these things happen purely by chance is like imagining that a tornado can hit a junkyard and assemble the parts into a working 747 airplane.  It’s very hard to believe.”
If you want to read his whole discussion get the paperback and start around page 225. 

To be continued...

Crichton, Michael.  The Lost World.  New York:  Ballantine Books, 1995.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-187: Better with Time? part 1 of 4

Some things in life get better with time, others go down hill.  Sometimes that is a matter of taste as in “fine” wines or cheeses.  Since I can’t stand the smell of alcohol it is hard to believe that wine can get better, but that’s what they tell me.  If you don’t like sharp cheese then time is your enemy.

Sometimes it is a matter of maturing.  Two of the big concepts of life touched me and have matured with me, evolution and salvation.  When I was in junior high school I was introduced to the theory of evolution.  When I was in high school I was introduced to Jesus.  I can now look back on both from the experience of years and a growing understanding of the world and how it works.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Friday, June 14, 2013

Opus 2013-186: On the Street: Now or Never, or Forever?

Perhaps you have seen the billboard.  It has a four-pose picture of a celebrity named Beyonce.  She is obviously a sex symbol based on the pictures I was seeing.  I think she is a singer.  I know the name but that is about all.

The theme of the poster was, “Live for now.”  That pretty well sums up our culture.  Government has adopted the short term view.  Buy votes.  Give the people what they want.  Who cares if it destroys the future.  Live for now.

Business has bought in.  If I understand correctly, what we have in the business community are people with a lot of money buying up solid companies that have earned a profit for years and provided jobs for millions of people.  They then proceed to sell off whatever will bring in cash, change policies that will bring in short term profits at the expense of the long view and then when it is on the verge of collapse, sell out, take their money and run.  Live for now.

Education is teaching to the text.  They deny it.  They lie.  There is a new sheriff in town that has national momentum.  It is called Common Core Curriculum.  It is not even in place and already the shift is changing from teaching for the old test to teaching to the new test.  Our computer labs are set up for teachers to take classes in and take practice tests which are offered on line.  They have built it and people are coming.  Will this prepare students for the future and life?  Consider that history and science are going to be tested through the language arts test.  Live for now. 

The churches are pulling in their horns and denying their basic beliefs.  They are editing the Bible to fit the current cultural standards on justice, law, homosexuality, sexuality, marriage, the resurrection and sin.  In the process they are becoming just another tool of the state.  Someday those of us who insist on accepting the Bible as the word of God will face persecution.  The jury is still out on whether is will be softball, as in being barred from employment and higher education, to hard ball with prison camps.  Live for now.

I prefer to live for the future.  It may not be popular but I will continue to teach basic skills of research and historical facts.  I will continue to encourage open discussion and free speech.  I will do the best I can for my children and future generations.  I refuse to live for now.

I will live for eternity.  This world is not all there is.  I have read the book, I know who wins.  I refuse to live for now.

Have you made your choice yet?  Remember that no choice is a choice to live for now.

homo unius libri

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Opus 2013-185: Where have all the taxes gone?

I am out of school so I have a little more time.  I was reading some of the blogs that I enjoy and came across a post on Grant Cunningham’s blog that explains a royal FAIL from law enforcement.  The tragic part of the post was that a woman was raped after a break-in.  She called 911 and was told there were no deputies available to respond.  In this case the police were more than minutes away, they never came.  It might have been different if she had been armed, but such was not the case.

In the article he goes into a lot of detail about why there was no money for police protection in her area.  The overall reason was that the county was not collecting enough in taxes to maintain all its services.  What slips through the cracks, because it is so carefully covered by the government and ignored by the media are the multiple reasons there were inadequate tax revenues.

First, you have a government land grab.  Land that had been used by logging companies, ranchers and farmers was reclassified so that it could be “protected.”  Guess what?  The government does not pay taxes to itself except in the form of printing money or stealing from the Social Security Trust Fund, thus the tax base was reduced.  I would assume that the land grab was at the request of some environmental group who wanted to preserve Gaia for future generations of dolphins.

Secondly, the environmentalists themselves filed frivolous law suits.  The lumber companies withdrew because they could not keep paying the legal fees.  This further reduced the tax base.  I thought it was common sense that if no one makes money, no one pays taxes.  Gaia may be god but she doesn’t have a tax ID number.

The government subsidized for a time, reducing the amount available for other things.  They did this for PR reasons, I am sure, but as time went by they started reducing the subsidies. 

Jump forward in your time machine.  Less land being taxed.  Less business being taxed.  Both of those mean fewer workers being taxed and more people on the dole. 

It sounds to me like we need another government program to get us out of this mess.  Or maybe we could raise taxes on the rich.


homo unius libri

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Opus 2013-184: Plow and Crown: The Safety Net

Why do the elites tend toward fascism?  Notice I did not say socialism or Communism.  My understanding here is based on reading Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg.  It has been awhile so my opinion may have morphed away from what he actually said.  I must be the one who is right.

My take is that in Communism the government is in total control of everything, large and small.  Socialism has the government in total control of the major engines in the economy but might leave the little guys alone, at least until they get big.  Fascism talks about private enterprise but they always want it to be under the control of the government.  None of them believe in genuine free enterprise.  They are afraid of it.  Free enterprise is a disease that must be stomped out.

Why?  Because true free enterprise is a foundation of liberty and elitists hate liberty.

Free enterprise can reward effort and risk with wealth.  I say “can” because the risk is real.  In genuine free enterprise you are as free to fail as you are to succeed.  There are no bailouts or safety nets.  This leads to power and possible influence.  You don’t owe any government official and don’t need to tailor your opinions to keep the local Federal Alphabet Agency off your back.  Elitists hate this because they genuinely believe they know what is best for us and we don’t.  They believe we will hurt ourselves if they are not in control.  And they are right, but pain is part of liberty. 

Free enterprise can thus lead to upward mobility without the aid of the tyrants syncopates.  They are superfluous.  Even worse they may be pushed aside and lose their cushy jobs. 

Free enterprise forces the risk adverse and untalented to work instead of coming to the nanny state with hat in hand.  It means that if there is something they want but can’t afford, they need to do something themselves.  The traditional ways of improving yourself involve training or education, practice, a change of careers, a second job or, horror of horrors, starting your own business.  The modern, elitest way is to tax those who are successful, drag them down and pass the money on through a government program to those who refuse to take the steps necessary to improve their lot.

All of these things limit the power and potential of the elitists.  Even worse, if it were applied correctly it might mean that some of them would need to get real jobs and produce wealth or do without their fancy offices and nice suits.

Works for me.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Opus 2013-183: The 50% Solution

How do you deal with women?  After 38 years of marriage I am still asking the question.  After 28 years of fatherhood I am asking it twice as much.

A recent example.

I have a small cooler I use to take lunch and snacks to work.  It gets dirty.  Dirt is a part of life.  The first time I decided it was time to clean it I was planning on putting it in the washing machine with cold water and accept the results.  When my wife found out my plan she went ballistic.  I can’t remember her reasoning now but she insisted on washing it by hand.  Okay.  Now it was clean.  Mission accomplished.  On with life.

Yesterday she decided it needed to be cleaned again and guess what.  She popped it in the washer.  ????

I have pretty much decided that when my wife asks my opinion I don’t give one.  At least that way I have a 50% chance of getting it done my way.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-182: God and Caffeine

Any time I am around the stuff, I wonder how people can drink beer.  I have tasted it a few times and it always seems to be the juice of decomposed grain to me.  I don’t get it.  It occurred to me that I used to feel that way about coffee.  Coffee and beer, what a combination.  Both must be acquired tastes. 

Coffee is very bitter when you are an new drinker.  When I started, I drank it to keep awake before finals.  You remember the all-nighters because you hadn’t studied.  I loaded it down with cream and sugar.  I kept drinking it because they would refill my cup.  If they had refilled other soft drinks like they do now I might never have become addicted.

As I got older and more concerned about calories I first left out the sugar and then the cream.  I am now to the point where I enjoy and anticipate my morning coffee but even now, the first sip in the morning can be a shock. 

As my mind roamed I got to thinking about the difference between regular and decaffeinated coffee.  Decaf can taste good but for some reason I tend to not finish it.  There is something in the caffeine that matches up with a need or pull in my body.  Without thinking I drink more of the high octane.  When I am drinking coffee on the way to work, if it is decaf I usually have half a cup left when I arrive.  If it is regular it us usually finished. 

My mind continued to roam and turned to spiritual applications.  I got to thinking about how this is an illustration of how the Holy Spirit works in our lives and about how we can know we are saved.  Usually it is subtle.  It may not always be an overwhelming “Wow” like a really puckery Key Lime pastry but a subtle something that fills in the gaps.  I may not be able to point at a bunch of obvious moments but when I get to the end of the day I know it is different. 

Some may be able to instantly tell the difference between regular and decaf.  Some are more sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit.  Whether you feel every bump in the road the butter still gets churned.  I guess that is a different metaphor.

Drink deep and enjoy.

homo unius libri

Monday, June 10, 2013

Opus 2013-181: Should-a-Beens: The 4th Is Coming

The 4th of July is coming.  It is time to get out your copy of the Declaration of Independence so you can read it as a family before you dig into your barbeque.  We are trying to establish it as a family tradition.  It might be a good idea for your family.

We need to remind ourselves what the causes of our nationhood were.  We need to read and think about what it was like then, what is like now and where it will be in the future if things continue.

If you don’t have one, get one. 

You might also want to have a dictionary handy to look up words like "usurp" and "tyranny."

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-180: Taking the Bible Literally

Allistair Begg was talking about John the Baptist.  As he spoke he quoted something in the passage about John that he called hyperbole, “All of Israel went out to hear him.”  I could not find that exact quote but I did find the following.
(Matthew 3:5 KJV)  Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,
His comments got me thinking about how people argue about Biblical inspiration, literal interpretation and what is called inerrancy.  People turn off their brains when these issues come up.  Biblical inspiration and inerrancy do not mean that you take every word in its absolute literal meaning. 

Take the statement above.  I doubt if the city of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan to see John.  I doubt is everyone in Judea heard him preach.  No one who is rational would question that this is a literary device.  No rational person would assume that when it says, “All people” it did not mean “all people.”  The Bible is to be interpreted the way it was intended to be interpreted not the way its critics want to interpret it.

Another good example of figurative language is,
(Psalms 91:4 KJV)  He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
In the context this is clearly talking about God.  No one who is in their right mind thinks God is a big chicken with wings we will hide under.  A rational mind understands that this is a figure of speech. 

We can disagree on whether something is to be taken literally.  We can disagree on whether the parables are observed events or composed stories.  We can argue about whether Job was a real person.  That is all in the family.

But don’t take those arguments as a reason to doubt that the Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit, preserved by the Holy Spirit and understood through the Holy Spirit. 

It does not follow.

homo unius libri

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Opus 2013-179: Immortal Quotes: The Chicken or the Egg?

Has anyone figured to stop a discussion by reciting, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”  It is supposed to be one of those great unanswerable questions.  Actually it is easy to answer.

The only way it works as a discussion stopper is if it is asked in the way of a strict Yes/No question such as, “Have you stopped beating your wife, yes or no?  Just give me an answer!”

You solve it by a little knowledge and logic.  If you say the egg came first people will ask you where the egg came from.  If you say the chicken came first then they ask the same basic question but make the chicken the subject.  Actually it could not be the chicken or the egg that came first. 

The first part is simple.  You know that chickens come from eggs.  Thus you can have no chickens without the third requirement that I will mention in a moment.

A little birds and bees discussion for you.  In order for a chicken to come from an egg, the egg must be fertilized.  A fertilized egg has three requirements.  The ones you recognize easily are a hen to lay the egg and a rooster to do his job.  Without the rooster the hen can lay an egg but it will only produce omelets, not chicks.  So the question is ridiculous as well as ignorant.  It should be “Which came first the chickens or the eggs.”  The third requirement?  More on that later.

What if you feel the eggs somehow appeared fertilized and had to come first?  Again a few lessons in life.  Chicken eggs, even if fertilized, do not hatch unless they are kept at a certain temperature for a certain length of time.  That requires a sitting hen.  So it is obvious the egg could not come first, except for the third requirement mentioned above. 

What is the third requirement?  I hope you will forgive me for a little bit of foul language (I could not resist that) or cussing, if that works better for you.  I find it necessary to use the “G” word.  Either way you slice it, the one who came first required the third element of divine intervention.  If it was the egg, God had to miraculously keep it warm until it hatched.  Actually He would have had to keep at least two warm for the same reason the question was wrong.  If it was the chicken He had to make two compatible animals that could reproduce, do it at the same time, and do it at the same location. 

So the answer is that God only knows, after all, He is the one who made it happen.  Nothing else works unless you believe that unicorns really fart rainbows.

homo unius libri

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Opus 2013-178: Monday Pulpit: Who Is Speaking

Recently at a Wednesday evening service one of the young people was sharing.  She was commenting on what she was hearing and how it was touching her where she needed to be touched.  She then made a comment that I can’t give exactly but could be paraphrased as,
“It isn’t the words that the pastor says that are so important, it is what God says to us through his words.” 
Today as I was listening to Alistair Begg he shared along the same lines.  He expressed it differently but the idea was the same.  The Bible calls it the foolishness of preaching.
(1 Corinthians 1:21 KJV)  For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
Everything we do as believers in Jesus Christ is saturated in grace and the work of the Holy Spirit.  When we listen, He speaks to us.  When we read, He speaks to us.  When we think, He speaks to us.  This is why someone who claims he got nothing from church this Sunday is having a hearing problem.

Happy listening.

homo unius libri

Friday, June 7, 2013

Opus 2013-177: Change and Crisis

Almost things that are important take place over time.  Very few things happen in one crisis.  Education, spiritual growth, physical growth, relationships such as marriage, they all take time to mature and develop.

Children don’t grow up overnight.  It may seem that way but it is because you haven’t been watching.  Rarely does one experience ruin or make a child.  Exceptions would be a trauma like abuse or molestation.  Because they are so serious I can’t think of any punishment severe enough for child molesters.  A parent having a bad day does not ruin a child.  Missing their senior prom does not ruin a child.  Over time these things might add up but it is not the single events that cause the damage.  It is the adults who have repeatedly failed that usually do the damage.

In spiritual issues it is not one boring sermon that drives away a seeking soul.  On the other side it is not one evangelistic appeal that draws them to faith.  I say usually because I am sure there are exceptions but most people make major decisions based on lengthy input and consideration.  They may not be aware of all the input but it is there.  It is like the sense of smell.  You don’t smell everything that gives an aroma.  That does not mean it is not there on some level.  The same with the input of the Holy Spirit.

Politics, the economy, your health; all change and develop gradually. 

To make every struggle a crisis that demands professional intervention is a ploy for control.  To blame people like teachers who have a student for a few months with damaging their self esteem is nothing more than manipulation.  When a child comes to me in eighth grade and cannot read it is a joke to blame me or expect some miraculous intervention on my part but it happens on a regular basis.  I am sure the same thing happens in the medical profession and economic circles.

I read somewhere a statement that goes something like this.
“If I can change your mind in one post the chances are someone else can change it back just as easy.”
I don’t believe I will change you.  I do hope I can make you think.  Gradually and thoughtfully.  That is, by the way, the only way you will change me.

homo unius libri

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Opus 2013-176: On the Street: Redundancy

As I came to a stop I noticed that the car in front of me had a stop light burned out.  The could have been a problem but had been planned for.  The tail light and one stoplight were working.  The middle light was working.  It is called redundancy.  It makes sense.  I have a spare tire (on the car, not on me).  I carry an extra pen.  I have a twenty tucked away in my wallet.  I have a quart of oil stored in the back of my jeep. 

What about redundancy in the scripture.  Some themes come up again and again.  I see it as I read through Proverbs each month.  Why?  One reason God throws them at us so many ways and offers such redundancy is for our safety and well being.  He is trying to make sure that the spiritual job gets done and that we are alerted. 

I wish I could say it is redundancy when I post something that I already wrote about but that is called memory, or lack of it.

So be glad that things are repeated.  After all, where would we be if our wives did not keep reminding us that our wedding anniversary is coming up?

homo unius libri

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Opus 2013-175: Fear of Death

I was again listening to Alistair Begg.  He was talking about death.  He called it “The last big taboo.”   I have heard that before but it struck me because of conversations I have had recently with students.  When I don’t seem to get too upset over the topic and talk about it freely they freak out.  Understand, I am officially old.  They can’t understand why the concept doesn’t worry me. 

They ask “Do you want to die?”  The answer is, “No, I don’t want to but I am ready.”  And it occurs to me that one of the reasons I don’t think I will die is because I still have something to give to them.  How often people retire and die because they feel they have nothing left to give.  I believe that one of the statistics that have come out of recent research is that people who attend church regularly tend to live longer and be happier than the general population.  That would be because a significant portion of that group actually believe what their church teaches and it gives them a purpose in life. 

I have also been asked if I was afraid to die.  I said, “No.”  They asked why.  I simply said I am a follower of Jesus so it is not something I worry about.  They said, “Oh, you’re a Christian.”  I pled guilty, they made deprecating noises and we went on with the class. 

They knew the solution I believed in and blew it off.  No wonder they are afraid of death.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Opus 2013-174: Canned Spam

I am having fun deleting the spam from my Blogger account.  I month or so ago I discovered how much was being filtered out and being stored in the spam file under “comments.”  I think I had about 6,000 or more sitting there, taking up space.  After consulting with the family geek about the necessity of leaving them or not, I started deleting them 100 at a time.  Now that I am down to doing it every few days I take a moment to glance at the content.  You never know, you might actually have someone posting under “Anonymous” who is serious.  I know I did it a few times when I was starting out.

Here is one that is typical.
“Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and I'm impressed! Very useful info specifically the last part :) I care for such info much. I was seeking this certain information for a long time. Thank you and good luck. Feel free to surf to my web page; how to get pregnant guide on...”
The only thing that would make me take this seriously is my ego.  After all, this guy (or robot) was impressed.  He must be intelligent, right?

The thing that always mystifies me is how they post under “Anonymous” and they have a web page.  It would seem to me that if you really have a web page you would be able to post under something more than “Anonymous.”

Delete your spam.  Don’t let your ego get in the way.  The robot has not been looking for the information for a long time, just suckers.

homo unius libri

Monday, June 3, 2013

Opus 2013-173: Monday Pulpit: Great Preaching

The last three weeks the preaching has really been great.  How do I know?  Because I was doing it.  One of the lessons I have learned about preaching is that it needs to talk to me as much as any one else in the congregation.  Years ago I fell into the trap of preparing sermons aimed at certain people but it didn’t take long to realize that they were never there the Sunday I preached it.  The only person I could be sure would be present was me, thus I was the best target. 

So, preach it brother.

homo unius libri

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Opus 2013-172: Ode to Old: School Is Out

You will probably soon see an eruption of the yearly warning about children being out of school so you need to drive extra careful.  I think there is another warning I would like to see posted more frequently.  “Old man ahead.  Be extra alert.”  This is more important than the warning that children are ahead. 

We may not run out in the street like kids but we often forget to look before we shuffle.  You also need to understand that we don’t heal as fast as we used to.  A couple of years ago when I was approaching the official status of “Old Man” I bounced down the stairs at my daughter’s house.  I kicked the wall on the way down and broke my little toe.  That was just a brief, minor irritation.  The real problem was the jarring to my joints.  Although I was not seriously injured, and certainly not stopped, I was a walking mass of creaks and groans for over a year.  Gradually the pain receded. 

I healed, but I don’t want to repeat the experience.  I am trying to be extra alert, at least when I am alert.  So watch out for me, if you would.

homo unius libri