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, August 31, 2014

Opus 2014-218: The Proof Is in the Pudding

I recently asked myself a question, “How would the results be different with different victors in the Middle East?”

I was reflecting on a column by Thomas Sowell from The Washington Times Weekend Edition, August 4, 2014, page 27.  It is also available at the Washington Times site.

What kind of Middle East would we see if the Palestinians, backed by the Muslim world, won?  In a word:  Genocide.  They would make Hitler look like a bumbling fool.  That sums up the desire of the Arab Muslim world at least.  If we had another Six Day War and the enemies of Israel were able to defeat the IDF, only the intervention of the United States would keep every man, woman and child in Israel from being massacred.  With out current leadership we would hear about sanctions and getting serious as the blood turned the Dead Sea into the Dead Red Sea.

Is Israel wins you would see healthier, happier Palestinians.  At least they would be healthier since nothing seems to make them happy but killing Jews.  Israel functions under the American philosophy of restraining collateral damage.  This is a philosophy that is grounded in the Old Testament
(Proverbs 24:17 KJV)  Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:

(Proverbs 25:21 KJV)  If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:
It is built into the religion is Israel.  Yes, there were times in the Bible where Israel was told to kill entire populations but it was always specific and focused, not universal.

The New Testament takes it further.  In addition to quoting the above,
(Romans 12:20 KJV)  Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
Jesus went even further.
(Matthew 5:43-44 KJV)  Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
So even if war is forced on a nation it must always be what is called in Christian theology a “limited war.”

Be careful with the modern nonsense of equivalence.  All cultures are not equal.  All ways to God do not arrive at the same goal.  It really does make a difference what you believe and what your God teaches.

homo unius libri

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Opus 2014-217: New Terms: Boutique History

My wife recently handed me an article from a magazine and asked me if I had ever heard about it before.  It seems that a man who had been a chaplain in the Civil War moved west and started a town in California around 1908.  He died in 1914 and the town quickly declined and died out.  It is now a state park with the buildings restored. 

Why go to all this trouble?  It was just another ghost town, right?  Wrong.  The one detail I left out was that the chaplain was black.  That made it a chapter in Black history.

As I was trying to explain why anyone would care about a town that failed I came up with the term, “Boutique History.”  I like that.  History is all around us.  I have a book on the history of the Martin Guitar.  I have a book on the history of Burma Shave signs.  You see these kind of things all over.  They are boutique history.  They are valid areas of interest and research but they are only of interest to special groups of people.  Beyond that circle they have no significance.

So read your book about the history of coffee.  Collect early American cook books.  Research the Nash Rambler auto line.  Go for it.  Just don’t get too disappointed when I don’t share your enthusiasm.

homo unius libri

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Opus 2014-216: On the Street: Who Is My Neighbor?

The world is getting smaller. 

How many times have you heard that expressed?  I saw a new example of it recently.  I was doing a quick run through Wal-Mart and as I passed through the produce section I saw a heart warming sign that said they were supporting local farmers.  The items for sale were from our neighbors.  The display was full of bananas.

Are you one of the geographically challenged?  I am sure that most of my students would have not batted an eye.  I guess the managers and clerks thought it was good marketing.  Here is the problem.  To my knowledge, which is admittedly not complete, there are no bananas grown anywhere in the United States.  Certainly none are grown in Southern California.  I looked and I think the fruit was labeled as being from Ecuador. 

This is not an attack on Wal-Mart.  I am not a Wal-Mart hater.  They carry a lot of low level merchandise but on some things they have the best price.  They do need to go back to school.

But then again, with the level of rigor our schools are showing, that might not help.

homo unius libri

Friday, August 22, 2014

Opus 2014-215: Miracle Workers and Paycheck Gatherers

I have been spending a lot of time this past week at the hospital as my wife went through serious surgery.  There were complications and a second operation.  Things seem to be settling down and she is coming home.

What always amazes me is how modern miracles can exist side by side with age old personality types.

What the doctors can do is awesome.  Major operations without major openings and scars are normal procedure.  Things that were once life ending are now just serious.  Pain medications are met by others drugs for every step of a hospital stay.  Monitors and sensors keep an eye on everything.  Modern science, technology and medical teams work miracles.

In the midst of that you have people.  Some nurses light up the room when they come in and they come in often.  They seem to sense they are needed and demonstrate a genuine concern and compassion.  Aides can make your day doing the little services you can’t do for yourself.  There are some really good people working in the hospitals.

Then there are the ones who have the same training, same titles and plenty of experience but it is just a paycheck.  They always seem to be on lunch break or with another patient.  They do the least that they can and muddle along.  They make being helpless a dreadful experience.

We saw both kinds.  We have survived another crisis.  Our insurance held up and our cars have kept running.  I am looking forward to not getting up at 3:30 to drive across town to meet with the doctors when they make their rounds.  I am also glad it was not me on the table and in the bed.

homo unius libri

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Opus 2014-214: DEFCON: Appearances

What does DEFCON look like?  It generally looks like America except for the male/female ratio.  That is changing as more hackers grow up, get married and bring their wives.  I talked to a lady who was at DEFCON for the first time.  Her children are now grown up enough for her to get away and join us. 

Years ago it had a massive delegation of pale, somewhat autistic teen agers with few social skills.  They have now grown up, some are getting a little sun and some are getting more social but social graces are still not their strong suit.

Many try to find ways to stand out.  Kilts are worn.  I walked behind a guy who had a plastic Viking horned helmet.  Hair is colored with whatever will stand out.  Mohawks and mullets are everywhere.

And increasingly the boring middle is being seen.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Opus 2014-213: Hang Ups

Why do I prefer e-mail to the telephone?

When my wife wants to make sure a task does not get done she asks me to do something that involves making a phone call.  I hate telephones.  She decided it was because the doctor told me that my hearing was going in the frequencies that are common on phones.  I will let her have that one but it is much deeper.  There are times I wish I could communicate with her through e-mail instead of talk.  Why, you say?

Telephones are intrusive.  They butt in and demand attention.  You can learn to ignore them but the noise still breaks your train of thought and is very irritating.  I can even adjust to that but people around me start getting fidgety if I don’t pick up.  I can chose when to check my e-mail and answer as I see fit.  Telephones put the caller in charge.  E-mail puts me in control.

Telephones do not give time for a measured reply.  People want an answer right now.  Sometimes you end up speaking from ignorance or anger.  Later you wish you had put it differently.  With e-mail you have time to think about how to say what is important.  You can check your facts.  You can cool off.

Telephones are usually not recorded.  I don’t know how many times I have been misquoted by people who claim, “You said...”  Many times what they claim I said is something that I would never have said because I don’t talk that way and it goes against everything I have ever stood for.  An e-mail gives me a record of what was actually communicated.  It is a tool of truth. 

E-mail can be skimmed.  I know you are not verbose but some people take paragraphs to express one word.  I often wish I could put some people on fast forward so we could get to the point.

I can talk on the phone.  I can also eat sushi.  It does not mean I like it.  It does not keep me from avoiding it. 

Do I need to expand about cell phones?

homo unius libri

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Opus 2014-212: DEFCON: Definitely Gone

How do you know that DEFCON is really over?  When there are empty spaces at the bar.

Really.  The final session was Sunday around 4:30.  At 2:00 A.M. you could hardly walk through the casino.  You could not hear yourself think.  At least that is what they tell me.  I was in bed by that time.  That is the way it was at 10:00 when I got back from dinner.

Monday morning when I went down to take a load to the car it was almost like a church on Sunday night.  I even found that I could get a cup of coffee without waiting in line for 30 minutes.

I may have more to say but DEFCON is over for this year.

It is now safe to unlock your valuables.

homo unius libri

Opus 2014-211: On the Street: Liberal Conversation

Low information voters (LIV) are everywhere. 

Today I started the day in a hospital waiting room and was forced to listen to a conversation.  The man being quoted was a typical liberal.  He was Jewish but did not keep kosher or feel that Israel was anything special.  He voted for Obama.  He thought Obamacare would be just fine.  What made it all clear to me was when he was asked if he know who Sean Hannity was.  He answered, “No.”

I didn’t know that you could go that far into the cave.

I have never listened to Jon Stewart.  I have never listened to Rachel Maddow.  I could make a long list of left wing, talking heads I have never listened to, but I know who they are.  Some I would even recognize.  How can people be so ignorant that they do not know someone like Sean Hannity?

I don’t ask them to listen, just pay attention to something outside your sushi restaurant.

homo unius libri

Monday, August 11, 2014

Opus 2014-210: DEFCON: Happy Faces

DEFCON is having an identity crisis.

At DEFCON you have a group of guys in charge of security.  They are called goons, officially.  They have red shirts and black shirts that say “Goon.”  These guys have had a hard edge that you would expect for people running security at a con full of hard drinking, rebellious nerds.

Enter diversity.

We now have female goons.  Some of them are petite and totally non-threatening.  Since I am not a violent person and only need them to answer an occasional question, I can deal with that.

Enter the consequences of diversity.  Yesterday as I was going through a check-point in the early hours of the morning there were two goons checking badges.  One was a stocky guy with a surly look who was obviously someone you did not want to meet in a dark alley.  The other was a chirpy little girl with a big smile and a cheerful, “Good morning.”  This is very ungoonish.

What is the world coming to?

homo unius libri

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Opus 2014-209: DEFCON: A Benefit of Hacking

How do hackers benefit society?

One session I went to at DEFCON dealt with our health care system.  A group of hackers became aware of how many medical devices in hospitals contain software and are connected to some kind of network.  It is one of the features that makes our healthcare system as effective as it is.  Information is shared and updated to increase the accuracy of diagnosis and care.

One simple example was the storage module for heat sensitive supplies like whole blood or some antibiotics.  They can be damaged, destroyed or turned toxic by too much heat.  They have monitors in the units that are designed to alert the key personnel on the hospital staff if there is a problem.  So if there is a local failure in the cooling unit, it will send an alert to the phone of the nurse or technician who will come and check it out.

Extend that to monitors and controls all through the hospital.  Some regulate big things like air conditioning.  Others watch small things like the drip lines in a patient’s veins.  It seems it even extends to the records section that have the patient’s personal information and things like accounting.  It is very complex and involved.  It seems it is also very vulnerable. 

The message was that anyone with evil intent and computer skills could hack into the most systems and cause death and confusion. 

The team working on this has been trying to work with the hospitals and equipment manufacturers.  They report that they are getting some response.  I hope for all of our health they are listened to instead of arrested.

Hug a hacker.  He may have saved your bacon.

homo unius libri

Opus 2014-208: A Day of Celebrity

On my devotional blog Perpetual Proverbs any day that I get over 50 page reads I am impressed.  On occasion it reaches 100 and I wonder why.  Yesterday I got 2,200.  At first I thought I might have a lot of spam but there was nothing.  I have been trying to figure this out because it has happened a few times over the last few years.  I can’t find any page or traffic source that indicates this kind of action.

I also thought it might have to do with being at a hacker convention but if they got far enough to read my posts I am sure there would have been some grand, pagan comments made featuring the “F” word and the “S” word.

Does anyone have any idea why this happens?

homo unius libri

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Opus 2014-207: Firsts: No Lines

I tried to give blood while at DEFCON.  The bloodmobile was keeping busy, so busy that I finally gave up and decided I would do it at home. 

I did have an interesting conversation with a woman in the same holding tank.  It was her first DEFCON.  She said that now she knew what it was like to be a guy.  She said it was the only place she had ever been where she could walk into a bathroom and the men had to stand in line. 

That should give you an idea of the gender mix. 

homo unius libri

Friday, August 8, 2014

Opus 2014-206: A Click That Wasn’t

Reading this made me sit up a little straighter.
“‘Consider yourself lucky,’ I said, clicking my Glock onto safety.” p 169
There is a problem.  You may not notice it.  Glock pistols do not have a safety to click.  None of them, at least not in 2002 when this book was written and none today that I know of.  They have different ways to keep them from firing accidentally, but no safety to click. 

I hate it when this happens.  I have been working on reading through the work of James Patterson.  He has shelves of books at our library.  They are in crime/mystery genre.  He writes well and tells a good story.  This shows some real ignorance on whoever is responsible for proofing these things.

I have noticed problems before in other areas of his backgrounds.  For instance, he has his heroes involved in shoot outs and actually killing people yet they are back on the street immediately.  It doesn’t happen that way in the real world.  Every time an officer fires a gun outside a shooting range, there is an investigation.  If they actually shoot or kill someone they are off duty for a time.  Patterson seems to miss that in his writing.

Oh, well.  No one is perfect.

Patterson, James.  2nd Chance.  Boston:  Little, Brown and Company, 2002.

homo unius libri

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Opus 2014-205: DEFCON 22 Begins

DEFCON begins today.  DEFCON is an annual convention for people involved with internet and computer security.  The attendees range in interest from people working for NSA to the friendly neighborhood teenage hacker.  Skill levels run from the people who probably really did invent the internet (Sorry Al) to those who know how to turn on a computer (my spot).  The sessions can be happy jargon love-fests, projection of technology trends or exploring the political moves to control technology.

I believe DEFCON has always met in Las Vegas but it is continually changing, or shall we say getting chased out of, hotels and convention centers.  They drink a lot and party hard.  They take anything with wires and electric current as a challenge.  If you have ever heard of the college pranks of stuffing telephone booths or swallowing goldfish, this is the modern computer chip version of that.  For instance one elevator I was on always stopped at the eighth floor and the button stayed lit up.  One of the hackers got into the controls and made it happen.  Why?  Good question.  Unfortunately the only answer is “Because they could.”

For me it is an annual ritual with my geek son.  He has been paying our way for twelve years now.  It gives us a lot of time to talk and issues to examine.

It should be a good weekend.

homo unius libri

Opus 2014-204: Getting into Good Hands

We need to turn our health insurance over to the auto insurance industry.

This is not original with me.  I am sure you have heard it before.  I may have written on it before.  We have turned the health insurance “need” into a version of the Divine Right of Kings.  Consumers think their wishes are God’s commands.  Or the primary focus of government.

Think about your auto insurance.  It doesn’t cover tune ups, windshield wipers, oil changes, flat tires or any other regular maintenance.  It doesn’t pay for a blown gasket, a bent axle, an overheated radiator or other things that go wrong.  It covers major accidents.  And you get to chose whether you want more than the basic property damage and personal liability.  You decide what you pay for and live with the results.

In health insurance we want someone else to pay for every little ache, pain and inconvenience that our bodies present us with.  We want prescriptions for things we could buy over the counter.  I remember when my doctor started getting excited about my low vitamin D count.  He put me on some expensive intense dosage until I finally asked, “Can’t I buy this over the counter?”  It was much cheaper.

Think about the times you have gone to the doctor in the past year.  How many of the visits would you have made if you were paying for them?  Obviously if you have a heart attack or a stroke you need some help.  If you had to pay for it would you go to see a doctor because you were light headed or had an ache just here?

Sometimes, yes.  Sometimes, no.

There are answers.  The problem is that most of us want a system where we have Lexus care with Kia fare.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Opus 2014-203: Ode to Old: Living in Glasses Houses

I am glad that I have worn glasses all my life.

I am not forced to hide my need for glasses.  I didn’t have a big issue when I switched to bifocals.

I watch other people as they are faced with age and limitations.  It can be an eighth grader at school or a mature professional.  They squint.  They get up close.  They have others read for them.  They fake it.  Anything but admit that they need corrective lenses.

Remember, if you are crippled, a crutch is a help not a shame.

So if you are one of those who can’t read the street signs or the board, get some glasses.  If you have them, get ‘em out and put ‘em on.

It doesn’t hurt, really, and you will be able to read what I have to say.

homo unius libri

Monday, August 4, 2014

Opus 2014-202:  New Terms:  Theophobia

I was reading in Proverbs and came across one of the references to the fear of the Lord.  My mind went on a tangent.  I thought of a term that gets thrown around a lot, “homophobic”, and began to wonder why we have not heard much about theophobia, the fear of God.  I thought I was onto something new.

Wikipedia has an entire category on words ending in “phobia.”   Theophobia was on the list with a linking article.

Oh, well.

I glanced down the list and saw two ways to divide it.  One type of title would be the linking of a Greek or Latin root with phobia.  Examples would be acrophobia, a fear of heights, not to be confused with arachnophobia, a fear of spiders.  The best is phobophobia, a fear of fear.  The other type would be linking some English word with phobia.  I found two dazzlers:  bozophobia and sissyphobia.

Pick your poison, or phobia.

homo unius libri

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Opus 2014-201: Wobegon Fathers

I have finally gotten around to reading Lake Wobegon Days.  It appeared at a book sale when I happened to have some change, so I bought it.  I am not sure that I would have missed that much but I am committed to finishing it.  The biggest problem is knowing where Keillor inserts his tongue in his cheek and when he is telling it was as it was.  I guess that is part of the charm but I like to know what is true because I don’t want to quote it as fact if it is just good fiction.

Garrison Keillor is a well known liberal.  He is also a talented man.  He says some things that read very well and express what I see happening.  The problem is he is mocking as he writes.  This passage stood out to me.
“Father Emil had spoken the week before Father’s Day and said that agnostic liberals had cut fatherhood off at the knees.  These liberals aimed to destroy authority and stability, and so had undermined the Father.  Look at television, Father had said - Dad is shown as a dummy who stumbles around and breaks things and gets into trouble, usually to be rescued by a small child or a pet.  Children watch hours of this junk every week.  Their fathers allow them to watch it because fathers want to be pals, not meanies.  But children find other children to be pals.  Children need fathers to be fathers.” pages 157-158
I don’t follow Keillor but my guess is that he is one of the “agnostic liberals” he is writing about.  What he said was true and accurate.  My feeling is that he and his friends really think this is foolish conservative twaddle.  The problem is, as a public school teacher, in the trenches with the products of these kinds of fathers, I must say that Keillor’s mockery was irony because it is true.

Grab your truth wherever you can find it.

Keillor, Garrison.  Lake Wobegon Days.  New York:  Viking, 1985.

homo unius libri

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Opus 2014-200: The Christian Two-Step

One of the songs we have been working to learn at our church has a chorus that starts off,

“Give us clean hands,
Give us pure hearts;
Let us not lift our souls to another.”

The point of the song is to call us to a life of dedicated service to God.  It is calling for the discipline of a lifetime.  That is a good insight into the Christian life.

If you attend an evangelical church or have ever been to what is called a revival, you have seen people who will make a decision in a moment.  This often involves a public action or statement and can be very emotional.  It can be genuine or total emotion.  Only time will tell.

Most people who “go forward” don’t stick with it.  They either drift away when the moment fades or throw up their hands and say, “Enough.”

Our common culture is into fast food, quick fixes and hour dramas.  We have short attention spans and want it now because we may not remember what it was in a few minutes.  To our culture the call to salvation is like the drive-through when we are on the road.  It gives us satisfaction now.  It feeds a hunger that we feel.  This is the grace that comes through salvation.  It has many aspects such as justification and regeneration.

Our common culture tends to teach us to reject the tedium of sanctification.  In Bible terms, sanctification means a life juxtapositioned to the common standards of our culture.  For most Christian traditions it is the process of working out the ingrained habits and responses.  Although there is an instantaneous aspect of sanctification the part that is often ignored is the life long learning of discipline.  Sanctification is usually one step at a time.  It is tedious.  It never stops. 

People tend to like the idea of being saved.  It is exciting to sing, “Jesus is a wonderful savior.”  People tend to reject sanctification.  It means that we need to sing, “He is Lord.”  As Americans, as humans, we don’t like the idea of someone lording it over us.  We want to do our own thing.

Being a Christian is not a moment of emotion.  It is not an occasional visit to church.  It is not wearing a cross around your neck.  It is a transformation that begins in a moment and continues for eternity. 

I pray that you will take the first step and keep stepping.

Grace and peace.

homo unius libri

Friday, August 1, 2014

Opus 2014-199: Headlines: Promises to Keep

Who said that presidents never keep their promises.  You may not get to keep your doctor but you will get the promised increase in utility bills.  According to the blog, Hot Air,  The campaigning Barak Obama said in an interview with the San Fransico Chronicle,
“Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”
Interestingly enough, the liberal Chronicle has removed this but if you Google it you can find many references and a You Tube clip also.

The president’s promise to raise utility rates is being fulfilled according to CNSNews.  Of course there are many factors in the cost of energy but if you go to the end of the article you will see that the average electricity generated per person is now lower in 2007.

Doesn’t Economics 101 teach something about supply and demand?

homo unius libri