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Monday, December 28, 2015

God's answer about hell

   Do you believe in hell?   That's a common question asked to people who are religious and non-religious alike.  In my years of walking this earth I have heard lots of seemingly intelligent people utter the most ridiculous claims about God than one can imagine.   One of the most outlandish statements is this:
                                            God is too loving to send anyone to hell
  On its face it does seem like an oxymoron for an infinitely loving being to send a not so loving mortal to a place of infinite pain and suffering.   For many people, this statement provides a minute amount of comfort as they spin their "wheel-of-life" and see where the arrow lands.   We pride ourselves on our accomplishments of friends, family, work, awards and riches.   The wealthy feel their mounding of riches is a reward from God for their hard work and certainly if God was displeased with them he would not have lavished such abundance on them in this life.    The poor look at their lack of wealth as their "predicament" handed down to them and that its none of their fault for what they have had to do in order to survive.  While those in the middle-class play both sides of this coin depending on how things go from year to year.

    But does God really not send anyone to hell?

    The best answer I have to that question is our favorite 20th century villain: Adolph Hitler.   For no one person personifies evil more than this one man.   A man who is credited with killing:
  • 5.1–6.0 million Jews, including 
  • 3.0–3.5 million Polish Jews
  • 1.8 –1.9 million non-Jewish Poles 
  • 500,000–1.2 million Serbs killed by Croat Nazis 
  • 200,000–800,000 Roma & Sinti 
  • 200,000–300,000 people with disabilities 
  • 80,000–200,000 Freemasons [23] 
  • 100,000 communists 
  • 2,000 Jehovah's Witnesses  
     Add up all those people and you have about 11 to 12 million people in total.  People he deemed to be unfit for living and procreating.   Starting with the disabled, the elderly and the mentally ill, he worked his way up the chain until he attained his goal of eliminating the Jews.  

     We see these numbers and clearly we cannot hold onto the view that "God cannot send anyone to hell".    I believe that Hitler is God's instrument to show us how silly our arguments are when evil is taken to its extreme.  Like a house of cards, it all comes crumbling down.    Can you really hold to the idea that there is no hell at all?   Or is that just another fashionable delusion we try to trick ourselves with.  If that is so, then Hitler got away with it.   Sure he didn't get to live a FULL life (died at the age of 44) but his life was very full and complete.   He had many parades in his honor.  He was loved and admired by his people.  He was feared by his enemies.  He met with the heads of state from the most powerful countries on earth.   He ate the best food.  Drank the finest of wines.  Heard the greatest symphonies.   Saw the greatest works of art.   His name was shouted in large gatherings.   In terms of self-actualization, Hitler was at the top of his game having come from meager beginnings, spend several years in prison and moving all the way to the top of the German parliament.   So what if he died at the age of 44.   He did it!

     Does that annoy you in the least?   It should, if you are the least bit human.  We demand justice for acts of evil.   A bullet to the head, even if it was self-inflicted is not enough for us to accept.  Hitler beat us to the punch and stole our glorious revenge on him.  

    We look at this and we say that there must be a hell for people like Hitler.   He must be punished for all the lives he destroyed.   But that means there is an exception to the premise that we started out with that God cannot punish anyone.   So either we must let Hitler get away with it, or we must admit the folly in our argument and concede that their are people worth of hell. 

   But let's not stop at the one man, Adolph Hitler.   Did Hitler do it all by himself?   Did he build the camps?   Did he build the gas chambers and incinerators?    Did he build the train tracks to the death camps?   Did he load up the cattle cars with the Jews and other all by himself?   Did he herd the people from their makeshift barns to the gas chambers and burn their bodies all by himself?  Did he rip the gold teeth from his dead victims for their monetary worth?  Did he take over their homes and their belongings all by himself?   Did he drive the trains full of people to these camps and see that people go in, but they never come out?   Did he convince people all by himself that society would be better off without the mentally/physically handicapped, or the mentally ill, or the weak?   Of course not!  It took hundreds of thousands to put this altogether.  I remember watching a show on the History Channel called "Engineering Evil" which showed the engineers who designed Hitlers efficient death camps.   In some ways these men were even worse than Hitler as they actually did the work of thinking it all out. 

   But let's not stop with the people who were active in this pursuit of racial cleansing.   Let's also include the millions of Germans who sat idly by and did nothing to stop it.   The pastors and teachers who said nothing to call attention to the evil they were taking part in.   The medical doctors and nurses who administered the lethal injections of the "unfit".   The scientists who saw the folly of Euthanasia and Genetic-Cleansing and did not stand up for reason and sanity.  The people in the towns near the death camps who smelled the stench of burning flesh when the wind blew it into their streets and shut their windows to avoid smelling it.    

    A famous Lutheran pastor by the name of Bonhoeffer who did try to stop Hitler wrote:  
                              "Not to speak, IS to speak.  Not to act, IS to act"
    His words show us that those who chose to do nothing are as guilty of these atrocities as those who acted to carry them out.   That by their decision to turn away and pretend it wasn't real, they became an active participant in all of it.  If so, where do these people fall on God's eternal punishment scale?   Don't they deserve hell as well?  But maybe those peoples lives are just a little to close to our own for us to make that call.  For we all know we have done just a awful things as well either in action or in-action.  We were okay with the judgement line, as long as the line was a thousand miles from where we believe we stand.  But now seeing that line to be a lot closer than expected we become uncertain of our own fate. 

   So the question remains:  Do you believe there is a hell?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Can technology defeat Evil?

    I was watching the rerun of the 60-minutes episode on the future of "Driver-less Automobiles"
recently and the horrible thought occurred to me that this might be a terrorists best-friend.  With this invention they could have suicide-bomber-vehicles MINUS the suicide-bomber.   A new age in efficient killing machines could be implemented in which they would no longer have to spend countless months/weeks indoctrinating and convincing poor idiots that they are better off sending themselves off into the next life than living in this one.   Now they would only need to purchase a fleet of Google-Cars,  load them with explosives, program their final destination through a Google-map App and then send them out on their merry way to wherever you need them to go.  New York Madison avenue?   A random government building.   A school.  A county fair.  An airport.  You could even send it into places a normal person would not be able to get into since there is no driver that guards would pull out their guns and shoot to stop.

    Of course some will say, we will figure out a technological solution to these problems.  But all those solutions are meaningless as they disregard an unchangeable truth:  

                                                         EVIL ALWAYS FINDS A WAY!

    And I am not just talking about ISIS levels of evil either. I am also talking about simple day-to-day issues as well. Take for example the issue of texting-while-driving.   I have seen several "solutions" to prevent this from happening, but each solution I see I only see more dangerous ways around the "fix".   One company envisions cars using sound-wave technology from the cars speakers to "locate" where in the car the texting is taking place and if its from the drivers location, it would disable the phone.   Sounds simple doesn't it?  But all the person needs to do to work around the issue is simply hold the phone away from them in the area of the passenger seat thereby fooling the phone into thinking its being used by the passenger.   This not only works around the fix, but now puts the driver in a more dangerous position than before because now his direction is completely off the road and facing the passenger side window.   Some would say, "No one is going to do that!" but they don't understand (or just don't want to admit) how "evil/sinful" we humans can be.

    As for ISIS terrorists they take their evil to all new levels and no "solution" you might propose will fix this problem.   Any software fix will be over-ridden by a hack.   Any method to disable the car will be turned off.   Any detection method will be cloaked.

    Does this mean we should never have driver-less cars?

    My answer is a full 100%  YES.

    In my opinion, there are only 2 forces in our society driving this "driver-less car" (sorry for the pun) technology.

              1) Laziness
              2) Greed

     Most technology is built on these two forces.   We don't want to scrub clothes clean, so we built clothes-washers.   We don't want to chop down trees so we invent chainsaws.  We don't want to look at a map so we get directions from Siri. The list goes on and on.   Now we are too lazy to drive our own cars.   We would rather spend our time reading our Facebook posts or checking out Twitter or texting a family member.   To many, driving is SUCH a hassle.   Yes we could take the train, subway or bus, but those methods are too noisy, too difficult and they are not on OUR schedule and we have to spend too much of our time waiting for them to arrive.   Secondly, greed factors in as companies want to increase their profits.  Many companies find that removing humans from the equation is the fastest way to do that.  Imagine Google teaming up with Uber and how they could supply taxi services without the taxi-drivers.   So long Uber drivers!  You have been replaced with someone who will work for even cheaper than you.  A computer.

    But we have good historical company when it comes to techno-destruction.   Rome was taken
down as well because of their reliance on technology.   Of course it wasn't computers, but it was something just as necessary to them.  Their aqueducts supplied millions of gallons of water every day to a city of over 1 million people.   Those aqueducts were the life-blood of the city and without it they would not last more than a month.  They found this out 537 when the Goths destroyed several key aqueducts leading into Rome and it was only a matter of days for Rome to surrender.  

    Will we learn from their folly?  Probably not.   Greed and Laziness are too tempting to pass up for most people.   We will continue to put our heads in the sand and say that some smart people out there will find a solution to these problems.  Only problem is the other side has equally smart people working on solutions to our solutions and unlike our people, they are not limited by laws or marketing (if a solution makes a product too hard to use we will often discard the solution) like we are.   Their only concern will be how many people they can kill at a single time.

   Maybe we just have to say that technology has its limits and on the balance of good vs evil some advances are just not worth having.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

We need a HI-DEF country

   I have worked with computer graphics for a very long time.  My first usage of graphics was on a Commodore-64 computer as a college student.   In those days, computer graphics were very crude.  In normal mode the screen was blocks of 40x25 so you could crudely color each block different shades of colors to achieve a rough Picasso-like picture.   You could however turn on its hi-res mode and achieve a granularity of 320x200 pixels but at a cost of lots of memory taken from your program space.   But with that increase in resolution you could draw circles and lines that actually looked like circles and lines.   As computers got faster and screen technology increased we have seen AMAZING improvements in what we can render on a screen.   Pictures we take almost look like the real thing and computer animation that is so detailed that it almost passes for the real thing.   All of this would not be possible without the TV/Monitor technology improvements that allow for more pixels to be colored on a screen at the same time to different colors and brightness. As this technology advances no one ever wants to return back to the older lower resolution technology again.

   Sadly the same cannot be said for our country as we seem to see a movement towards making us a lower resolution country.   We have all seen the election maps were they color our states either all red or all blue depending on how that states electoral votes went during the last election.   California is often called a BLUE state, but in reality only small areas of the state can actually be characterized this way as many counties up north are strongly RED.  But because of cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco their voices get drowned out by the urban areas.  

   To illustrate this take a look at a map of the 2012 election results at a state level

Looks almost evenly divided between Red and Blue areas for the most part.

But now here is the same election at the County level

   With more resolution we can see that more areas of the country are actually more conservative than what the state level map would suggest. 

   As the Federal Government "nationalizes" all the states through regulation and mandates and the States dictate to their counties and cities through similar methods to bow to their authority, we at the bottom have less freedom to express our difference in views and ideas and pursue our own individual paths to happiness.   It's like telling all computer users that they don't really need 1920x1080 resolution and we should all go out and buy 1990 14" computer monitors with 480x256 resolution amber green screens again.   Sure it can still get the job done in some cases but in many cases it just won't do.

   Government doesn't like variety as variety requires too much work to supply.   With 300+ million "customers" it's like Henry Fords Model-T joke where he said, "You can get it in any color as long as that color is black!".  But unlike Henry Ford, who was forced by competition to supply more than black eventually, government has no competition and therefore black becomes the only color of choice.   It's not that government can't supply more variety,  it's just a whole lot easier for government to dictate to "the masses" what their "choice" will be and lower the resolution standard than to increase the choices and give us more freedom. 

    Unless this trend is stopped and we elect politicians who espouse more state and local freedom (ie. Libertarians) we will most likely end up with a country that looks like this

      And we will all be crying out in agony.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

We need to see more than just Christian movies

     Recently there have been a large amount of new Christian movies that have hit the scene.  Most of the movies are the product of Kirk Cameron who grew up on TV's sitcom "Growing Pains".   Starting with the movie "Fireproof" Cameron has capitalized on a small group of evangelical Christians who feel their views are not emulated well in Hollywood.   As a Christian I feel compelled to see these movies and support these artists and producers.   But I don't see it that way at all.  Most of these movies follow a common and almost predictable plot line.  First there is the main character who is either a coach (Facing the Giants) a fireman (Fireproof) or a policeman (Courageous) whose family life is falling apart while their work life is in shambles   Next comes their pastor who challenges them to return to God's word after which everything thing changes. Their wife returns back to them, their children do better in school and their work becomes amazing. In the end everything works out gloriously and even the villains are saved. 

     But that is not how life really works nor is it guaranteed by God in his word. Jesus often even showed quite the opposite when he talked about being hated and being chased from town to town on account of him.  While I appreciate people trying to reach a dying world, the problem is that almost 100% of the people who see these films are already saved and therefore don't achieve their goal. 

    Another reason I don't support Holy-wood is because I am sick and tired of seeing Christians cloister themselves off like a bunch of monks so they don't have to touch the world they walk in.  We have christian music, schools, movies, radio stations,TV stations, bookstores, gyms, coffee shops, dating sites, businesses, and even cruises!   How can you relate to your neighbor if you have NOTHING IN COMMON WITH THEM!!  Here is how your conversation will go with them if you cloister yourself off and only see Holy-wood movies

Jim:     Hey Bob have you seen that new movie The Matrix?
Bob:     No.  I only see Christian movies. Did you see Fireproof?
Jim:     No.  Too religious (alternative:  "Never heard of it")
            (End of discussion)

     This is not how Jesus intended for us to live.  Instead he said exactly opposite when he told us to:
                    "Be in the world but not of the world".   
     How can you be "in it" if you don't participate "in it"?   Granted that doesn't mean I am free to go to strip clubs and the like, but it doesn't mean I sit at home and watch re-runs of  "The Walton's" every night on DVD either.   We have to find a happy medium here and for my Holy-wood is not where the line should be drawn.  To me, it's like saying that you can only discuss your faith if you are inside a church building and since your neighbors never want to go to church with you then ....oh well...guess you never will have that chance to share your faith then.  Of course we see that as an absurd path of logic but often that is exactly what we do.

    St. Paul exhorts his readers to "Always have an answer for the hope you have inside you"

    Translation: Find answers to questions as they arise as we live in this world

    Let's take the conversation earlier and see how it "might" play out differently

Jim:     Hey Bob have you seen that new movie The Matrix movies?
Bob:    Yes I did.  I saw all three.Pretty intense movie I must say.  I wouldn't take my kids to it but I found it interesting
Jim:     Yeah. me too.   I liked the story line
Bob:    Yeah I did too.  I found it very biblical in nature
Jim:     How?
Bob:    Well the names for example.  Trinity is the name of our Christian God. Father,Son and Holy Spirit.  Then their is Neo, which is Greek for NEW so he is kind of like Jesus.   He has the amazing powers no one else has.  Smith is sort of like the Devil that he has to fight.   In the end, when he is connected to the matrix and laid out in a cross formation and is fighting Smith its just like Jesus.  The Bible says of Jesus, "He who knew no sin, became sin for us, so that the power of sin could be destroyed once and for all".   That is just like Neo turning into Smith at the end and then destroying Smith from the inside.  Then their is Zion, which is also a biblical name for Jerusalem, and they cry out at the end "The war is over!".  We as Christians believe too that the war with God is over.  We are no longer enemies but his children now.

Jim:  Wow!  I missed all of that.  Do you think the writer intended that?
Bob:  I don't know.  Maybe.  It just seems all to coincidental to be an accident.  I think he is trying to get across a deeper message of salvation possibly.

And the conversation goes on from here....

I am not saying that every movie we go to has a direct application of the Gospel, but we should try to look and find ways of using our culture to reach out to a dying world.   Take for example St. Paul when he visited Athens.   Did he only go to the synagogues?   Apparently not.   When he visited Mars Hill to talk to the philosophers of his day, he mentioned their temples and even gave them credit for being very religious.   He also quoted one of their poets which means he either read their writings or attended their plays.   He uses this as a spring-board to the Gospel.  A way to connect to them.  In other writings Paul talks about athletes running with no clothes on which could mean he attended these competitions personally (something most Christians today would avoid like the plague).

    We, like Paul, might not agree with all of our world's "poets" but we must take want God gives us and use it wherever and whenever we can.  Who knows maybe a rap-artist might even have some social commentary that we can use to talk up our faith.   We must be more like Paul who even though he doesn't agree with all the greek poets writings, takes what he can and even gives credit to them.   We miss these chances when all we have to say is bad things about our culture and nothing good.  How do you think these Greek philosophers would feel if Paul approached them like this instead

Paul:  Hey I have been here for a week but could only hack walking around your city for a day because its covered with these shameless nude statutes of these "so-called" gods which really aren't gods at all but are stupid idols you guys think are so great.   I was also invited to go to a poetry reading but because I heard the poet was a heathen who has no religious background I told my friends that it would not be good for me to ingest that tripe.  But hey!  While I am here let me tell you about this man I follow named Jesus of Nazareth who is the Son of God and was crucified by you gentiles and was raised to life 3 days later.

How many do you think would have stayed around to hear?   None.

Yet that is how we sound too.


Monday, August 31, 2015

Future of personal computing

   The old phase of "What is old is now new again!"  is a phrase that repeats itself if you stay around long enough to witness it.  

    When I first started out at college PC's were just starting to come on the market.  Mostly used by
geeks who liked to tinker with soldering irons and ohm-meters they made their way into regular homes through the IBM-PC, Apple-II or Commodore-64 (my personal first computer).    Before this only people with degrees in computer-science could touch one and they were "time-shared" either through handing in a deck of punch-cards or through "dumb terminals".   No one really liked the time-share process.   You were at the mercy of the computer operator and you had better make good friends with him if you wanted your work to go through in a timely manner.

     But with the advent of the PC came the issues of you being your own computer operator.  You were now responsible for
  • Software updates
  • OS updates
  • Disk backups
  • Anti-hacking software
  • Hardware upgrades
  • Network management
  • Password protection
  • Disk defragmenting and performance issue fixing
  • and more...
    The more PC's you added to your home the more time and money you seemed to spend on these
issues (when my kids were still in the house I felt like a 24/7 IT professional).   If the issues were beyond your pay-grade you were at the mercy of either a friend or family member who did understand the problem or you spent 100's of dollars at places like Geek Squad to do the work for you.   You may have also been forced to spend 100's of dollars on a yearly basis for other "automated" Internet support through companies like PC-matic or Carbonite to take care of laborious activities like disk management and performance management.   But these solutions are only piece-meal and are by far from automatic.

     Maybe this whole PC revolution needs to take another look at the idea of time-sharing again as its solution to these problems.   But unlike the days of "dumb terminals" which did only text based data (no graphics or sound), these would utilize "smart-terminals" similar to Netbooks which have very little computer/storage power but can connect in with larger servers running Virtual PC's which are nothing more than simulated PC run by higher speed processors.   The PC can now be whatever you want it to be.   A company hosting these Virtual-PC's would sell you time on your computer and charge you for the amount of time and space your system consumes

   Need more disk space?                                             No problem.   Request it.
   Need more processing speed?                                  No problem.   Request it.
   Need a different OS version?                                   No problem.   Request it.
   Need a new version (or old version) of software?   No problem.   Request it.

    The hosting company (most likely a cable-company provider) would manage your disk space (encrypted).  Provide you with more disk space simply by carving up a bigger partition for you.  They could also do auto-backups and even do auto-compression of files not accessed very often.   They could provide auto-scans of files to insure you are virus free.   They could also line you up with certified software suppliers who are proven to be the real McCoy and not some look-a-like company from Russia so your software is protected.  They could also allow you to try out new software or even new operating systems for a period of time to see if you like it or not.   You don't like it?  It simply disappears or you go back to the old version.

   Another benefit is they could give you a choice when you log in if you want a brand-new-out-of-the-box system or one of your last 10 log-in-exits so you can pick up where you left off at.   More complex users (businesses) could keep their projects separated by this method as well so there is no possibility of one project dirtying another project.   These capabilities would allow users to keep their sensitive data from being tampered with.  Take for example you just want to log in and do some on-line shopping.   You would choose the brand-new session that has no access to the project data at all (because it doesn't exist in that Virtual-PC) and therefore no nefarious hacker could possibly delete it or download it while you are shopping at "".  

   Such a system would allow you to access your system wherever a high-speed internet connection can be found.   Your smart-TV could now become your smart-Virtual-PC with the addition of a wireless keyboard and mouse.  Your phone or 4 year-old laptop could also be your smart-terminal as well if you don't want to purchase a low cost netbook computer.

   This brings another nice feature of this system.  Hardware familiarity.   If you look at most people looking to buy a new computer they spend a good amount of time trying out one thing: the keyboard.  Why?  Because no one likes to learn a new keyboard layout.  It's frustrating to re-learn where the delete key is or the backspace key.  It's also frustrating learning the feel of the new keys and how hard or light you can press them.   Many people choose their new laptop solely based on how it feels.   With the Virtual-PC your keyboard can stay the same (as well as the monitor etc) and all the changes are the insides where you don't see them.

   Lastly this system also saves on power and weight.   With most of the "real components" being simulated on the high-end server, your physical system can be made as light and low power as necessary.   With no need to have a physical hard-drive or a high-speed processor requiring a heat-sink your system can be extremely light and with a very long battery life to boot. 

   For most computer users today this system is a dream come true as it would have:
  1. An almost infinite disk space  
  2. An almost infinite memory space
  3. A Simple way to migrate to new OS's
  4. An Automatic backup and data encryption
  5. A Protection from hackers and viruses
  6. A Secure software installation
  7. A Low power and Low weight
  8. Ability to access to system anytime and anywhere
 Who won't like this system?  

  Laptop and PC manufactures

Monday, July 27, 2015

Pro-Life's "Frederick Douglass Moment"

     In 1845, Frederick Douglass wrote his best-selling autobiography titled, "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave".  His book lifted the vale off of the public's eyes as to what black slaves had to endure under the hardships of slavery.  He detailed how he had limited contact with his mother and how he watched other slaves being whipped to keep them under control.   He showed how slaves were in constant fear from their "masters" and prevented from learning how to read and write in order to keep them ignorant of their true condition.   As humans we often cover our eyes to the truth of how brutal we can be as humans.   In the 1800's the public had adopted a humanitarian view of slavery in which slaves were well taken care of, fed well and given opportunities that they would not have had if they had been left back in the African jungle.  Like the Germans of the Holocaust who had pretended that the Jews were simply being moved to other locations in the railroad boxcars and not to their certain death and destruction in the cremation ovens so we too kidded ourselves as to how horrible slaves were treated on a daily basis and how families were torn apart and treated like cattle for breeding purposes.  Douglass's biography blew the lid of that lie and made the American public come to grips with the reality it was willing to live with so it can have cotton to make their clothes, curtains, bed sheets, towels and other necessities of modern life.

    Now today, a series of videos of Planned Parenthood doctors has emerged showing them to be heartless bargainers of human tissue and organs for their own profit.   We are horrified to see these woman doctors talk about the details of their work as they enjoy salads and glasses of wine.  As they crunch on their salads they discuss how they can use "less crunchy methods" in order to harvest larger amounts of tissue for the buyers to purchase as if the product they are providing was apples or tomatoes and not human beings at all.

   The vale has been pulled and many wish it was put back in place.   Many wish they didn't know what they do now know.    It was easier to pretend that the service rendered was that of removing a cancerous growth and not something with "hearts, lungs, kidneys, livers" which can be utilized for human medical research.   Those who want us to feel "good" about these harvests would have us pretend that its for OUR good.   They tell us, "Think of all the good these woman are doing!  Think of all the countless lives they might save by offering these organs for medical research!".

    Does that sound familiar?   Did America not use that same argument for why slavery should be kept in place?   Were our ancestors not given the same bull-shit lines of the economic necessity of slavery and how we were doing these uneducated brutes a better life here in America?  Were they not told to "Turn away. Nothing to see here"  as we are?

    But thankfully our ancestors did not turn away.  They faced their atrocities and went to war to end it all.  They sought to correct their error in judgment and repair their humanity that had been lost.  For you see,  both the slave and the slave-owner were damaged by slavery.   The slaves damage was to his body and his mind, but the slave-owner was damaged in his soul.   Through the atrocities he inflicted he chipped away at his own soul and humanity until there was nothing left.   By his mistreatment of another human being, he himself became less of a human being himself.

    Likewise, in the abortion industry, there are 3 people being harmed at the same time: the mother, the child and the doctor.    Do you think that Dr. Gosnell (the now infamous late-term abortion doctor who treated his female patients with such lack of medical care that he is now behind bars) went in to the medical profession to abuse woman the way he did?   I don't think any person who goes into the field of medicine does so with the intentions of becoming a medical monster.   But somewhere in the story of Dr. Gosnell, he went from a doctor wanting to help others to a doctors who cared for no one but himself.   When and where  that transformation occurred, only Dr. Gosnell knows, but now we see that abortion takes a toll on the human soul as well.  Like the pounding waves of the ocean wearing away at the coast and turning the largest of rocks into pebbles and sand, so also aborting human life and disposing of arms, legs, feet with tiny toes, hands with tiny fingers, heads with eyes and ears developed chips away at your humanity until nothing is left.

    I do not hate these woman on these videos who see nothing wrong with what they are doing.   I feel sorry and lament for them as much as the little children they seek to sell to the highest bidder.   I pray that they regain their humanity and see what they are doing as wrong.   But now the question remains for the rest of us.   Will we seek to regain our humanity and our soul or will we turn away and try to pretend that it never happened.   Will we go on pretending that what is being extracted is just a gob of tissue that only turns into a live human being seconds upon entering the birth canal and exiting outside the mothers body or will we admit to ourselves that that miracle happens seconds after the joining of sperm and egg?    

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Does God have a split personality?

    This has always been a concern of mine since I was just a kid.  It often dumbfounded me as to why in the OT (Old Testament) God lays down harsh laws and punishments and then in the NT (New Testament) God is all about grace and forgiveness.    Does God have a multiple personality disorder?  Why does he in the OT put restrictions on eating, dressing and circumcision and then in the NT says none of that matters anymore?

    It occurred to me later in life after having children that God does not have a split personality.  Instead, he is merely a Father on a mission to save the world.    We fathers are often like that.   We can be reading our kids the riot-act and threatening them with all kinds of punishments one minute and the next minute jovial and kidding around with them.   The difference is the context.   If you have ever been in Disneyland or Disney World you will have undoubtedly witnessed one of the transformations.   All it takes is a father who realizes that they have 5 minutes to make it across the park in order to make their Fast-Pass scheduled time for a ride they have been waiting for all day and suddenly the jovial, happy-go-lucky parent turns into a strict, do-as-I-tell-you-or-else parent who threatens their kids with all kinds of punishments if their actions prevent them from arriving at their destination as scheduled.

     God is no different in the OT.   We forget that God is a man on a mission.  He has already decided to come to earth through the Israelites at the time of the Roman Empire.  He needs to get his people from where they are at in Egypt (around 2000BC) to where they need to be to enter our history and set all things straight.   Like the children in Disneyland, they have a lot of distractions along the way that could cut that trip short.   They will have to wade through cultures that run counter to God's directions.   Those cultures will suck them in and try to dilute them and turn them into one of the many other cultures that don't exist anymore such as the Hitites, the Amonites, the Caananites and many more.   Can you point to anyone today and say they descended from the Amonnites?   Of course not!   They are all gone and assimilated into the other cultures around them.  The same could have happened to the Jewish people as well.  Likewise,  the worship of other gods like Baal and Moloch could cause the Israelites to forget God's mission and his promises to them.   Too often we fail to see that their culture was nothing like what we have today.   We often make the mistake in our minds of thinking that all that is different for the people in the OT is the year and that they don't have our modern conveniences.   But nothing could be further from the truth.   They were dealing with cultures very much far removed from what we deal with today.

     Take for example the god Baal.  Baal was a fertility god who was worshiped by paying money to a
priest and then having sex with a temple prostitute.   How does God compete with that?  The line of men outside of the temple must have gone on for miles.  Now imagine being surrounded by thousands of Baals followers who keep telling you that you are missing out on some really good worship at the temple.  Is it really any wonder at all that in the OT the Israelites are constantly being pulled back in the Baal worship?   Also ask yourself where did the Baal priests get the girls to be the Baal prostitutes?   Most likely they came as offerings from families looking for additional blessings from Baal and so offered their own daughters to the temple for service since girls were held in such low esteem by these other cultures (an ancient letter from a Egyptian nobleman to his wife suggested drowning the baby if it turns out to be a girl).  What should God do about this?  Nothing?  Do you think that these people will end their worship of Baal with just a harsh talking to by their Jewish neighbors? 

     And let's not forget about the god Moloch.  God warns them in multiple places to not sacrifice
their children in the fire to Moloch.  Let that sink in for a while.   These people were offering up their very own children as a burnt offering to an idol to help insure their crops come in at harvest time.    For some time, people thought that this was pure hyperbole on the part of the Jewish people.  But in recent years , altars built in honor of Moloch have been uncovered and the burnt bones of children 2 years old and less were found  (my guess is that most of these children were girls as well).   God's need to remove these people from the land the Israelites were going to inhabit was necessary not only to prevent them from getting involved in this religion, but also as a way to bring the worship of Moloch to an end as well.

    Given all of these problems that could prevent God's people from reaching their goal, God uses a system of "blessings and curses" to help guide his people and keep them on course.   He's not doing this just to be a "mean God" but to bring salvation to the world through these people.    

      But what about all those silly rules about not eating shell fish, pork, etc ?   Why do those go away in the NT as well but not the other commandments like "Do not commit adultery" ?   To answer this you must understand that there are 2 sets of laws in the Jewish culture.   The first is the legal or social laws.  These consist of the 10 commandments and the laws that God gives under these to help them clarify what they mean.    The other laws are religious or dietary laws.  Unlike the former laws, these do not have blessings and curses attached to them.   They are merely told that God detests them.   For a Jew these can be practiced or not practiced, but if you are a "good Jew" you will.    But why did God have them do these things?   So many of them seem so silly to us today.

      To answer, let's go back to our Disneyland example.
You often see families do strange things
when they visit large theme parks like Disneyland.   They will often dress their kids in bright (some would say gaudy) clothes and even put name tags and even have them wear silly looking hats in some cases.  Why?  So they stick out in a crowd and therefore can be more easily identified by the others in case they get lost.    The same goes for the Jews and their religious laws.   It's meant to distinguish them from all the other tribes in the area and remind them on a daily basis about who they are and what they stand for.   Imagine every time a Jewish man goes to the bathroom and they look down and see that their wee-wee is different from every other wee-wee.  Instantly they are reminded, "Oh yeah! I am a Jew".   Then imagine every time they go to the market and they see shell fish for sale or pork.   Again they are remind, "Oh yeah! I am a Jew!".   Other laws as well not only remind them of their heritage but also as a prophecy of what God will do in the future.   Take for example their laws requiring that all debts be forgiven every 50 years or that every year they were to take a spotless sheep and sacrifice it to God for the atonement of all their sins.

    Similarly,  just like the family takes off their "Disney attire" when they leave the park because its not needed anymore so also after Jesus has accomplished all that the Father has destined him to do we no longer need the religious laws such as not eating pork, shell-fish or circumcision.   In fact, the early Jewish-Christians dropping of these laws illustrates to the rest of the world just how real Jesus life-death-and-resurrection are to them as they are willing to go against their Jewish tradition and upbringing for the sake of the Gospel.

     In conclusion, when you take a step back and look at what God's mission is and the various mind-fields he has to walk these people through you begin to understand the purpose of these "silly laws" and you begin to see God for who he is.   Loving, caring and concerned for our well-being and not having a split-personality.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

We must remember history's villains as well as its heroes

    Some day people will no longer remember General Robert E. Lee.   As politicians jump on the "Erase the Civil War History bandwagon" names of the Confederacy leaders are being erased faster than you can say "Forrest Gump".    Statues are being removed, flags pulled down, parks schools and hospitals are being given new names all in the name of helping us feel good about ourselves. 

    But erasing the villains does not change history or what was done.   These symbolic gestures do not change who we are or what happened but only seek to cover it up.   Like a crime scene being wiped down with a a clean rag to erase all the evidence and fingerprints we lose important information for future generations to comb through and learn from.   What happened to the villains is as important as what happened to the heroes in any story.   Who they were and what they believed give us a point of reference to compare and contrast.   Like using an object in a photograph in the fore-ground helps give dimension to the objects in the background that you want to highlight.   So also, these men and battles provide us with a sense of immenseness to what the northern union had to overcome in order to win freedom for the slaves. 

    Also, we have become very one dimensional in our thinking and view of the world.  Hollywood in its movies quite often presents us with simplistic villains that have no redeeming qualities.   They are bad asses and that is all.   No more.. no less.  But the real world isn't so one dimensional.   Yes people can have some bad ideas on race and slavery.   But that doesn't mean they did not have any good qualities to admire.   General E. Lee for example was the lead of the Confederate Army for the entire war and nearly defeated the Union early on despite the Union's unmatched factories and population to draw from.   Compared to the Union, Lincoln had to replace his top general on several occasions before giving the job to Gen. Grant.   Lee was able to inspire his men in many victories against the north and his knowledge of military fighting was clearly and advantage for the south.   Do we erase all of that because he espoused slavery?    Would we erase the history of Lincoln because as a lawyer he represented a slave owner and argued for the slave to be returned to his home state?  I hope you would say "Of course not!".   But that is what you are requesting when you erase the history of people like Lee.   And what happened to Lee after the war?   Was he imprisoned by Lincoln and hung for crimes against humanity?   No.  He retired quietly and never again tried to rally troops to break from the Union again.   He showed honor and grace in losing and brought peace to the South during the restoration.   Are there lessons we can learn from him today?   Can our future politicians learn how to handle defeat and how to put their country and their people ahead of their own egos?

I think we can.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The benefits of shame


   How do those words make you feel?  Angy?  Upset?  Embarrassed?    Parents for eons have used those words directed at their children when they feel their children have stepped out of line.  They may have lied, cheated, stolen, hit someone, skipped school, saw a dirty movie or magazine or a thousand other ways kids get in trouble. 

    Shame has long been used as a societies way of fixing small problems before they become larger ones.  A child may steal a candy bar at a store and the parent marches them back to confront the store manager with what they have done and promise they will never do it again.  My daughter when she was in junior high got caught up in the wrong group of girls who liked to take things from the store.   They got caught the first time she was with them and I had to go into to get her because mom was visiting relatives back home.  My daughter was embarrassed to say the least and was required to sign a paper stating they would not frequent that store anymore.  Shame did its work and she stopped hanging with those girls from then on and she had learned her lesson.  A little shame now for those other girls hopefully would prevent a future larger crime requiring a larger penalty to be used such as jail.   Speaking of jail, there have been other cases where judges have used shame to correct a persons behavior.  It usually was a minor offense but the penalty was one they would not forget.  In many of these cases the person was required to hold a large sign on a busy road telling all the world what they had done and why they were stupid to have done it. 

     But shame in modern society has been utilized less and less and therefore our children will reap less of its benefits.   Yes.  You read that right.   I said BENEFITS.
     Take for example, Bruce Jenner.   He (I refuse to say "she" as 100% of his chromosomes will
always say XY and therefore from a scientific perspective Bruce Jenner will always be MALE) has benefited from shaming in his life.  Ask yourself this.  What caused him to hide his desire to wear women's clothes for so long?  Shame of course.  He internally new it was not normal for boys to want to wear women's clothes and so he hid it out of shame.   That "shame" allowed Bruce Jenner to go on and become the World's Greatest Athlete by breaking (and still holding) the record of the Olympic Decathlon.   That "shame" allowed him to make millions of dollars in TV and magazine  endorsements and appearances.  That "shame" allowed him to become a broadcast journalist for ABC during future Olympics and sporting events.  That "shame" allowed him to become the famous person he is and without it, he would have just been another transvestite walking around with fake boobs and wearing women's clothes and makeup.   No Olympic medal. No endorsements.  No fame.  No "Life with the Kardashians".   Nothing.   You can also assume as well that without all that money he would not have the necessary funds to pay for the expensive surgery and procedures to do his transformation process and Catlyn would just be another dream unfulfilled.

    So what about future Bruce/Catlyn Jenner's that are out there?  How many other boys who are unsure about their masculinity will choose to assume a different persona instead of hold their inner demons at bay and strive to make something of who they are as men?    We've already seen so called parents who are willing to let little Joey dress up like sister Jamey.  They don't want to "shame" their son into behaving as he should.   To them, there are no social boundaries that should be adhered to.  It's easier for them to demand that the "world change" and not their son or daughter.   They abdicate their responsibilities as parents for fear of being labeled bigots or intolerant.  They let so called psychological "experts" determine their actions as parents and so leave their children to the vices of the world.

    We will never understand all the mental illnesses that inflict people of our society.  That is how I see Bruce Jenner.  I don't see him as a hero.  I see him as a poor mentally ill person who in his aging years has decided to stop fighting his illness and give into it.   He has decided to put aside his children and family who now must come to grips about their "father".   Their feelings are inconsequential to him now.   He may shed tears of sorrow for them, but those are just alligator tears and nothing more.  His actions say "SCREW THEM! ITS MY NEEDS!".  They must be dragged into this whole circus and be paraded around like a bunch of trained elephants for all to see and question.  Their needs have been weighed in the balance and "Catlyn's" needs must come first and foremost.  After all, in our current societies view it's no longer considered to be an illness.   It's now viewed to be a great triumph for mankind.  One small step for Catlyn... one giant leap for all things strange and perverted.  Our children no longer have heroes to look up to like Neal Armstrong,  Jacky Robinson,  John Wayne or Hank Aaron.  Now in our politically correct world it's a parade of mentally ill people who grace our magazine covers.   Break a 100 year record?  Who cares!  Find a cure for cancer?  Big deal!  Stop a terrorist from killing hundreds of people?  So what!  But break some social convention and make people grimace as they contemplate your decision to come out of yet-another-closet.... HE'S A HERO!  LET'S CELEBRATE!!

    There's an old saying that says "If you promote something you will get more of it".  If this is true, I guess we will be seeing a lot more "Catlyn's" in our future. 

    So all I can is "Pass the barf bag".


Friday, May 22, 2015

Don't raise your children in a "Truman dome"

    If you remember the ending of the movie "The Truman Show", we see Truman who has been for his entire life lied to by everyone around him.  He is the only person in the show that is not in on the joke that he is living out his life inside a giant dome where everything is controlled (including the weather).   His life is one magical encounter after another.  He is smiled at by everyone and he is told by everyone how great a person he is.  But then he starts to wake up to the reality of his situation.  Things don't add up and by the end of the movie he must make a decision to stay inside the dome or exit into the REAL world.  (We don't get to see what happens AFTER he leaves but we assume all is well and good for him).

   This decision is the same one our kids make as they graduate from college.

   Which brings me to a trend I have noticed lately on the internet.   This is the season for graduation commencement addresses to be given all across the land.  Colleges are promoting their students to the next level in life and to do so bring in a variety of speakers to do the task of inspiring them for their future endeavors.   What I have noticed is a increase in commencement "truth telling" that we have not seen before.   We hear less of the "you are special", "you can do it", "you are the bright stars of our future we have been waiting for.." and more from truth-tellers are willing to stand up to their podiums and pronounce the hard facts to the youth robed and sitting in front of them.   They tell them things like:
  1. You are not special
  2. Life is hard
  3. You will fail
  4. Life is more than awards
  5. You need to work hard to get anywhere
   These facts are important for them to hear.  But I am afraid for many of them they are too late to be taught.  They have spent the last 21 years of their life coddled, pumped up, lavished with trophies, told they are 1 in a million, excused for their failures and given grade that are meaningless.  Those lessons have been taught in classrooms, soccer fields, playgrounds, at awards ceremonies and at home.   When they lost a game they were told the other team was just a little better and they are really a good team.   When they got a bad grade on a report card they were excused because either "that class was really tough" or "that teacher was not fair" but not because "they failed to turn in assignments or study for quizzes and tests".   At the end of their soccer or baseball seasons we handed out plastic participation trophies most of which are now wasting space in either attics or garbage dumps.   But no matter, it made them feel "good about themselves".

     Now we delude ourselves into thinking that a 20 minute sermon from a Hollywood star or a multimillionaire will undo all those years of damage?   To me, that's like you weighing 400 lbs from spending your whole life eating nothing but McDonald's fast food and you think eating a couple of celery sticks is going to slim you down to a normal weight.   But that is our mode of operation here in America these days.   That's life in the Delusional States of America where we think a motivational speaker can change everything if we pay them enough money.

     Your kids have a long hard row to hoe and many of them are picking up their hoe now for the first time in their life.   They will get blisters on their hands and their arms and backs will hurt.  Many will give up and come back to your nests because the worlds is too painful for them.  My hope for them (and you) is that you don't "rinse and repeat" the same mistakes.   My son came back for a couple of years too (I have written about it before) but he realized how much harder the world is and that he needed that slap of reality to wake him up.  He has worked very hard to change himself and make a life for himself.   He faced his mistakes and bad decisions.  He has surrounded himself with like-minded people who want to travel that "road less taken" to make something of themselves and has since ventured back out on his own to take on new challenges.  He knows he will fall down again at some point.  He knows that both failure and success are in his future and he needs to work through those failures when they come.

     For those of you whose kids are still in elementary school there is still time to change course.  You can be your own child's "truth-teller" and "inspirational speaker" if you want to.  Maybe it starts with you telling your soccer coach that they won't be going to the award pizza party (or at least they don't need a plastic participation trophy).   Maybe it's not rewarding your kids for getting B's when they could get A's.   Maybe it's simplifying their birthday parties and keeping them simple (even just within the immediate family).   Or it is talking about your failures and not just your successes to them so they know that you didn't always have it so easy.   Whatever the case, don't wait for their college or high school graduation to come for unlike "The Truman Show" there might not be so happy of an ending for them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bowling for sinners

    Ever since I was about 6 years old I have loved bowling.   I can still remember my family going to a bowling alley in Carlyle Illinois to bowl a few games.   I remember it well because it was the first time I ever bowled a STRIKE!   Back then we didn't have gutter-bumpers to keep the ball in the alley either for the kids.   In those days, it was as difficult for the kids as it was for the adults to get the ball all the way down the alley and hit the pins.  That night I bowled a 52 and I kept the score sheet tacked to my bedroom wall to look at for weeks on end.

    Bowling is a strategic game where you try to hit the front pin (#1) in just the right way that that ball knocks enough pins such that they ricochet in a manner that all 10 get knocked down.  If you don't hit that first pin, your are not going to get a strike unless you are very very lucky.   Also strikes are beneficial in bowling because you add the next 2 balls you bowl to the current frame you just got a strike in.   So if you bowl 2 more strikes after this one (referred to as a "turkey" ...don't ask me why... it just is), you get to add 20 more points to the 10 you got for this frame and that adds 30 points.  Call it the compounding effect.

    Satan uses this same compounding approach in our lives as well.  Our sins have a tendency to replicate and increase in scope those they impact.   A one-night affair for example can lead to divorce, divorce can ruin the children's lives and cause them to hate their father (or mother) and lead to drug abuse, teen pregnancy and even suicide.   Children of divorce also are more likely to stop going to church (if they did before) as they associate their father being a hypocrite and a phoney-baloney christian which they want nothing to be a part of.   Once this is accomplished it may be MANY generations until that family ever has a member darken the doorway of a church ever again.

     The effect of the one sin is thereby multiplied many times over.   This is why parents need to be so careful.  They are not just looking out for themselves but also their children and grandchildren as well.  What caused me to write this blog was I just read a story of a Lutheran pastor in Michigan who is married and has 5 children was found to have a profile on a dating website and had apparently several hookups.  How did this happen?   My guess is started by him using porn, but that is just my guess.   For whatever the cause, his sin has tragically destroyed not only his marriage and his children but also untold hundreds of his members.   Many congregations that go through such an upheaval will lose members by the droves and might end up closing their doors for good.

     I call this Satan's "bowling for sinners" and it's extremely effective. 

     I can recall one time when I was faced with a similar situation.   It was late at night (10:30 or so) and everyone else was in bed (my kids were 6 & 7 at the time) and I needed to go do some grocery shopping because we had nothing to make for their lunches the next morning.   I went to a store called Food Source and did my shopping.   When I reached the checkout counter I saw a very beautiful blonde woman checking out in front of me.  Because Food Source allowed 2 people to bag their food in parallel at the same time, we were both bagging our food and exchanged simple pleasantries ("Hi. Nice night").   Since I had less groceries I finished first and exited the store.  As I pushed my cart out to the car I could hear a cart coming up quickly behind me and noticed it was her running with her cart.  She said, "Oh this is nice! I am parked right next to you!".  I put my bags in the car and was intrigued as to what she wanted (I won't lie).   As I was about to pull out she tapped on my window.  After I rolled down my window she asked if I could wait a minute and so I did as she put her cart away.   She then came back and said "I would be really happy if you followed me home.  Hope to see you later!" and with that she got into her car and drove slowly off waiting for me to catch up to her.   As I pulled my car out of my parking space a simple thought came to me:

Nothing GOOD can come from this

     And with that as she exited the parking lot, she turned right and I turned left and I never saw her again.   I don't know what she had in mind.  Maybe it was sex.  Maybe it was all a joke.  Maybe she had a bet with a friend and I was a way to win it.  Maybe she was nuts. I really don't know.   I think that in that moment God spoke to me in those few words inserted into my brain.  Like Joseph  confronted with Potifer's wife asking him to lay with her and him saying "How can I do this and sin against God!" and then running out of the house half naked.   That is how I felt.   Yes, to some of you it would have been better if I had said that suddenly I saw the face of my wife and kids flashing before my eyes or something of that line that made me change coarse but it wasn't.   This isn't a scene from a Hollywood movie and frankly, I don't think men's brains are built that way.   Robin Williams once put it this way when talking to Johnny Carson: 
"God gave man a brain and a penis but only enough blood to run one of them at a time"
     That is how I always feel when I see men destroyed by their decisions they make.  Take for
example Tiger Woods.   The man had everything you could want.  Fame (everyone knows his name).  Fortune (worth millions).  Great wife (a super model).   Now, he's lost it all.  His golf game crumbled (hasn't won a major tournament in years), his wife left him with the kids, he became the butt of late night comics and he lost all his TV/magazine advertising endorsements.    All this because he wanted to spend a few minutes with women who, in my opinion, were nothing more than discount prostitutes. 

     I often pray to God that I never do anything that would destroy my marriage or my kids faith in Him.   I know how easily it can happen today as marriage is held in such low esteem these days among people and so few care if a man has a wedding ring on or not (and for some women it can actually serve as a dinner bell).   I don't want to be pin #1 in Satan's sights with my wife, kids and future grandchildren following close behind. It is for this reason these 10 words in the Lord's Prayer mean so very much to me every time I say them.
"Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil!"
    Let me be very clear here.  I am not saying that I never sin.  I do.  I sin hundreds of times a day.  Just ask my wife and she will tell you that the last thing I am is a saint.  What I pray is that I never commit a sin so grievous that would harm my family or their faith beyond repair.

    That "strike" I could never live with.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Christians thinking small rather than BIG.

     We've all seen the commercials where a star athlete has just won a major victory and the camera comes up to them and says, "Hey ___________! You just won ___________!  What are you going to do NEXT?"  and of course the answer is always the same.  "I'm going to Disney World!".

     You might say the same happened to Jesus after the resurrection.   In Acts 1:6 it says
"So when they met together, they asked Jesus 'Lord are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?' "
     I find it interesting that the passage does not indicate any one disciple asked him the question.  So it must have been a group request that they had been discussing.  Here Jesus has just gone through a excruciating ordeal of beatings, floggings, mocking, crucifixion, death and ultimately being resurrected and now he is being asked what he's going to do NEXT for his "hat trick".    Many of them joined Jesus because they had visions of him ruling from King David's throne and kicking the Romans out.  To many of them, being under Roman rule (or any Gentile rule for that matter) was an injustice that needed to be rectified by God for them to realize their full potential and purpose as God's chosen people.  Maybe they thought there was still a chance Jesus will do that very thing.  After all, in their minds all he had to do was march back into Jerusalem (they could even get another donkey for him to ride in on) go to the Temple, show himself to all the priests and then to Pilot and then "BOOM" he would be made King and no one would dare touch him. 

      Jesus response is simple (Acts 1:7-8)
"It is not for you to know the times and dates the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth"
     He in effect is telling them that they are thinking "too small" and they need to think bigger.  They were not just going to sit back in Jerusalem and enjoy the glory days of old.  They were going to get sent out to the very ends of the earth to proclaim the good news of Salvation.  They were not going to "Disney World" but instead to the WHOLE WORLD.   Their eyes must have popped out of their heads when they heard these words. 

      We today often think small too.  We want heaven on earth now just like the disciples did.  We see injustice all around us.  We believe these injustices need to be remedied by God for us to realize our full potential as his children.  Some of us, like the disciples, long for the glory days of old and want God to restore them ASAP.    We may ask God:
  • Lord will you at this time restore our country to the 1950's (or 1980's)?
  • Lord will you at this time end poverty?
  • Lord will you at this time end unemployment?
  • Lord will you at this time end racism?
  • Lord will you at this time end cancer?
   Even within the church we see people thinking small instead of big.  For years the Lutheran Church has been under fire to allow woman Pastors (I am talking about the LCMS and WELS).   We see other churches change course on this in modern times.  The ELCA Lutherans have.  The Presbyterians have.  The Episcopal church has.  So why not our church?   To some this may be seen as an "injustice" that needs to be rectified for them to move forward.  Maybe their request would be "Lord will you at this time allow woman to serve as pastors?".   But given our position on scripture and that there is no clear command from Jesus that this is to change from the old covenant to the new covenant, I would have to say the answer from God would be the same,
"No.  But you go and be my witnesses to the end of the earth!"   
     God knows we have a limited amount of time (he has set the date) and a limited amount of energy to use (cannot be created or destroyed according to Sir Isaac Newton) and therefore we must make the most of the time and energy we have to reach as many as we can with the good news we have.   When we strive to make our heaven here on earth we waste our time and energy.  Yet I see so much of this today in the church as it struggles with non-gospel related subjects.  Many churches have decided that the world is better and fairer than the church and they seek to bring the world into the church.  Even though Jesus had warned us to be "in the world but not of the world".  Like a boat moving in the ocean is in the water but does not let the water into it or else it sinks, so also we must be careful to not let the worlds ways distract us from our REAL mission.
      Not that these injustices are small in scope at all.  Poverty, hatred, disease are all immense and important issues and God wants us to be involved in.  But our goal is not the idea we can eradicate these injustices (even Jesus said, "The poor you will always have with you"), but that we as his disciples and witnesses can use these injustices to reach the people with the Gospel of God's justice of paying the penalty of all our sins through his son, Jesus Christ.  We know that these issues will ultimately be fixed when God creates a new heaven and a new earth.  We must therefore be his witnesses to reach the unsaved and give them true eternal justice.

      We need to think BIG as Christians and stop thinking small.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

You're asking for it!

      I can still remember the news story as if it was yesterday.   A congressman had brought to the
attention of Congress that money had been paid under the Endowment for the Arts to an artist who took a picture of a crucifix dipped in a glass of urine.  The piece was called: Piss Christ.   After seeing it, I was the one who was "pissed".   How could someone do something like that and call it "art".    Congress's phone lines went on overload from other angry citizens like myself.   But our anger was not so much that an artist would do such a thing, but that our tax dollars went to pay for this work of art which meant I paid an artist to slap me in the face and call it art.   Did the Pope send out an order to kill the artist?  Did Billy Graham post "Wanted" posters with the artists face and address on it?   Did the artist have to go under FBI protective services?  

     No.  No and No.

     Recently some cartoonists in Texas decided to hold a contest to draw a picture of Mohammad and 2 jihadist from Arizona drove to kill them all and were only stopped by a police officer with excellent aim and precision.   Some, like Bill O'Reilly, in the media have said that the contest members had it coming.   They say that their contest was unnecessary and was "asking for it". 

     Is that what it has come down to?   Is FEAR now the gauge we must use when deciding what to say and what not to say?    Won't this give any other group who doesn't want their views mocked or ridiculed the rationale to commit violence to end all discussion?   Where will it end?  We know many Muslims are against alcohol and scantily dressed women too.  What if Muslims become enraged about how we dress or what we drink?   Would we say a girl in a bikini was "asking" for it if she is killed on a beach?   What if a person like me writes that Muhammad was NOT a prophet and his writings are pure fiction?   Should I be killed for mocking them?   Am I asking for it too?  What if I show up at a Yankees game wearing a Boston Red Sox jersey and I get knifed by an irate fan?  Would it be considered "justified murder"?   I guess using Bill O'Reilly's logic all the cases mentioned herein would be people "asking for it".

     In my opinion fear should have no basis in Free Speech decisions.  Our nation is built on not just the ideal of free speech but also the ideal that citizens who hear speech they disagree with are able to control their emotions and allow others who do not share the same view to voice their opinion without harm to their person.  Those who wish to live here in this country must be willing behave in such a way or be asked to leave.   

     As I wrote in a previous blog, the last line of our national anthem says: "O'er the land of the FREE and the home of the BRAVE".   The BRAVE in our country are not just those who wear military uniforms and go to far off countries to fight for us, but also those here at home who choose to use our freedom to voice our views in the sight of those who would use FEAR to take our FREEDOMS from us.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Internet resonance can be destructive

     Even though I am using the Internet right now as I write the blog and even though as a computer engineer I owe much of my living because of it,  I can say without a doubt that I absolutely detest it.   It reminds me of a famous video I had to watch in college in an "Introduction to Engineering" course where we watched how bad engineering can have disastrous effects.   Take for example the infamous Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse

     This famous video shows the destructive force wind gusts and "standing waves" can have on a steel and concrete bridge structure.  This happens when the gusts of wind happens to match the natural resonance of the bridge and the wave grows bigger with every little gust of wind.   This resonance builds and builds until finally the bridge cannot take it anymore and it rips apart and collapses into a pile of rubble.

    This is how I feel our world is being ripped apart by the internet and those who think that there little pushing and shoving doesn't do much but when combined with thousands of others pushing and shoving at the same time it can have a disastrous affect on our country and societies foundations.  Every little sarcastic tweet, every little nasty comment in a comment section of a blog or news article, every little hurtful comment on a pizza restaurants Yelp page, every little lie about a person or group of people on Facebook or other social media outlets.   All of these build and build on each other an will eventually lead to our own downfall. Take for example the case of the pizza restaurant under siege because their teenage daughter answered a hypothetical question about if they would cater a gay wedding.  Her answer was sincere and it launched a tirade of hateful comments on Twitter, Yelp and Facebook.   The restaurant has had to close because they could not answer the phone anymore for orders.  Their Yelp page was loaded with bogus ratings and comments.  Even a person from Wisconsin tweeted out if anyone was interested in going down to Indiana to burn the place down.  All this over one innocent comment on a hypothetical situation that would never occur (Really?  Pizza for a gay wedding???)

    In the case of the bridge, the answer to the problem was to design the bridge to interrupt the wind gusts and change its natural resonance frequency to a frequency that was highly unlikely to ever occur in nature.    Maybe such an answer is needed here as well.  Maybe what we need is to have Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools randomly delay our messages to when they are posted so that they do not immediately affect society in destructive manners.   This allows your message to still be posted, but it removes the instant gratification we get that can be so harmful because it feeds our egos to post again and again ... and again!   It will also serve to interrupt our posts destructive effect on others who may see our post and be emboldened to either retaliate or say something even worse. 

    But maybe a better answer is to just turn off social media altogether and live our lives like the world DOESN'T depend on me.   After all isn't that the feeling you get when you are plugged into the internet?   That it all depends on me?   We develop a god-like persona when we flip it on.   I am instantly heard by thousands or even millions.   I can see everything going on in the world.   I am prayed to by thousands of "followers".  I am loved (or at least "liked") by many people.   I can make myself into an expert on any subject with a simple click into Wikipedia and a quick perusal of the first paragraph without needing to dig to deep into the content.  Along with this god-like feeling of omnipotence, I have the added feeling of superiority over all who disagree with me because I am not alone either for there are many other gods like myself who also agree with me because we all read the same websites that reinforce our views.

    Maybe we just need to chill and be nice to one another again before this bridge falls apart.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A conscience is a terrible thing to waste!

    Back in the 1970's an ad-campaign by the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) had a very simple and catchy phrase:
Because a mind is a terrible thing to waste
    This meant that wasting anyone's mental abilities to contribute to society would hurt us all in the end and therefore we should try to help ALL people become more educated.   The campaign worked and blacks enrolling in college increased through scholarships offered by the UNCF.

     Today we may need a new ad-campaign:
Because a conscience is a terrible thing to lose
     Martin Luther, the 16th century Christian reformer, was what you might call a conscientious objector.   He was called before the Catholic hierarchy and the politicians to re-cant (take back) all he had written as he revealed how far the church had strayed from its roots and teachings.   Martin Luther asked for one day to formulate his answer and he was granted it.   After a night of prayer Marin Luther returned to the court to give his answer and here it is:

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.
     We owe much to his bravery to stand up to the powers as he was branded a "heretic" and had a bounty put on his head for anyone to collect.   He was given refuge by a German nobleman who agreed with his teaching and lived in his castle attic for many years while he took on the work of translating the Bible from Latin into German.   His willingness to stand up for his conscience freed many more like him who also no longer agreed with the Catholic churches teachings.

    A conscience is a very personal thing.   It is at the very heart of our Freedom of Religion and to have our own set of beliefs to follow.   It was once said that,

 "If you can't live with yourself then who CAN you live with?".   

    A dead conscience will eat you alive from the inside like a maggots eating rotting flesh of a deceased person.  A conscience drives us each to do what is right in our own eyes despite the opposition.   We've all been there at some time in our lives.  We were in a position to speak up for someone or some group and we chose to be silent.   We  remember those times vividly as we play it over and over again in our minds. We agonize over our choice knowing we chose wrong and the repercussions of us doing so were obvious.  It's a difficult thing to do.   Often it is occurrences like these that cause so many our war-weary-soldiers so much depression and guilt that it incapacitates them and prevents them from rejoining society.

     Today, people around our country are being asked to go against their consciences as well.   For example, people who own bakeries are told they MUST make wedding cakes for weddings they do not agree with.   You may not like their position any more than the Catholic church did not like Luther's.   But at odds is their conscience verses your insistence that they bow to your edicts that gay marriage is no different than traditional marriage.   Should they stuff their conscience away and never listen to it again?   What kind of country will we become if we force all of our citizens to ignore their consciences when they go counter to the governments or the majority's wishes?  Should they only care what the government believes is right and follow orders?   Should such people be jailed for having a difference in opinion or view?  Should they be put out of business for their faith?  Should the churches they attend be taxed or fined since it was those institutions that undoubtedly influenced them to have such a narrow view of marriage?

    Another thing to consider when you decide to use the blunt force of the government stick to get people to do your wishes is you build increasing amounts of anger and animosity towards you group rather than acceptance.  Of course you can force their physical bodies to perform the deeds you asked for, but their hearts and minds will be forever against you.   This will only require you to use increasing amounts of force over time to move the pendulum further to your side of the room.   But watch out for the day will come that you will not be able to push it any further and the pendulum will swing the other way and all that pent up energy will be released in ways that can be very destructive.   Other countries have witnessed this in their own countries (mostly African countries where one tribe rules another for so long and then it flips on them).    In South Africa this almost happened against the whites after the blacks gained control of the country and only by the grace of God through the work of Nelson Mandela did it get diffused.

    I am glad to see people of reason from the other side standing up for people of conscience and telling their people to "knock it off!" in attacking these people in the court of law and also the court of public opinion.     We need more of these people to come forward and I hope and pray they do.   I believe they recognize the value of a conscience and how it is one of our most basic rights as human beings to be nurtured and protected.  After all, a society of citizens whose consciences have been numbed will be a terrible place to live.