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.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Opus 2013-252: Beware of Hackers

I am leaving today for DEFCON.  This is an annual convention for hackers and wannabe hackers.  I go because my son is a geek and for years it has been a father/son thing we do.  It gives us a lot to talk about and there are enough non-technical sessions to keep my interest.

I don’t know how much I will be able to post or answer comments while I am there.  I don’t know what my son will set up.  There may be no break or I may go underground for the next five days. 

Either way the sun will come up and taxes will still need to be paid.  Keep it all in context.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-251: The Dream Is in Bad Shape

Before the 13th Amendment, slavery was legal.  Because of the Dred Scott Decision, slaves had no rights.  If you are weak in history, this was a Supreme Court decision which responded to a slave going to court to attain his freedom.  His owner had spent time in a part of the country that had been declared slavery free in 1787.  When his owner died he claimed that residency made him a free man.  What surprised me was the local Missouri court sided with the slave.  On appeal the Supreme Court reversed the decision and said he was still a slave.  That was a disappointment but what laid the groundwork for the Civil War was the declaration that slaves had no rights and thus could not sue in court. 

One rationale that the slave owners had was that the slaves were an inferior race and needed the white masters to care for them.  They had security but no liberty.  It was the original Nanny State.

In the 1930's American blacks had liberty but no security.  In theory they were citizens but groups like the Klu Klux Klan made it very dangerous for them to be noticed.  Lynching was common and segregation was the standard. 

For a brief time it looked like the civil rights movement would bring real change.  Equal rights were being demanded and people of good will of all colors could see the logic and justice of that.  Then things like Affirmative Action became the game plan.  It seemed to be decided that the only cure for historic racial discrimination was more racial discrimination going the other way.  Black racism replaced white racism.  This of course could only be achieved by government subsidies and coercion.  So money was passed out and quotas were granted.

We have now gone full circle.  Blacks used to be persecuted and live in danger.  Now “African Americans” are living on the dole and special privilege.  They are still on the plantation, only now the Massa is a Democrat politician handing out welfare checks and patronage.  They must toe the line.  What else would explain the mindless voting and public opinion that runs at the 95% level.  Because they refuse to think for themselves or stand on their own feet “African Americans” now have no liberty but a form of security. 

This is progress?  This is freedom?  This makes a mockery of the words,
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
Going backwards won’t get us where we want to go.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Opus 2013-250: Get Serious

We sometimes think that the saints of the past had no sense of humor.  We think of them as dried up old prunes.  John Wesley would perpetuate that stereotype because he comes down hard on frivolous, jocular worship.  In his writing though he sometimes can’t restrain himself from making observations that surprise me in their humorous candor. 

Here he is reflecting on a sick lady that he had been visiting and ministering to.
“I had much satisfaction in conversing with one that was very ill and very serious.  But in a few days she recovered from her sickness and from her seriousness together.”  (page 19)
Haven’t we all seen this.  When people face hardship they are very serious and open to spiritual things.  Somehow their interest wains when the problem departs.  Even pain only teaches temporary lessons to some people.

Some things never change.

Wesley, John.  The Works of John Wesley, Volume I, Third Edition.  Kansas City:  Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1979.

homo unius libri

Monday, July 29, 2013

Opus 2013-249: Scientific Method: Oatmeal

I am coming to the end of my time back east.  One of the challenges is to run out of certain food items as I leave.  If I leave part of a container it will be there when I get back.  Pasta does not get better with age when we are talking months.

I fix breakfast when I am here.  This year it has been mainly oatmeal or grits.  The new twist this year was some 10-15 minute oat meal from Trader Joe’s.  But as we wound down I found that on my 5 minute oatmeal I had too much for one and not enough for two.  My son suggested that we have a taste test.  It is one thing to declare something better but we decided to get scientific about it.  And to finish off one package.

We compared instant oatmeal, old fashioned oat meal and the thicker rolled oats.  The biggest challenge was to get them all to come out at the same time.  The next biggest challenge was to take the instant seriously.

It came out pretty much as you would expect.  Comments about the instant were “pasty” and “tofu.”  The old fashioned was acceptable but the long cooking, rolled oats were by far the best. 

So, if you had any questions, they are now answered.  Take the extra time.  We may have to endure politicians that we can’t stand but that is not necessary in the world of oatmeal.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-248: Cornerstone Considerations: CUSA, Insurrection

Have you noticed how the president seems to make comments that divide the nation?  I have seen titles of articles that say he is the most divisive president we have ever had but I don’t bother reading them because I assume they are opinion pieces based on questionable research.  But it matches what I see.  Why?  One reason that the president is deliberately stirring up race riots is to find an excuse to take over the country.  I don’t think it will work, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a desire of his heart.

If he can cause enough violence in the streets it will give him constitutional power to suspend our rights.  From Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution:
“The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety require it.”
All he has to do is declare that the “public safety” requires his being able to arrest the trouble makers.  Abraham Lincoln did it during the Civil War.  I think Wilson did it during World War I.  I am sure it was part of the justification that Roosevelt used to inter the Japanese during World War II.  The precedent is available.

Later you see another justification in Article 4, Section 4
“The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened), against domestic violence.”
In addition to riots this could be one reason that he doesn’t want to secure the borders.  Call illegal immigration an invasion and you can take over Texas, Arizona and California. 

Of course it would be for our own protection.

I don’t think this is what the Founding Fathers envisioned.

homo unius libri

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Opus 2013-247: Headlines: Jury Nullification

Most of you have heard or read about the recent interview with Juror B29.  Her response makes me think a little more about the concept of Jury Nullification. 

Jury Nullification is the belief that the jury has the right to ignore the instructions of the judge about what the law says and decide the case on their own understanding of the case.  I remember the one time I made it on a jury.  It was a civil case so we were simply dealing with who caused the accident and how much it was worth.  The judge told us that when we had heard all the evidence he would inform of what the law said and what our options were. 

This puzzled me.  I asked him what he needed a jury for if he was going to tell us how we had to decide the case.  It really did not make any sense to me at the time.  Now I see the point.

In the past I have been on the side of Jury Nullification.  That is because I don’t have a lot of respect for what I see happening in court rooms.  Judges and lawyers seem to be playing games instead of trying to achieve truth and fairness.  The last refuge of citizens is the jury. 

This juror showed me the other side.  She should not have been on the jury to start with.  She had already decided that Zimmerman was guilty of murder.  Her mind was made up before she took the seat.  In spite of that she listened to the judge, understood the law and what was required and made the right decision.  I salute her for that. 

In this case the law was there to keep people from making a judgement on their feelings and emotions.  It was there to set up a standard that could be applied to all people regardless of their class or color.  That is the point of the rule of law.

I am not convinced that Jury Nullification does not have it place but this points out to me that I can be just as wrong as anyone.  I can run with my emotions as well as anyone else.  Caution is called for.

This requires more thought.

homo unius libri

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Opus 2013-246: Is it 2016 Already? Part 2 of 2

Why would I pull out of many elections?  Don’t I believe in democracy?  How about the saying that “all that is necessary for evil to triumph is that enough good men do nothing.”  Am I just being a sore looser?

I guess it all comes down to being a man of principle, not pragmatics.  I believe that God has established the principles of life.  I see the constitution as being supportive of those principles, thus I believe in the original intent of both the Bible and the Constitution.  I should always be asking myself what is right, not what is practical.  The “right” is determined by the written word not the wishing heart.  Here is where the believing part comes in.  Because I believe that God is ultimately in control, I believe that if I follow His rules, seek His path and do things His way, He will make it work.

For those who need a Bible verse, I have one.  If you are not a believer, skip this section.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV)  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Sound familiar?  Do we really believe it?

Not only do I believe it, I must start putting it in action.  I accept the reality that I can’t wait for someone to have all of my religious beliefs to get my vote.  It ain’t gonna happen.  I know it.  My personal views are too fine tuned for that, or narrow if you prefer.  But there is a larger list that I can expect to find and if I don’t, go third party or skip the head of the ticket.

Don’t I believe in democracy?  No I don’t believe in democracy.  Democracy does not work.  It never has and never will.  The Founding Fathers set up a republic, not a democracy because they had studied history.  History and experience has shown that you can’t have everyone vote on everything.  As early as the days of Moses, Israel set up a multi-level system with leaders who acted as judges over those below them and brought there needs to those above them.  Greece, the seed bed of democracy could never rule itself. 

The Founding Fathers also understood that you needed a faith in what they would call “divine providence.”  Whether they were agnostics, deists, high-churchmen or congregational Christians they could agree on that.  They agreed that moral behavior, rooted in a divine authority was necessary for freedom and prosperity.  It was assumed and accepted.

So I may not vote for president next time.  It will not be because I have given up on the republic.  It will not be because I am desperate and desolate.  It will not be surrender.  It will be a mark of trust in a higher authority.  It will be a mark of refusing to sell my soul.  It will be a statement of faith and expectation. 

homo unius libri

Friday, July 26, 2013

Opus 2013-245: Is it 2016 Already? Part 1 of 2

The talking heads are already speculating about the next presidential election.  We are seeing Hillary’s name touted and a steady streams of Republican wannabes.  There is the speculation that Obama will create a crisis that allows him to make the ultimate Constitutional Side-step and become dictator, for our own good, of course. 

So far I have voted in every election, except one involving only school board members that slipped by me.  I say, “So far.”  It is getting harder to cast a vote when I have no options that are acceptable.  How can I as a believer in Jesus Christ vote when I have no real choices.  The first time this really hit me was when Bob Dole was running against Bill Clinton.  Bob Dole was an honorable, decent human being, unlike his opponent.  But presidential?  I have often said, “The only thing that could make me vote for Bob Dole was Bill Clinton.”  Fast forward to McCain vs Obama.  Same scenario.  Hit the button again and check out Romney vs Obama.  What do they say, deja vu all over again? 

What do I do when the choice is a McCain or an Obama.  The Rhino Squishes need to understand I may never vote for an Obama but I must really force myself to vote for a McCain.  My nose is beginning to get raw from being pinched.  I have a growing sympathy for those who have re-registered as Independents.  I find that my son refused to vote in the last election.  Soon it may be like son, like father.

Maybe it is time for the rest of us to stay home during an election.  There are already enough doing it that we who still believe in the Constitution can see the effect.  The Republican leadership can’t see it.  Maybe we need to make it so obvious that even the moderates begin to realize that they cannot win unless they have us on board and we won’t be on board if we don’t have a real choice. 

The record has been clear.  When the Republicans run someone who people see as a believer in traditional values and supporter of constitutional government, they win.  When they try to run a moderate they lose. 

Is it time to pull back and make the point so clear even a rhino can see it? 

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Opus 2013-243: Unconverted Believers

A couple of years ago I heard Alistair Begg use a phrase, “Unconverted believing people.”  It shocked me enough to make note of it.  I asked myself what he was talking about.  Aren’t we saved by faith?  Isn’t believing the same as faith?  I was driving at the time and he kept speaking so I moved on.

He has used the phrase several times since then and I have given it more thought.  I now understand what he is talking about.  In his experience he has run across a lot of people who attend church regularly and believe all that the church teaches but it has not brought them to the point of conversion.  One of the ways I have heard it expressed it “head knowledge, not heart knowledge.”

My original reaction was not well thought out.  We are not saved by faith, we are saved by grace through faith.  There is a difference.  In his discussion of the importance of works to support our faith, James makes this observance.
(James 2:19 KJV)  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
So it isn’t enough to accept the truth of the Bible. 

The world is full of people who accept the Bible as a valid, historical document.  They will concede that Jesus existed, that He was crucified and even that He rose from the dead.  What they refuse to do is accept Him as their Lord.

So if you are critical of Christianity, understand that everyone who wears fatigues is not a soldier.  To put it another way, just because your jersey says “23" doesn’t mean you are Michael Jordan.

If you are a Christian, examine your heart and make sure that you are one of the converted, not just a “believer.”

homo unius libri

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Opus 2013-242: Budding Theologians

Alistair Begg made a passing comment on people who say they are not theologians.  At that point my ears turned off and my thinking cap clicked on.  You my not be a good theologian or a professional theologian or philosopher but everyone has a theology and a philosophy.  You live it.  It provides the framework for everything else about you.  When you interact with people you are expressing and demonstrating it even if you can’t articulate it in big words. 

We need to develop those skills.  We cannot hide behind the truth that we were not born theologians.  We were not born cooks either but most of us have had to feed ourselves at some point in our lives.  I have learned to prepare the basics I need when it is left up to me.  I can fix breakfast.  At one end I can pour boiling water in instant oatmeal.  At the other end, for me, I can make bacon and eggs.  I have learned to make chili and adapted the recipe.  I am learning. 

We are not born fathers and mothers.  We might have a collection of observations but until the firstborn arrives, we have not lived it.  You don’t learn to change a diaper just by watching.  Sooner or later you need to plunge in and learn by experience.  Kids at school can’t comprehend how much fun it can be changing a diaper on your own brilliant, perfect child.  You can’t just ignore the kid and go on with life.  Even when my kids are adults the process continues.  I am learning.

It is this way in all of life.  When I was talking with a doctor recently I made the observation, “I have never gotten old before.  I am learning this as I go.”  It may be that way with theology.  Make sure that you learn.  It makes a difference in how you live.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Opus 2013-241: Discernment Watch: Zimmerman Did Not Kill Martin, part 2 of 2

What caused this death and others?  What continues to ruin lives and futures?  It goes on all around us.

It starts in the home.  Parents have been taught that they are supposed to be their child’s buddy.  We are supposed to be a friend, not the father or mother.  Authority is to be avoided.  Parents have been taught that they should not discipline or expect hard work.  They have been taught to let children express themselves and not be stifled.  You have seen this in the grocery store with the spoiled brat screaming and carrying on until victory is achieved.  You have seen them in restaurants refusing to eat what is good for them and getting junk simply because they want it. 

The lessons continues at school.  Students can cuss out teachers, be incessantly tardy, lie, cheat and steal knowing that nothing will really happen to them.  We had a big deal made last year about habitually tardy students.  We had the district attorney get involved.  We filled out forms.  We sent students to the office.  We had assemblies.  We threatened and cajoled.  It sounded real fine but nothing seemed to change.  Why?  After a year or more of all this talk one of our administrators let slip that they were only concerned about the times a student was 30 minutes late.  If they walked in at 29 minutes it did not go into the record.  Guess when they started getting to class.  They learn that there are no consequences for their behavior. 

The parents come to school, get angry, get sad, cry, beg and give in.  They claim that things will change but they do nothing to bring it about.  They express things like, “I give him everything he wants.  What is wrong?”  I have parents who claim that they can’t get their twelve year old to get a haircut?  Really?  The students have learned that there are no consequences when they break rules.  They believe they are above rules.  They have excellent self-esteem.

So Martin, and millions of others like him, learned that there were no consequences for ignoring the rules.  He had been taught that the world was his oyster.  His self esteem knew no bounds.  He was the center of his world.  He is now dead.

The people who created this attitude don’t have a clue.  They think it is more important to feel good about yourself than to have a reason to feel good.  They believe that everyone will do what is right if given a chance.  They don’t believe in punishment or discipline.  There are no real criminals, just victims.  It is all societies fault. 

They are killing an entire generation.  You just read about one that was famous.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-240: Discernment Watch: Zimmerman Did Not Kill Martin, part 1 of 2

Oh, he pulled the trigger.  He shot the gun.  That is not in question. 

But he is not really the one who caused the death.

The left wing media and race baiters are trying to make Martin a victim.  He was, but not the victim they want to describe.  He was not a victim of Zimmerman.  He was not a victim of profiling.  He was not a victim of racism.  Yet he was a victim.

He was a victim of all the adults in his life that had allowed him to think he could do anything he wanted and there would be no consequence.  I know this because, although I was not in the court room and have a limited knowledge of the case, I see the same actions and experiences that I observe on a regular basis.  I know because I see the destruction going on all the time in our public schools.  I know because I have sat in countless meetings with parents.  I know because I have watched television and read the magazines that mold our culture.  I know because I have taken psychology and sociology classes.  I know because I realize that many of the young men I work with in middle school will someday be found dead in a gutter because they never learned that actions have consequences.

Not only has no one taught that lesson, they have constantly taught the opposite.  In spite of the emphasis on the scientific method we ignore the process of cause and effect.  We ignore the long therm results and the fact that the king has no clothes.

This is not about the guilt of either of the main players.  I am not really commenting on Zimmerman or Martin.  This is about those who have been, and still are, behind the scenes continuing to do their work of ruining lives.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Monday, July 22, 2013

Opus 2013-239: Tempting?

Will there be temptation in heaven?  Adam and eve were created perfect and yet in the midst of what God pronounced good, they were tempted.  Are we tempted now so we will be ready for heaven? 

I know that eternal life is going to be so incredible that we can’t even begin to understand it now.  I can understand that I cannot understand.  But will I be tempted?

It is certain there will be no Satan to try to drag us down.  It is possible that there will be no limitations that we can transgress.  We will not have our sinful natures or the limitations of the flesh to get us sidelined.  

But will we be tempted?

homo unius libri

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Opus 2013-238: On the Street: Local Attractions

A while back I passed a sign identifying the off-ramp to the Los Angeles County Arboretum.  I have lived in Southern California most of my life.  I have passed this sign thousands of times.  I have never been the Arboretum.  This is an attraction that people travel long distances to enjoy.  I pass it regularly and have never follow the arrows.  I think this is a common occurrence.  People who live close to things often don’t take advantage of them.

Think of all the places you have never been.  I don’t mean Joe’s Bar and Grill.  I mean places like the Norton Simon Museum.  Descanso Gardens.  The Smithsonian.  The Everglades.  Places of history and culture.  I have been here all my life and missed the unmissable.  Has it made a difference in my life?  I will never know, will I?  Nor will you.

How many landmarks are there in our spiritual walk that we have never visited because we have never taken the time to go there.  I know I am not interested in converting to Islam.  I have read their book.  I know I am not interested in becoming a Buddhist or Hindu.  I have tried reading some of their material and it makes no sense to me. 

I have also read my Bible and find that it answers the big questions of life, like why get up and go to work tomorrow.  Why work hard when I get there?  I find it doesn’t answer the little questions of life like “Coke or Pepsi?”  I find that it helps me know the difference.  I also find that it is continually pushing into areas that are new or ignored.  There will always be a new attraction to explore as well as old ones to enjoy.

Give it a try.  First time visitors are welcome.  Life members are expected.  Cynics and skeptics always bring a bit of fun and challenge to the day.  Don’t start with Genesis.  The Bible isn’t put together like any other book you have ever read.  In the Old Testament start with Psalms or Proverbs.  In the New Testament with Mark or Philippians.  Follow the arrows.

homo unius libri

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Opus 2013-237:  Links:  What’s for Dinner?

Following links can be rewarding.  I believe I picked this one up from Gorges’ Grouse.  I bookmark and try to get back to check them out.  Sometimes I do.  Sometimes I don’t.

I spent a few moments reading a post on Double Nickle Farm.  The author was talking about fixing meals and made this comment:
“The food is not the star of the meal...the family is.”
I thought that was a thought provoker.  You might want to check out the entire essay.  Who knows, it might make your day.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-236: Salacious or Supportive?

On one of his podcasts, Alister Begg, was preaching on love and brotherly love, from Philippians 2:4. 
(Philippians 2:4 NAS77)  do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
He said there is a big difference between looking out for the interests of others and being a busybody. 

At that point my mind went into tangent mode.  I began to ponder how we can tell the difference between the two motivations.  The Bible tells us we are to be our brother’s keepers, bear one another’s burdens, etc.  It also condemns gossip.  How do you know when to intercede and get involved?  What tips the scales?

The Holy Spirit. 

We need to give the Holy Spirit a chance to work in real life situations.  One indication might be opportunity.  If something drops down in front of us and can’t be ignored, that could be a sign we are to get involved.  The Holy Spirit can bring things to our attention.  Sometimes it may be subtle.  Other times it may hit like a tone of bricks.  Either way, it was put in front of us.

We are not supposed to be nosing around looking into other people’s business.  We don’t need to go looking for something to fix.  We should rely on the Holy Spirit to bring us more than enough to keep us busy.

So keep your eyes open today and look for opportunities to be used by God to make a difference.

homo unius libri

Friday, July 19, 2013

Opus 2013-235: Discernment Watch: Smart As a Danelion

Is it just my imagination or do weeds learn to keep their heads down when you mow them?  It has been a long time since I mowed the lawn.  I don’t mean weeks.  I mean years.  I don’t do lawns any more.  My wife would probably say I never really did lawns, which is why she hired a gardener. 

But it seems to me that when the dandelions first came up they stood tall.  After I mowed them, they quickly came back but kept there head lower.  It could be just my imagination, but maybe not.

If it is true, it would seem that even weeds can learn from experience.  Why can’t people?  How many times do people need to lie to you before you get the idea you can’t believe them?  How many times do they need to borrow your pen and not return it before you say, “No.”  How many times do they need to raise your taxes before you realize it doesn’t generate more money?  How many times do you need to put more money into education to realize it has no effect?  How many people need to be murdered by Islam before you ask yourself “Where is the peace in this religion?”  How many times do we keep electing the same types of people and expect politics to change?

How many times?

Maybe it is time to try to be as smart as a dandelion.

homo unius libri

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Opus 2013-234: Headlines: New First Amendment Right

I was amazed to learn that Los Angeles Police Commander Andy Smith has bestowed a new right on the American people.  Here is the quote from the Los Angeles Times:

“"We want to support everyone's 1st Amendment right to protest, but we also want to ensure public safety and not allow people to commit violent acts," Cmdr. Andy Smith told The Times.”

For those with short memories let me share with you the first amendment.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
It says we have the right to “peaceably assemble.”  What that meant was attend church, join a political club, hang out with your homies.  I am willing to admit that a peaceful protest might be included in that but it is not listed as a specific right.

It says we have the right to “petition the government.”  A petition is a document listing what is wrong and what you want done about it.  It does not include any of the following activities.
“People protesting George Zimmerman's acquittal marched along Crenshaw Boulevard on Monday night, stomping on cars, chasing bystanders and storming a Wal-Mart.”
The people who owned the cars were not the government.  The bystanders were not the government.  Wal-Mart is not the government. 

I think it is time for us to realize that it is not a constitutionally protected right to act like an ignorant thug just because you are bored.  It is not a constitutionally protected right to attack any one you feel like it because you are unhappy about something that had nothing to do with you.

You might make a case for such activities in the Declaration of Independence.
“But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.”
But that has nothing to do with a local court case decided by a local jury in another state.

The Declaration also put this qualifier on revolution:
“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes;...”
You don’t start a revolution because you disagree with the six people who heard all the evidence.

Maybe Los Angeles Police officers need to take a class on the Constitution.  Maybe the Los Angeles Police need to stop reading the Los Angeles Times.

Maybe Zimmerman was innocent of anything but self-defense.  The six people who heard all the evidence seemed to think so no matter what the media talking heads want you to believe.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Opus 2013-233: Dsicernment Watch: Back to Basics

My kids bought me a smart phone.  Often I find it too smart for its own good or only thinking it is smart.  Gradually I am finding certain aspects entertaining if not helpful.  One of those is the Google Maps application which is hooked into the GPS and can give me directions as I drive.  I have used it a few times and on vacation I can see how it might be useful.

I still prefer maps and geographical awareness.  There is a built in weakness in being dependent on technology.  Airplane pilots have compasses, GPS, air traffic controllers and towers.  It certainly gets them where they want to go.  The recent tragedy at San Francisco reminds us that technology cannot always make up for human error.

In the past all you needed to navigate were simple observations and knowledge.  In Southern California I knew that the mountains were always north.  In the morning I knew that if the sun was behind me I was traveling west.  When I was traveling west I knew that if I turned right I would be going north.  You don’t need all that now unless there is a tech failure.  It is fascinating watching my children find their way to places.  Sometimes they make ridiculous detours because they obey the computer.  What is amusing is that they don’t even realize it. 

Science has all kinds of answers but what happens when it fails?  Then we need to fall back on basic knowledge such as which way is north, where are the stars and such. 

In life the advice of the current guru is interesting and maybe fun but what do you do when it fails?  In education they threw out phonics when whole language was the rage.  The good teachers kept teaching phonics in spite of the trend.  When children lost the ability to read everyone went back to basics.  The current welfare craze is destroying entire demographic groups and spreading its damage to others.  Will be learn or remember how to remedy the problem?  Dr. Spock’s advice ruined an entire generation or more.  The list could go on.

We need to keep a foundation on hand of the wisdom of the ages.  When I know the territory and the GPS plays foul, I realize it.  In those cases I ignore the wisdom of the chip.  In life I function from a base.  For me, that is found in the Bible and the person of Jesus Christ.  When I hear something that is too good to be true I know it is false because I have eternal truths at my command.  When something doesn’t seem right I don’t always know what the problem is but I do know what is right and what I just heard ain’t it.

Might I recommend that you look to the same source.

homo unius libri

Monday, July 15, 2013

Opus 2013-232: Cornerstone Considerations: CUSA, the New Nobility

Two places the Constitution of the United States forbids the granting of titles of nobility.  The first is in Article 1, Section 9 the last clause.
“No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States:...”
The second refers to the states and is found in the next paragraph, Article 1, Section 10
“No state shall ... grant any title of nobility.”
Historically a title of nobility was something which said a person was better than others simply because of blood or royal decree.  The lower classes had to make way for you, bow to you and follow your orders.  You often were exempt from taxes and fees.  You wore special colors and materials.  You received preferential treatment.  You lived high and had to contribute nothing.

I submit that the welfare classes have become the new nobility.  They live off the sweat of the laboring classes and produce nothing.  They get preferential treatment.  They are becoming a burden on society and are very arrogant about their rights.  We coin phrases such as “welfare queens.” 

I submit that this is unconstitutional. 

homo unius libri

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Opus 2013-231: I’m Bored!

In education one of the common excuses for student failure is boredom.  All children are described as being very smart.  The reason they continue in ignorance is we are just not challenging them.  My guess is that boring teachers were boring students.

Since when is boredom an excuse to not do your job.  Picture flying on Excitement Airlines which only hires pilots who know how to make landings exciting.  My guess is that a more accurate name would be the former Excitement Airlines.  Count me out as a customer.  When you are landing a plane that I am on, boring is good.  Routine is perfect. 

How many of you would go to a Doctor who says, “I’m not sure what is wrong but I’m feeling lucky today.  Let’s cut and see what we find.  It will be fun.”

Making things interesting is good.  I agree.  But the thing that makes a movie interesting is that I have paid attention.  I have listened to the dialogue.  I have gotten involved with the characters and, so, when the plot unfolds I know what is happening.  It doesn’t get it to disrupt the experience for everyone else by asking, “What happened?” because you were texting.  It destroys the pleasure of everyone except you when you have to interrupt with, “Why did they do that?” because you were talking to the person next to you at a key time. 

If you are bored you might want to get a life.  Getting a life involves developing some interests and paying attention.  If you are waiting to be entertained, I guarantee you are going to be bored.

Read a book.  Learn an instrument.  Clean the toilet.  Something.

homo unius libri

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Opus 2013-230: Tax Dollars at Work: Expanding the Smithsonian

As we were driving around Washington, D.C. looking for parking we notice that the Smithsonian was expanding.  They were building an entire new section.  It was going to be a museum of African American History and Culture.

Fascinating.  Since we already have a museum of American history I can only assume that whoever is behind this assumes that black people are not a part of American history.  Sounds a bit racist to me.  Is this the wave of the future?  Does this mean that in a few years we will also have a Museum of Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender History and Culture?

Stay tuned.

And this in a day and age of massive deficits and no budget.  For whom did you vote last election?  Happy with the results?

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-229: Firsts: Hand Ground Coffee

I am on vacation.  I am open to trying new things.  I have time to try new things.  At my daughter’s house I have a blade coffee grinder, or at least I am told it is there.  Every time I try to ask about it I get a run-around.  At my son’s house I started the trip with frozen, year old, ground, flavored coffee.  I am not a coffee connoisseur but I tell people I can tell really bad coffee.  This was really, really bad coffee. 

Since he doesn’t have a grinder I went a local shop, bought some beans from Papua New Guinea and had them grind them for me.  But I still wanted to grind my own.  I was not willing to invest in another burr grinder like I have at home so I looked into inexpensive hand crank jobs. 

I got this little contraption that will grind enough for two cups of coffee.  I need to do enough for three cups and that gives me enough to make a good sized mug. 

I have never hand ground my coffee before.  I have experimented with the coarseness of the grind.  If you set it too coarse the flavor is weak.  If you make it like powder it comes out too bitter.  Finally I reached my baby bear level and it is coming out as I want it.

It takes about the same amount of time to grind as it does to bring the water to a boil in the microwave.  Works for me, at least on vacation.  And I can store it away so if we have a power failure I can still grind coffee.

Now the search for the perfect bean. 

homo unius libri

Friday, July 12, 2013

Opus 2013-228: On the Street: Wanting a Job, Not Work

Last week we were getting something to eat at an Italian place called The Three Brothers.  We had a good conversation going with the franchise owner.  He was still working the place every day after 30 years.  He had been successful enough to support his family and pay the bills.  We got to talking about how hard it was to find good help.  His analysis was that the kids today did not want to work.  He mentioned a 15 year old girl who made $17.00 and hour with tips who just didn’t feel like coming in and texted him to ask if he would cover her shift.

We asked him about his kids working in the place.  They had helped out and could run it for him but he did not want his kids to do it for a living.  He didn’t want them to be forced to work as hard as he had worked. 

He expressed the feelings of most parents today.  They want to have their kids do better than they did.  That is good.  The problem is that our culture has decided that blue collar, working class type careers are inferior.  They don’t see any prestige in working with their hands or getting dirty as they make a living.  It goes even deeper than that.  Our culture seems to feel that people who work in the trades are beneath those who work in professional careers. We really need to change that. 

I see it in education.  Someone decided that everyone has to go to college.  As a result we have done away with the wealth of industrial arts classes we used to have.  We are trying to prepare people for college who hate to read and don’t have any desire to develop the skills necessary for those careers.  People who would have made good mechanics, plumbers or electricians don’t necessarily have the mindset to be lawyers or doctors.  Our culture needs both types of people.

John Gardner wrote a book called Excellence.  I read it years ago.  I think I still have a copy but it is 3,000 miles away.  I Googled the quote I remember.

“The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”

Our current attitudes do not speak well of the future.

This attitude is behind some of the problems we are having with immigration.  It is one of the reasons that we want more immigrants.  Many of them come with skills we need.  Most of them are willing to work hard, get their hands dirty and sweat.  Because of that we need to improve the process for legal immigration while getting serious about the scourge of illegal immigration.

We need to start with a change of attitude toward work and its value.  We need to stop being impressed by college degrees and embrace those who want to do and contribute whether they be our children or the recent arrival.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-227: Ode to Old: Senior Moments

I almost burned my son’s house down Yesterday.  I put some eggs on to boil, got a phone call and left the house.  The eggs were cremated, the pan ruined and the house smells like a forest fire.  He got home in time.

I am not supposed to have moments like this for a few more years.  Does this mean that they are going to lock me up in some senior center?  Will the government use it as an excuse to put me away?  Will I need to wear an ID bracelet and be put on a halter when they take me out?  This type of thing was what made my wife decide that her grandmother could no longer live alone.

Now we try to get rid of the smoke smell.  I should be grateful that it wasn’t worse. 

Onward into senility.

homo unius libri

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Opus 2013-226: Tax Dollars at Work: The Smithsonian

My daughter took me to Washington D.C. for Father’s Day on July 5.  We visited the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, talked a lot and had a few meals together.  That part was a good day and had nothing to do with your tax dollars.

The exhibits are another story.  I wanted to see the one that had to do with human evolution since I have been listening to a lot of discussions on this topic.  It didn’t take long to realize that is was more of a brainwashing center than a museum.

We visited an interactive exhibit that gave you a chance to pick the steps of natural selection and see how we as humans would adapt in the future.  I only got as far as the first screen.  The future was described:  The world is so crowded that there is no room for cars.  Then it asked a question with two choices:  Which will you pick, the long legs like a stork, that are good for walking, or strong legs that are good for jumping like a kangaroo?  What????

I developed issues.

First, the choices.  I observed that if the world was that crowded you would not be moving so my choice would be, no legs.  That was not one of the choices.  I hate people trying to limit my choices so that I come up with the results they want.  That isn’t in my play book.

Second, the assumptions.  What is this nonsense about the world being too crowded for cars?  Have these people never visited Montana or Nevada?  For that matter had they ever driven between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore?  There are still farms in the city limits of Baltimore.  I would assume that whoever assumed the world would be that crowded had never been outside of the D.C. square.  They certainly have not examined the demographics that say population growth is slowing around the world.  They must think the entire world is like the unemployment office in their neighborhood.

I didn’t get any further than that.  I am getting too old to waste my time.  On the other wall was another display that looked like you got to make the choices that would make a species of animals go extinct.  I skipped that too.  I didn’t see politicians on the list.

I hope you have a good job so you can continue paying taxes for this kind of “education.”

homo unius libri

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Opus 2013-225: Monday Pulpit: Debate on the Death Penalty

I teach a Sunday School class of high school and college students.  One of the issues that comes up fairly regularly is the issue of capital punishment.  There are a lot of Christians in the world that have decided that the death penalty is too cruel and should never be invoked.  Many refer to the words of Jesus, such as,
(Matthew 5:38-9 KJV)  Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:  But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Sunday, at the church we were visiting, the pastor was demonstrating how God set up a form of representative government in the elders of Israel.  In the process he pointed out that one of the responsibilities of the elders was to punish murderers.  You can review Deuteronomy 19 for the way in which cities of refuge were set up for people guilty of manslaughter.  The Bible covers the nuances.  But if you keep reading you find that in cases of first degree murder the penalty was death.  Even if such a criminal made it to a city of refuge he was to be executed. 

One of the key arguments today is that life is precious and we should not take life, even in punishing murderers.  That was addressed also.
(Deuteronomy 19:13 NAS77)  "You shall not pity him, but you shall purge the blood of the innocent from Israel, that it may go well with you.
I use the NASB here because I think it is a little more clear.

Notice that one reason given is so that things will go well with the rest of society.  Maybe we need to look at our practices and ask if banning the death penalty is just another ingredient why God may not be smiling on us any more.

This is not offered as a final and conclusive “gotcha!”  It is simply one more piece of the puzzle we must consider as we try to remove the false teachings of the pagan, new age culture that have inserted themselves in our sense of right and wrong.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-224: Links: Police Officers and Gun Control

One of the lies we often hear from the media and government is that police officers are in favor of more gun control.  I have often read that this is not true.  The political heads and leaders in left wing organizations with the name “Police” in their title are in favor of gun control, but not the cop on the street. 

I came across a statement to this effect by Massad Ayoob in Backwoods Home Magazine.

His discussion of this is in sections early in the article entitled “The View from the Street” and “Street Reality.”  Later on he explains why Police Chiefs come across more into regulation and sheriffs are more into the Second Amendment. 

Don’t take my word for it.  Check it out yourself.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Opus 2013-223: Firsts: Letting the Ice Cream Firm Up

This year we struggled through the process of home made ice cream as I stated earlier.  When it seemed to be done we tried something I have heard about but never tried.  We covered the mixer with ice and salt, wrapped it in towels and let it sit.  This is supposed to give the ice cream a chance to harden a little.  I had my doubts, but it was worth a try.

Gone are the good old days with masses of youngsters screaming, “Ice cream, ice cream, we all scream for ice cream.”  Now we are older, more sedentary and patient.  Besides that we made it before dinner so we had to wait.

The results?  It works.  It wasn’t rock hard.  It was just right. 

Give it a try.  Or maybe you already knew about this and didn't tell me.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-222: A July 4th Tale of Woe

This year we tried to resurrect an old family tradition.  We decided to make homemade ice cream.  We flew our mixer across the country, bought salt and all the ingredients, and ran into a wall.  Where do you get crushed ice?

If you have tried to produce homemade ice cream with cubes you understand the problem.  The distance between the container and the tub is not wide enough.  The ice is constantly binding and stopping the rotation.  It can be done but it adds a lot of work to the process.

I visited stores.  I went on line.  I talked to people.  One place that sold dry ice told me the one source he knew about.  I called.  All they had was an answering machine.  So I drove up.  It was a half hour trip.  When I got there I asked the guy if they had crushed ice.  I was overjoyed when he said yes.  I started with a 20 pound bag, dumped into my ice chest.  It looked like cubes to me.  Again I asked, “Crushed?”  He said, “Yes.”  He lied.

Fortunately the cubes were smaller than we get from our freezer.  We made it work. 

How can you celebrate when they don’t make crushed ice any more?  Remember when you could go to a small building that dispensed ice and choose between block, cube and crushed?  Progress seems to have limited our choices in ice as well as other areas.  It seems to be going the same way as our second amendment rights, something we hear about but can’t seem to locate.

Maybe next year.

homo unius libri

Monday, July 8, 2013

Opus 2013-221: Headlines: Zimmerman Bias?

First, let me say that I don’t have a dog in this fight or a horse in this race.  I am not on the jury.  I am not even following the media coverage as a rule because I don’t believe much of what they tell me.  The article I did read today just reinforces this habit. 

I was checking out the headlines on the Drudge Report and came across one titled, “He’s Going to Walk” under a picture that I assumed was George Zimmerman.

Very quickly you got the position of the author when he said, “Prosecutors are at a distinct legal disadvantage.”  It didn’t take much reading to pick up that the writer thought this was a bad thing.  He thought it was bad because he obviously had issues with people defending themselves with guns and Florida’s “Stand your ground” laws.

How can I conclude the “journalist” had a bias?  Read this paragraph.
“So what happened? How can an armed man who shot and killed an unarmed teen after being told by the police that he didn't need to keep following him, likely be found not guilty of those crimes?:
Do you see certain assumptions here?  Has this man already convicted Zimmerman?  It certainly sounds like it to me.

If you could cut through the bias, his analysis made sense.  To summarize it:  There was not enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin deliberately or that he was not in fear for his life at the time.  He says that the law requires those things and they are not there.  Fine.  Good analysis.

But he obviously thought in this case that was a bad thing.  He obviously wanted Zimmerman nailed. 

Let me remind you that it is supposed to be hard for the prosecution to convict.  We live in a country where you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.  In civil cases it is enough to be 51% guilty but in criminal cases you need to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  The reason this is the standard is to keep people from being convicted by a deep-pockets government and to keep you from going to jail because people’s emotions were aroused.

Will Zimmerman “walk”?  I don’t have any idea.  I hope that the jury listens to the evidence.  I hope the judge summarizes the law fairly.  I hope that they follow the law.

The results may not be what I want or what you want.  It doesn’t sound like the reporter will get what he wants.  I do hope that they reinforce the rule of law.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-220: Headlines: Homosexuality Wins, Part 3 of 3, How Do We Respond?

How are we who believe the Bible to respond to the current decisions by the Supreme Court?  Their decisions go directly opposite of our understanding and morality.   What are we to do?  We live in a society that still pays lip service to the democratic dream.  No one I know is talking about a theocracy.  We still believe in the rule of law.  We do, but I am not sure that the courts do.  Until we are locked up we can continue to write, phone and post.  From all the polls, though, it would seem that there are not enough of us to matter anymore.  I don’t usually believe polls but what I see in the young people I know tells me they have been reprogrammed.

How are we to respond?  First, we continue to live as the Bible tells us to live.  This is not the first time in history that Christians have been required to live in a culture that rejects them.  We are still expected to love our neighbors, turn the other cheek, go the extra mile and love the Lord our God with all our mind, heart, soul and strength.  Read the parts of the Bible that deal with Israel in exile and the church under persecution.  Keep the faith.

How are we to respond?  Stand up and be counted.  We cannot shut up or shut down.  We still have a gospel to proclaim.  If you follow the news you have read about the military telling soldiers they can be court marshaled for sharing their faith.  Remember what Peter said when he was told to sit down and shut up.
(Acts 4:18 KJV)  And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.  But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
If it means being forced out of the military, so be it.  That will be applied to all of us soon.

How are we to respond?  Speak the truth in love.  I am a teacher in the public school system.  I have already been called into the office because I have answered students questions about what I think about homosexual marriage.  Interestingly enough, I was not called in for telling where I stood but for saying I stood there because the Bible was my source of right and wrong.  It was the Bible that caused the real problem.  I have told my wife not to be surprised if I ended up losing my job over the issue of homosexuality.  Time will tell.  Truth must be told.  It is called living by faith.

How are we to respond?  I am wondering if we need to follow the lead of the Amish.  They made a decision to dress a certain way and publicly reject certain innovations.  I am aware of the dangers of legalism and how shallow a dress code can be, but maybe it is time.  The standards should be modesty and integrity.  It can’t be as simple as wearing a cross, even pagans will do that.  It might be getting a copyright on an ornament and only allowing people to wear it who agree to a statement of faith.  I know that it means being different.

How are we to respond?  Accept that we are different.  We will not fit in.  We will suffer.  The suffering does not need to mean concentration camps or prison.  It can be as simple as social rejection, lack of promotion or being banned from certain jobs.  It will come.  It is here now.  Talk to outspoken believers in the academic world.  They have been denied tenure and had their thesis rejected because of what they believe, not because of their qualifications. 

Today we live in a different world than we did a few weeks ago. 

What always cheers me up is the knowledge that I have read the Book and I know who wins.

homo unius libri

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Opus 2013-219: Headlines: Transgender Bathrooms

Perhaps you think my last few posts have been over-reacting.  Check this out if you think so and then tell me I am overreacting.  I had heard mention of this but did not see any big headlines so I googled it.  I don’t usually read the Huffington Post but found it there.  It seems that the People’s Republik of Kalifornia passed a law on July 3 that mandates by law that school children can pick the bathroom they use not based on their physical gender but on how they feel about themselves.
“California lawmakers approved a bill Wednesday that would require public K-12 schools to let transgender students choose which restrooms they use and which school teams they join based on their gender identity instead of their chromosomes.”
This is what happens when the Democratic party gets total control of the reigns of government.  This goes so far beyond common sense that most people of good faith would be left speechless.  Yet it is now the law.

If you keep voting the way you are voting this is coming to a community near you.  How many days was this after the Supreme Court decisions were published?

Elections have consequences.  Supreme Court decisions have consequences. 

I wonder what will be next?

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-218: Headlines: Homosexuality Wins, Part 2 of 3, What Will We See?

Homosexuality has won a big one.  What can we expect from this?

What will we see?  Expect the envelope to continue to be pushed.  Think back one generation.  If you had told them that homosexual partners would be getting health coverage, that homosexual couples would be adopting children, that homosexual relationships would be part of the daily TV fare, you would have been laughed off the street.  They would have called it impossible and you an extremist.  Once a ball starts rolling down hill it keeps going until it reaches the bottom and then keeps rolling until it runs out of energy.

What will we see?  Where is the bottom?  Keep in mind that there are already organizations that have been openly pushing for legalizing sex with minors.  It does not take much of a stretch to see that what is now called child molestation will soon be praised as a wonderful expression of love.  It will happen.  Sex with animals will soon be excepted.  If you don’t believe it, hang around a guys locker room and listen to the jokes. 

What will we see?  When the principles that brought us affirmative action and social justice are applied we will be arrested, fined and locked up for even trying to change the law.  Our phones will be bugged.  Our homes will be monitored.  Our cars will have little chips put in.  Our culture has already accepted these nightmares that are right out of 1984.

What will we see?  Since the traditional definition of marriage in Western culture has been thrown under the bus you can expect to see the issue of polygamy revisited.  I do not put Mormons or Muslims into the same category as homosexuals.  That is not the issue, but their traditional view of marriage allows for multiple wives.  In the past the courts have said “no” to that understanding.  It will be revisited and changed.

You ain’t seen nothing yet.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Opus 2013-217: Headlines: Homosexuality Wins, Part 1 of 3, Not the End of the World

And the nation loses.

I am reading all kinds of wishful thinking by people on the right about the two decisions of the Supreme Court regarding homosexuality and marriage.  I am sure that all of their nuances are well intended but the fact is the homosexuals have pushed the ball down the field and are in a position to keep moving it.  This is just the beginning of what will be coming no matter how you want to tell me what the justices said and didn’t say.  They had a chance to draw a line and instead they erased one.

It is not the end of the world.  Life will go on.  It is just the end of the world that we have known.  If you think that TV and movies have been raunchy before, just wait until this decision starts to take effect.  It is all part of a package.  Immorality never stands alone, it must pollute everything.  You know what happens when you leave the bathroom door open.  Think foul gas or humidity, your choice.  It is called diffusion.  Both spread until equally dispersed.  If you have children, pay attention to what they are hearing taught at school.  It will be enlightening.

It is not the end of the world.  If we are willing to sit down and shut up we may be able to exist as second class citizens.  If you think that the harassment of the IRS and the monitoring of the NSA were bad before, wait until they are used to humiliate and trap those who dare to speak out against homosexuality.  In California we saw people who supported Proposition 8 have their careers destroyed because they had made a contribution.  That was before this decision.  Then it was simply a matter of winning an election.  Now it is a matter of dominating a culture.  If you keep quite they may leave you alone.  Then again they may not.

It is not the end of the world.  Keep in mind that the subjects of Rome knew times of happiness and joy.  The workers of the Soviet empire knew how to laugh and have family times.  The slaves in the Southern states had times of fellowship and warmth.  In totalitarian regimes it is only the people who stand out and stand up that are knocked down.  It is only the ones who dream big and try to achieve their dream that need a wake up call.  Remember, when you mow the lawn it is only the tall grass that gets cut.

It is not the end of the world.  What will be missing is liberty.  You can’t have liberty without morality.  You can’t enjoy freedom without having legitimate limits on license.  You can’t have liberty without the rule of law.  That has been removed.  Now we will have fear instead of freedom.

It is not the end of the world.  Yet.  It takes time for the effects to reach every corner.  The police cannot be everywhere.  They cannot listen to every conversation.  Rome was not built in a day.  It was not destroyed in a day either.  If you had lived in Rome in 476 A.D. you would have noticed no big change but it is the date given as the end of the Roman Empire by historians.  If you had lived in Southern Spain in 732 it would have taken you 700 years to be effected by the Christian victory over the Muslims at Tours.  But the tide was turned at one victory.

It is not the end of the world.  We will need to adjust.  We will need to respond.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Friday, July 5, 2013

Opus 2013-216: Headlines: Stem Cells Are Not All the Same

I saw a headline on The Drudge Report that seemed to indicate that stem cells had been used to cure AIDS.  The headline of the article seemed to imply the same thing.  It was an interesting article about some medical experiments.  Two men were treated with bone marrow from someone resistant to HIV and they have been able to stop their anti-retroviral therapy.  So far it looks good.  That was the encouraging information.  Go team.

What caught my attention was the subtle slant.  The news media is playing the issue of stem cell research to advance a position.  In doing so they deceive the public and make it less likely we will see some medical breakthroughs.  Those of us that are concerned about the ethical issues involved in research have a problem with using the stem cells harvested from tissue produced from abortion.  We don’t like the idea of opening a door to killing in order to experiment.  It seems ethically wrong to us.

We have no problem with research done with stem cells gathered from adults.  That is the procedure in the article but that key fact is totally ignored.  If you read carefully and know what you are looking for it is obvious that it was adult stem cells.  If all you did was read the headline you would miss that totally.  Since all of the hype is in regard to fetal stem cells you would probably assume that lives were being saved by such research and thus the pro-life people are monsters who don’t want to save lives.

This is media manipulation.  It is dishonest without telling a lie.  My understanding is that there has been significant benefit from adult stem cell research and so far nothing but speculation, hope and hype on fetal cell stem cell research.  In reality the avenue of research that we have no problem with has produced valid results.  The one we object to has been a dead end.

I know which one makes more sense to me.  Why push a political agenda that forces resources in a non-productive direction at the cost of real progress?  It seems like a death with to me.

homo unius libri

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Opus 2013-215: Coals of Fire

As I was reading through Proverbs 28 in preparation for my other blog, which is a daily devotional approach, I came across this verse.
(Proverbs 28:2 KJV)  For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged.
I happened to look over and see the comments from a Bible scholar named Adam Clarke.  He was a contemporary of our Founding Fathers so he would have been living and writing during the time of our revolution and the French Revolution.  Since it was June 28 and my thoughts were also on the upcoming 4th of July I thought his comments were apropos
“Nations, as nations, cannot be judged in a future world; therefore, God judges them here. And where the people are very wicked, and the constitution very bad, the succession of princes is frequent - they are generally taken off by an untimely death. Where the people know that the constitution is in their favor, they seldom disturb the prince, as they consider him the guardian of their privileges.”
What grabbed my attention was the statement that nations are judged in this world.  In light of the recent Supreme Court decisions on the moral issues of homosexual marriage I saw an immediate application to this world and our lives.  Nations that mock God’s moral law can look forward to a withdrawal of God’s blessing and protection.  We are moving from retail mocking to wholesale mocking.
(Galatians 6:7 KJV)  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
While I believe that natural disasters and terrorism are just facts of life, we will never know how many times such things would have been deflected if God felt we were to be blessed.  Economic disaster is waiting in the wings.  What makes the stock market crash?  Emotional and psychological reactions to news, not wise analysis of economics.  What makes someone with wealth decide to not start a new business?  Often it is just confidence in the future. 

Is it the hand of God? 

Happy beer, hot dog and fireworks day.  While we stoke up the briquets our moral decisions light the coals of another fire.  As our freedoms are eroded and morality is undermined I will morn for the memory of Independence Day and rejoice in the freedom I have in Christ.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-214: Cornerstone Considerations: D of I, Truths: Butting into Our Lives

As we celebrate the 4th of July it is time to think again about the reasons the original rebellion began.  I hope you take this opportunity to read through the Declaration of Independence.  Make it a family tradition.  Much of it will seem like it could have been written today.

I have looked at the opening paragraphs of the Declaration already.  As you read through the list of grievances you come across this.  I believe it is the tenth offense listed.
“He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.”
Think for a minute all of the number of czars that the president has appointed without the approval of the senate.  Think about the current way in which he has allowed the IRS and the NSA to get into our lives and harass us.  The colonies tried for years to be diplomatic about the issues but they were ignored. 

King George III had nothing on King Barak I

Enjoy the freedoms you still have left.  I think you can still choose Coke or Pepsi as long as you don’t want a large.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Opus 2013-213: What Do the Poor Really Need?, Part 2 of 2

When it came to helping the poor, the Founders also thought in terms of the big picture.
“...the belief that God's law overarched every aspect of life suggested that the most important need of the poor who were unfaithful was to learn about God and God's expectations for man.   Spiritual as well as material help was a matter of obligation rather than request,...” p. 8
They understood that if you fed their body and starved their soul all you were doing was preparing someone to go to hell with a full stomach.  Personal involvement was necessary to convey the “why” of your help.

It also made room for a view of the sinful nature.  The method the church I was visiting used rewarded sloth and penalized industry.  Who would get first shot at the fresh food delivered to the “community outreach director”?  The community outreach director and his friends, of course.  Next would be the people who had not gone to work that day.  The single mother who was working and trying to make it would find things well picked over or all gone by the time she got a chance to receive the bounty.

I can’t get excited about the way in which this church or other churches take the easy way.  Personal involvement takes time and demands choices.  Understanding of the problem of sin sets priorities and determines methods.  This approach is not received well by people who have been taught they deserve to be provided for.  It is attacked by those who make their living being paid good salaries to “help” those in “need.”  It is consistent with what the whole Bible teaches.

It seems harsh but I am not sure that some people wouldn’t be better off learning to stand on their own two feet rather than making some well-to-do yuppies feel benevolent.

Olasky, Marvin.  The Tragedy of American Compassion.  Washington, D.C.:  Regnery
    Publishing, Inc., 1992.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-212: What Do the Poor Really Need?, Part 1 of 2

Sunday I was visiting a church while away from home.  The pastor gave what I consider a warm, fuzzy, politically correct sermon that seemed to be saying that the "gospel" means being involved in social welfare programs.  When I was later looking through the bulletin I came across this announcement, reproduced here with its obvious lack of proof reading.
“(Name of church) partners with a nearby low income apartment complex to share our fresh fruits & vegetables puchased (sic) or home grow (sic) (sic) Each Sunday of summer we collect fresh produce & deliver the food on Mondays to the leasing office where residents can drop by to pick up fresh food.  The community outreach director is thrilled that we are willing to share with the complex residents - there is a genuine need for this endeavor.  Thanks!”
On first read this seems like a wonderful thing to do.  It certainly is a nice thing to do.  The question is whether it is the right way to go about meeting the needs of the poor.  I think it is evidence that the church of Jesus Christ has abandoned it’s responsibility to help the poor and has joined in the conspiracy by the socialists in the federal government to keep the poor on the plantation instead of encouraging them to improve their lives.

That is a mouthful.

Marvin Olasky in his book, The Tragedy of American Compassion lays out the changes that have gone on in what we now call welfare from the founding to modern entitlements.  The founders of our country took care of the needy.  They considered it their Christian duty, just as the people in the church I attended.  The difference is that they saw charity as part of a world view steeped in Christian theology not secular social theory. 

One big difference is personal involvement.
“ was important for the better-off to know the poor individually, and to understand their distinct characters.”, p. 8
Thus the idea of dropping off food for some professional to distribute would have been seen as sloth and lack of caring.  Christian compassion is more than writing a check.  If you don’t get involved, you are limited in the help you can give.

Personal involvement demands more than paying someone else to do it.  It also produces better results.

To be continued...

Olasky, Marvin.  The Tragedy of American Compassion.  Washington, D.C.:  Regnery
    Publishing, Inc., 1992.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-211: Firsts: Stone Ground Coffee

I am on vacation and have time to investigate new things.  Couple that with the coffee snob book I picked up used and you have a whole world to investigate.  Currently we have on order a hand grinder for the beans.  This is still in the mail, with the check.  As I wait my son pointed out that he had a mortar and pestle decorating his kitchen window.  Mortar and pestle are used to grind things.  Coffee needs to be ground.

I gave it a try.

I hope the grinder arrives today because I don’t want to be forced to do this again. 

It can be done but it is a lot of work.  There are probably great techniques that develop from experience.  I don’t want to go through that process.  I ground the beans once and sifted out the finer parts.  I ground it again.  And again.  I finally took refuge in the directions on the French press that I was to use coarse ground coffee.  I heated my water and got ready to brew.

It was a lot of work.  It came out okay.  Tomorrow I hope to have the real grinder to compare results.

I do not recommend that you try it.  Learn from my mistakes.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Opus 2013-210: Why So Many Bibles?, part 3 of 3, Philosophy of Translation

Another difference would be the philosophy of translation.  If you have ever needed to work with people who speak a different language you understand that translation or interpretation is an art more than a science.  Words have nuances.  Phrases carry baggage.  There are always judgement calls in trying to get to the best.

One philosophy is word for word.  In this technique you assume that each word has specific value and you want the translation to be as close to the Hebrew and Greek as possible.  It is a very literal translation.  The problem is that it is sometimes stiff.  It can be hard to understand in a culture different than the original.  Well known examples of the would be the King James Version (KJV), New King James Version (NKJ), New American Standard Bible (NASB), English Standard Version (ESV), and Revised Standard Version (RSV).

Another method is called dynamic equivalent.  In this approach you might take phrases or sentences, even paragraphs, and try to put them into modern terms that would carry the same general meaning as the original.  When compared to a word for word translation you might wonder if you are reading the same verse.  If you have ever tried to follow in the NASB when the NIV or NLT is being read you wonder is you are on the wrong page.  The translators believe that they are getting at the meaning and making it easier to understand.  Popular examples of this would be the New International Version (NIV), New Living Translation (NLT), Contemporary English Version (CEV)

Some people try for a paraphrase.  This is a dynamic equivalent approach on steroids.  Great freedom can be taken to try to make the text understandable.  It is designed for new Bible readers or young people.  Examples would be the original Living Bible (LB), J.B. Phillips, or The Message.

In extreme cases of you can get almost silly in translation.  Years ago there was something called the Cotton Patch version.  It called Peter, “Rock,” and had Jesus traveling from Atlanta to Savannah and such.  It was fun and tongue in cheek.  I am sure there have been others like it.

Which is best for you?  I tend to like the NASB.  The pastor of my church uses the NLT in the service but studies from many translations.  Although I have strong feelings I honestly think that the best thing is to get a translation and start reading.  The Holy Spirit inspired it.  He can help you find the truth you need.

I hope this helps.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-209: Blogger Issues Revisited

Yesterday I was having trouble accessing my blogs directly.  I worked around it, went to my other computer and had no problem.  When I came back to my original, everything worked just fine.  Go figure.

Technology is wonderful, when it works.

Grace and peace.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Opus 2013-207: Blogger Issues

When I went to access my blogs today the computer said it could not find them.  I went to other blogs and from there I was able to sign in to mine.  Once there I tried to respond to comments and was blocked again.  I then tried to post and it worked fine.  Again I tried to respond to comments and was blocked.  What gives?

I went to my back-up computer and everything was working fine.  I am visiting my son who is a geek.  I will have to wait for him to get home to look into it more.

Technology is wonderful when it works.  Hackers are a pain when they work. 

If there is a break in communication enjoy the peace and quiet.

Grace and peace.

Opus 2013-207: Why So Many Bibles?, part 2 of 3, Best Original Sources

One of the big controversies in Bible translation involves the Greek and Hebrew texts.  There are two large compilations.  What is the difference?  Simply put, one group has more manuscripts, the other older manuscripts.  Advocates of the first group have a kind of “majority rules” attitude.  In fact they call it the Majority Text.  The second group feels that the older the document, the closer to the original, thus the more accurate.

People who go with the greatest number say that the oldest manuscripts all come from Egypt, an area full of heresy and compromise.  They say that if it is wrong, it doesn’t matter how old it is, it is still wrong

The non-scholar needs to understand we are not talking about major, faith breaking, theology changing differences.  We are talking about spelling differences, a different ending to the Gospel of Mark, verses left out of some manuscripts.  They are small differences but if this is the Word of God, you want accuracy.  Christians believe that the original documents were infallible but we can’t seem to agree on what the first copies said.  This is the goal of both sides of the argument.  The disagreement is on method and priority not ultimate goal.

I tend to come down on the side of the oldest manuscripts.  I am not impressed by the number of copies.  A good illustration that modern techies might understand is the memes that appear on the internet.  You hear some great rumors.  If you Google it you might come up with a million hits.  If you know nothing about the internet you might be impressed but if you do a little work you will find that they all go back to one blog that made the whole thing up.  Many copies of an inaccurate original does not make for accuracy.

So I will go with the oldest.  They had less time to be changed.  I think they are the most accurate.

To be continued...

homo unius libri