30 September, 2007

In Which I Wander Aimlessly and Really Say Very Little

My boy and I were talking. It was a nice night.

I got to talking about an older couple I saw pull into a video store, and how when they were born they might not even have had a television. Now they can waste their lives watching any movie they want at any time. (The thing that blew him away was that there was a time when to see a movie you HAD to catch it in the theater. If you missed its two week run, you might NEVER see it. He could hardly imagine what that was like.) So, we got to talking about the ancient of days, or maybe just the senior of days, I guess.

He is working at a major department store as a cashier, and he has been getting a chuckle out of learning that I'm almost the last person on earth who writes checks. Fewer than 2% of his customers write checks.

He says, "Do you know what a check means to me? It means an 'R.'"

He scores a G when he beats the time limit for the transaction, and an R when he fails. It is impossible to "make" the time limit when the customer chooses to write a check.

I laughed out loud to find out the main thing I mean to the average youth of today is guaranteed ... failure.

Not that I'm anachronistic or anything.

And I wear a fedora no less.

And take it off upon entering a building.

There's no hope for me.

The other chuckle came when he pointed out that native languages are dying at the rate of 2 per week, and the rate is accelerating. Now to me, that means that the end is near as we close back in upon the state of man that led to Babel. And I'm already leary of how the Internet is drawing us all so much closer together. Even as I sit here typing, I can't help but think, "No good will come of this."

If only I believed in the basic goodness of man, but I don't. I believe that if you let 6 billion people all communicate freely, they will just come up with some new way to exploit each other and a significant minority of them will find a way to justify their remorseless greed. I'm reading a little about the Irish troubles lately, and the degree of cruelty inflicted by man on man and woman is just crushing.

The expectation is that the last three languages left standing will be English, Mandarin and Spanish.

I chuckled when it occured to me that our very last language should be Manglish (the last -ish is the Spanish.)

This is not nearly Milliworthy, but I had to tell someone about the checks and the Manglish.

28 September, 2007

A Challenge to the Usual Evangelistic Message

What does this passage mean to the usual evangelistic message?

Ezekiel 18:20-22
The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.

Specifically, in light of this common evangelistic threat?

If you’ve sinned, even once, because of whom you’ve sinned against you deserve hell.

22 September, 2007

Is Laughter a Blessing?

None of you knows me. Not really.

You've not seen me laugh my way through a 2 hour bible study - whether I'm teaching, the pastor's teaching, or no one's teaching. You don't know my reputation as a class clown. I didn't either until a couple nights ago, when the group had a good laugh at me and my bible study stand up routine. So it will seem normal to you that I'm against most laughter, while it might seem odd if you knew me.

The only humor I can ever remember blogging is my Green Pants story, and I'm not sure that caused anyone any side-pain. I tried humor in email years ago, and it never, ever worked predictably. My humor is dry enough without taking away all non-verbal clues. So, to the best of my ability, I'm just not funny out here at all. (Tari knows of once when I flat-out mocked a troll, but I don't know of any other time I risked hurting someone's feelings for a joke.)

I'm hyper-sensitive on the subject anyway. I doubt it will surprise anyone that I was the least popular kid in my class from 2nd to 12th grade. I pretty much deserved it. I was a thin-skinned, self-righteous prick, and I doubt I would have liked myself, but everyone else was quite sure. So, laughter was always what other people had at my expense.

So, when Lingamish posted, Whoa to You Who Laugh, he had my attention. I linked over from Better Bibles Blog, and was pretty much taken in. He is spoofing things I hold dear. Never a lot of fun. I didn't figure out he was poking fun until the last few lines of the post, which is of course how a good spoof should be. Fortunately, he told us to read the obits instead of the comics, and even I could tell he was parodying people like me. Upon finally "getting it" and seeing him confirm his humorous intent in his comments, it left me with that familar old "outside looking in" feeling that the years and my friends have taught me to hate.

Lingamish is a great guy, and his post is excellent and in great taste. I have no complaints for him, the way he's written, the method he employed, or even the indignity of having been "gotten" by his clever work. I didn't enjoy thinking I'd found someone who half agreed with me, only to discover I was pranked, but the victim isn't really supposed to enjoy the prank. They just laugh to show they're good sports. I guess I'm not one.

You can read my comment at his site, and tell me whether you think there's any truth in what I said.

Here's my opinion. I don't think it's funny unless everyone can laugh from the heart. There are mountains of wordplays and insights and victories in which everyone can rejoice and laugh. But those don't get the glory here in America. In America, someone has to be pranked. And all those allegedly funny movies are based upon someone being the fool. If there's a fool, it isn't funny. If there's a fool, you are laughing because you're glad it's happening to him and not you. Of course, it's pretty easy to hold that line when I've spent a lifetime as the fool.

In my family, I'm held in pretty low esteem because I don't think "Something About Mary" was funny. There are parts of the show where I laugh, but it's laughing against my heart not with it. All the laughter of that movie is of the type described by Heinlein in this not-famous-enough quote, "I've found out why people laugh. They laugh because it hurts... because it's the only thing that'll make it stop hurting."

So, if you feel like a challenge today, take a little read of Lingamish's post and see whether you think it should be taken more seriously than he meant it. (And it's OK if you think it's just funny. :-)

19 September, 2007

Quick Book Review: Why the Jews Rejected Jesus

I don't know exactly what I expected when I bought this book, but I bought it twice. I saw it, and thought it looked fascinating so I picked it up. When I got home, I found that I had already reached that same conclusion some time in the past, because I had another copy already waiting on me.

Any book I buy twice, I figure I'd better read.

It was a Jewish perspective on why the Jews universally reject Jesus, and I found it fascinating.

The author would kick my butt in a debate, and he would make me feel pretty good about myself while he was doing it. He is well read in Christianity and Judaism both. Most Jews frankly don't know any more about their faith than most Christians do about theirs. Not so with David Klinghoffer. He knows his subject deeply enough to impress me to no end. That doesn't prove much, but I learned a LOT reading his perspective on Judaism throughout all history.

Talmud, Midrash, Minim, and a few more terms really mean something to me now, and I appreciate that fact immensely. I now know why Rabbi's have a couple of completely unrelated names, too. Their names are 4 words long so often that the turn them into acronyms, and just say the acronym instead. Who knew. :-)

The first half of the book reads like a synagogue must have sounded a couple months after running Paul out of town when the nicest guy gets up to speak. Paul doesn't get a real chance to answer for himself in this book, and Klinghoffer compiles every single argument against him and presents it with kindness and certainty. I really have a completely different feel for what Paul's arguments with the Jews must have sounded like.

And his arguments are compelling.

I make no bones about it. If he could also convince me that Jesus did not rise from the dead I would convert.

He really pulls together the whole atheistic melange of arguments against Christ being God and combines them with a common sensical, context driven commentary on the old testament prophecies the new testament puts forward to prove Jesus is the Messiah. He paints a vivid picture of Jesus as a normal rabbi with super-normal insights, but who failed in His final deluded attempt to prove He was a Messiah. He shoots down every commonly used prophecy, including all those quoted in the new testament (since he considers it twisted history).

When he gets to Paul, he irenically eviscerates his cunning plan to gut Judaism while verbally protesting his good intentions.

The second half of the book is medeival history, and pretty interesting.

The last bit of the book is where he uncorks his secret. He believes that God is actually using Christianity to pave the way for the Jewish Messiah to return, and credits Judaism's rejection of Christ with the success of Christianity. He is, of course, correct about that last bit. So, Klinghoffer wants to see an ever warming union between Christianity and Judaism as we move closer to seeing the truth of what Messiah ought to be.

I recommend this book to people who want to really feel the passion and see the reason of the Jewish rejection of Christ. It was an easy read except for the objectively, even kindly, rendered insults to our Lord. Be warned, though, this book could convert you.

Are You As Smart As A Harvard Student?

Maybe you wouldn't have to be too impressed if you were.

The average college freshman fails this test of civic literacy. Unfortunately, so does the average college senior. The most telling fact of this whole experiment is how little better students did with 3 years of learning under their belts. Harvard seniors did best, scoring an average of D+ on the test.

There are 60 questions, and I found them quite challenging. I scored an 85%, missing 9 questions in all (detail supplied because it's not a test of math.) You can miss 25 questions and still be doing better than most college seniors.

Enjoy (if this is your kind of thing.)

HT: The Kruse Kronicle
To see all the results and guess at your own interpretations of what they mean, visit here:

18 September, 2007

Biblical Monarchy - Protestants Unite

Suzanne hits ANOTHER one out of the park regarding the foolishness of the modern Christian interpretation of male headship.

Council for Biblical Hierarchy


14 September, 2007

What's "Alive"

I pass an abortion clinic on the way home every day. They have a bunch of carefully worded no trespassing signs around, including ones that make it very clear standing in their parking lot is a no-no unless you're a patient. And every couple months there is a bevy of activists hanging around with unpleasant handbill and signs.

It's kind of hard to miss.

I don't think a lot about it. I stand convinced that abortion is a violation of God's gift to man, but abortion's been around for a long, long time and I don't see Paul or Christ spending a lot of time on it. Your mileage may vary, and I stand with brothers and sisters who stand against abortion, just not for very long. The church is in much worse shape than reproductive sins in my mind.

But as I drove by there was a young unisex person leaving the building and locking up. Surrounding (let's say) her were 4 or 5 children of various ages, and it was hard not to notice the incongruity. These children were skipping and laughing out of a place they might not have survived had they been there barely a handful of years earlier.

It was shocking.

The question that came to mind for a young lady considering "the procedure" was, "What if it's alive?" I mean my arm is living, but it's not alive. If you cut my arm off, you hurt me but you don't hurt it. It cannot hurt. Only I can hurt, because I am alive. My arm won't fight to stay alive after it's been disconnected from me.

What if the viable tissue mass ejected in the procedure is alive? Like those babies laughing and skipping are alive?

Could you sign the papers then?

10 September, 2007

What Is Love?

I finished watching Federer dodge bullets and come out a straight set winner, and left for a walk last night. It had been raining all day, and the air could not have been much heavier.

As always, I walked down to the tennis courts first. It's where I always go when I'm thinky, and I was that and a little bit last night. It was kind of silly to walk down there, since my knee is still suffering some tendonitis and I had on bad shoes, no knee brace and no rackets, but that's never stopped me before.

Yep, there was a threesome of cunning codgers there, all of whom I know pretty well.

So in bad shoes, with a bad knee, a borrowed aluminum racket, and strokes that I KNEW were going to give me trouble, I got out on the court.

How do people say "no" to anything, anyway?

I was right. My strokes were appalling. I just finished a tennis camp where every one of them was reworked completely, and I'm still trying to settle them in. With match pressure on me, and no warmup, I was hitting awfully.

We won 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

I can't help it. Love makes a man do silly things.