You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category.
There is a non-trivial subset of the population that experiences a temporary loss of peace and sanity (if only at a low level) if they have to eat food on a styrofoam plate. I recommend other materials for serving food to your guests.
If you are talking to someone, take off your sunglasses. Your eyes are valuable to the conversation.
I found this under the heading “Main Things” – in a document I wrote, dated 11/24/1998
Always do either what you should do or what you like doing. If possible, do things that are both, but never do things that are neither. . i.e. don’t do something you don’t enjoy just to avoid doing what you should do.
Whenever I compliment someone, and they say, “I’ll take that as a compliment”, it makes me nervous.
One of the sons of my former pastor wrote a book about what it’s like to be a pastor’s kid. It’s a good book. Here’s my review.
Let’s first get the negatives out of the way –
1. It’s a bit repetitive. I would have liked to have had a chance to edit this book.
2. It’s not clear how representative this book is. Barnabas says right up front that research and statistics is not his forte and that he wouldn’t be providing numerical data. This is too bad, because I’d really be interested to know how universal these issues are with PKs.
Not too harsh, I trust?
Here are some positives:
1. It’s illustrative.
If you’ve ever wanted a good description, filled with anecdotes, of what it’s like to be a Pastor’s kid, here you have it. This is a book who’s existence makes the world better, for that reason alone.
2. It’s not all negative.
A major aspect of this book is “These are the hard things that PKs have to deal with”. And they are hard. But I was grateful for the last chapter, in which Barnabas lists for us some of the upsides of being a PK. It was refreshing.
And being a Bethlehem Baptist Church member, I was happy to see the word “Forward by John Piper” on the cover. Because I assumed (correctly) that this meant that this wasn’t going to be an angry book of harsh stories. About the worst thing he has to say about Pastor John is that he always drives the speed limit.
3. It’s a book I would recommend to many people for different reasons.
- For all people in churches who are going to be ministering to (or otherwise dealing with) pastor’s kids (for example, Sunday school teachers and youth leaders and other kid’s parents) – I encourage them to get this book for chapters two and three which lists out the unrealistic expectations that many have for pastor’s kids.
- For all pastor’s kids, I would recommend that they read … well all of it – but chapter four “Identity Crisis” is especially helpful, challenging and perhaps hard to read, but is ultimately uplifting.
- For all pastors, I would recommend they read chapters six and seven which explains how their kids need them – with ideas like “Laugh, play, be affectionate”, and “have hobbies”.
- For all dads who are trying to parent in a strong Christian environment, I recommend chapter five and six. Many of the ideas apply to all dads (and all parents). One of the ideas I found most intriguing is that we should apologize to our children with specific sins (i.e. don’t just admit, “I’m a sinful dad”). It’s good stuff.
- For all church going people, the book provides many thoughts on what we should and should not expect of pastors and (directly and indirectly) their kids.
4. It delves into the Gospel.
Barnabas asks the question – what does a PK need? His answer is Grace.
“It is the grace of God that allows anyone to make headway in the struggles to overcome sin. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit that enables followers of Jesus to make good decisions in the face of temptations, and the spirit lives in anyone who acknowledge Jesus as their Savior, as the one and only means to get right with God. The ultimate grace was the sacrifice of the perfect, sinless Jesus for the sake of all humanity to give up His heavenly glory, live a human life and agonizingly die on the grotesque cross so that we would not have to face eternal punishment of dishonoring the perfect God.”
Barnabas Piper says that a PK needs grace from his parents, his need grace from the church, he needs to show grace towards his family and his church and he ultimately and most importantly needs the eternal grace that only God can give him.
This rings true. For each PK and for all of us.
… Or more accurately – Here are five motivations that are less than optimal if they are your primary reason for reading God’s Word.
1. Looking for ways that you are better than others.
The Apostle Paul has several lists of bad behaviors in his epistles. Any human can look at those lists and say, “Well, I don’t do that, or that, or that” and “But I know my neighbor Bill does that, and that and that”. If the outcome of this reading is, “Wow, I’m pretty good. No need to change!” then you’re not reading it as the Holy Spirit wants you to. And I’m pretty sure Paul would not be pleased either.
2. Looking for ammunition for your theological debate.
Theological correctness is important. Using God’s word to define and clarify your theology is important. But if you are continually using your time in the Word to look for proof that you are right, you are not being God focused, you’re being people-focused (the people, in this case, being your theological enemy).
3. Thinking reading the Bible will save you.
“Well, I read my chapter for the day. That’s what good Christians do. This means I’m acceptable in God’s eyes. Now on to real life.”
4. Looking for errors.
This has already been done. And if you consider the errors one by one, with an unhateful eye, you’ll see that these errors are based on and sourced by biases, fears and personal predilections. And a strong hope that the God of the Bible doesn’t exist. I suggest you consider the idea that the Bible is true and ask yourself, what is the real reason you want the Bible to be negligible? And, what would you have to do if the Bible is really God’s word?
5. Trying to impress people.
“Well, I read my chapter for the day. If I keep it up for another three weeks, I can casually mention this in my small group, or to my Pastor, or on my blog.
Again, No. Generally speaking, “then they will like me” is a bad reason to do anything. And again, this is people-focused.
Now, make no mistake, reading the Bible for bad reasons is better than not reading it all. Here’s a rule of mine: “If it’s a good activity, don’t stop doing it because you’re afraid you’re doing it for wrong reasons.”*
So, please don’t stop reading the Bible every day (if you aren’t reading it every day, then you should start) because of your less-than-perfect motivations. A great deal of good has happened as a result of people reading the Bible for bad reasons.
But do, with the help of the Holy Spirit and through prayer, start reading the Bible for better reasons.
And what are the better reasons?
This fall, for the ninth time, I’ll be leading a Wednesday night class of kindergarteners and first graders, and it uses a curriculum that teaches kids about the Bible. The description of this curriculum begins this way: “God, who is the most valuable Being in all the universe, reveals Himself with clarity and authority through His Word.”
And one of the first lessons is this – the Most Important Person in each story in the Bible is God.
So do read the Bible to learn about -
2. His Gospel,
3. His will for you, and
5. What He says are the important eternal realities of the universe.
And while you shouldn’t read God’s word to attain salvation, you should read it because it’s His will for you to do so. It pleases God when you do His will.
And pleasing God is always a good motivation.
Nicholas Kristof Op Ed Columnist for the New York Times, recently wrote this for his column: She Gets No Respect: Sexism Persists, Even Among the Enlightened
Researchers find that female-named hurricanes kill about twice as many people as similar male-named hurricanes because some people underestimate them. Americans expect male hurricanes to be violent and deadly, but they mistake female hurricanes as dainty or wimpish and don’t take adequate precautions.
He continues -
Likewise, research subjects were more willing to evacuate to avoid Hurricane Victor than when it was Hurricane Victoria. The more masculine the name, the more respect the hurricane drew. The researchers estimated that changing the name of a hurricane from Charley to Eloise could nearly triple the death toll.
Women were as likely as men to disrespect female hurricanes.
He concludes -
This deep bias is as elusive as it is pernicious, but a start is to confront and discuss it. Perhaps hurricanes, by catching us out, can help us face our own chauvinism.
1. I wouldn’t be surprised if in a month the press tells us, “That study was bogus! There’s no real difference in response to hurricane names. The statistics were twisted.” But the columnist is writing as if this is all true, so, just to make it clear -
2. If I ever say to you, “I think you’re less likely to kill me than that other guy,” I’m not disrespecting you.
3. It seems like the people who die from a hurricane because of the hurricane’s name should be considered for the Darwin Award.
“Okay, it’s getting a little windy, Lyle, should we head inside?”
“Well dang, Cliff, her name is Cindy! Isn’t that the youngest Brady girl? How bad could she be?”
4. So Americans harbor an inner and unconscious belief that women are less destructive and less dangerous. I just checked – 90% of murderers in the US are male. If this is bias, is it a false bias? Is it chauvinism if it’s based on fact?
5. Obviously the solution here is to create a nationwide campaign to encourage women to be more violent and murderous, so that people will start respecting female hurricanes.
6. Obviously the solution is NOT to encourage men to be less violent and murderous, because then people would stop protecting themselves from male hurricanes. And that would be disrespectful.
I’ll admit, I sometimes listen to National Public Radio. I’ve considered it to be a good source for news and current events. Recently though, church friends have challenged this practice as unwise – citing NPR’s leftward slant. I’ve withstood this challenge, suggesting that I’d like to think that the slant isn’t that substantial.
I’ll further confess this: Last Sunday morning, after I dropped off two of my sons at church for an early worship rehearsal, and as I was heading back to get the rest of my family, I dialed up NPR. Just, you know, to see what was happening in the world.
The story that started up, even as I was leaving the church parking lot, was this interesting piece from their “Sunday Conversation” series – “A Christian Climate Scientist’s Mission To Convert Nonbelievers.”
It was an interview with an atmospheric scientist who’s “also a devout Christian”. She’s “spent the last few years trying to convince other Christians that climate change is real.”
She described two anti-climate change arguments she’s heard from Christians-
One of the biggest issues I often get asked is if God is in control, how could this happen? Or to put it another way, doesn’t the idea that humans could change climate threaten the idea of the sovereignty of God? And the answer to that is actually pretty simple. It’s free will. God gave us the brains to make good choices, and there’s consequences to the choices that we make. And that’s what climate change is. It’s a consequence to the fact that we have an industrialized society that depends on coal and oil and gas for many of our resources.
And another argument that you hear a lot in Christian circles is, well, if the world is going to end anyways, why bother? In fact, won’t this just hasten the end of the world? And in that case, we can actually look directly to the book of Thessalonians where Paul wrote to people very strongly. And the apostle said, don’t just quit your job and lay around waiting for Christ to return. Go get a job, work, support your family and care for the poor. That’s what we’re intended to do, not just sit around and say, ah, it’s going to end anyways.
Comments to NPR:
So, is it your goal to be seen as having a liberal slant? Because this is the kind of piece that will do it. And it’s not primarily the story – it’s what’s in the subtext of the story.
Unspoken, but clearly conveyed were these ideas –
1. Generally speaking, devout Christians don’t believe in climate change (or if you’d like – A good percentage of climate-change-deniers are devout Christians). Katherine is shown here as an exception, fighting against the rule.
2. Those who don’t believe in climate change* are wrong.
And the ingenious attribute of subtext is that, since the underlying ideas are inherently understood to be true, the story writers don’t feel the need to give evidence to show they are true. The truth of the subtext is assumed.
But thoughtful people on either side of the issue can see through what you’re doing. And many non-Christians would disagree with both of these premises.
I might add another telling subtext of the story:
3. Conservative devout Christians merely lack understanding of the real issues and should be ‘converted”, “convinced”, and told that “each of us already has the values in our hearts that we need to care about this issue”
That seems just a little condescending.
In any case, this story (at the very least) could accurately be used as evidence of a left leaning slant in NPR programming.
Comments to Climate Change Advocates:
I’ve seen arguments from Christians (and non Christians) who don’t believe in climate change and they don’t use religious reasons as their defense. They are skeptical for logical, scientific and political reasons and they use logical, scientific and political debate methods to refute the ideas behind climate change.
You should deal with those issues. That’s the more honest approach. Strawmen don’t become you.
But I would commend Mrs. Hayhoe’s method here. It’s apparent that her approach is non-vitriolic and non-combative. And she’s trying to find common ground with those she’s debating. This is wise.
Comments to Christians:
I think one of the lessons from this NPR story is this – while debating political issues, especially when dealing with non-Christians (but even sometimes when dealing with Christians), be very hesitant to use arguments based on religion. Because if you use poor logic based on your understanding of God, or if it can be made to look foolish, it sure can be used against you.
In this story, the only two arguments the interviewee refuted were the above religious examples she cited in the beginning.
1. My God wouldn’t let climate change happen.
2. If it’s God’s will to end the world this way, nothing we can do can stop him.
I find myself wondering if these were the two least thoughtful comments she’s received in the years she’s made these presentations, and perhaps that’s why she’s using them on national radio. Because they are both very easy to dispatch**, and she does a pretty good job of it, too (even citing Thessalonians in her rebuttal – impressive, but I think she’s misrepresenting Paul’s words here).
If you’re arguing with a theologian, it’s wise to use theological reasoning. But if you’re arguing with a scientist, be more hesitant to use a God-based argument. And if you do, make good and sure it’s biblically thought out – not based on your general ideas of what God is like.
And everyone should take a cue from this devout Christian/environmental scientist. Finding common ground with those you are debating is always a good first step.
* I had ‘global warming’ here, but I just noticed that they don’t have ‘global warming’ anywhere in the story, so I changed all of my references to it to ‘climate change’
** I sure hope these arguments weren’t from the same Christian, because as anyone can see who thinks about them for more than a half minute, they are contradictory to each other.
[Bethel Choir People, please let me know if I got any of the details wrong]
In 1989, June 4th was a Sunday. So I went to church, along with the entire Bethel Choir. We were on Europe tour and June 4th was our last day in Moscow – in what was then the USSR.
While we had been in Moscow, we had been on outings to the Moscow Circus, the Kremlin and more than a few other places. On all of these other trips, our Russian tour guide, Nicholas, had gotten us two buses. For our trip to the church, we were only provided one. We were pretty sure that they didn’t want us to go a church and maybe they felt that having only one bus would deter our whole choir from going. But we all crammed on that one small bus. No big deal.
At the church, they greeted us warmly. They let us sing. They said we sounded like angels.
This is what I put in my journal: “We sang them four songs, including the spiritual [Not sure what this was. “Go tell it”?] to a full house of happy Christians. We sang with them “Crown Him [with many crowns]” and afterwards they hugged and kissed us. Nicholas then showed us quickly back on the bus.”
We were staying at the Hotel Ukraine. While in the rooms there, my friend Ace would say things like, “The black cat wants his crayons back.” You know, just in case the KGB was listening.
After lunch, Ace wanted to go on a tourist hunt for a Russian T-shirt. So the two of us walked towards the center of the city. And we walked and walked. We had no luck.
We walked all the way to the Kremlin (which if I have it correct on Google Maps is more than two miles).
If I knew then what I know now (after our trip to adopt our daughter Anna), we could have avoided the wandering and just headed to Arbat street. But I didn’t.
I noted in my journal that I spent a dollar to buy a Pepsi at the Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors.
In any case, by now we had been out for hours and Ace didn’t want to walk back. So we started looking for a Taxi. We found ourselves at the front door of a large hotel, and there were several taxi drivers. We asked one of them how much it would cost to get a ride back to our hotel. He told us twenty rubles, which at the rate we were supposed to use, would have been about forty dollars. This wasn’t acceptable to Ace, who then countered, “No, no. How about five American dollars,” holding up his hand to stress the number five. The taxi driver was very quick to take his offer.
Ace graciously paid for the ride and on the way he asked the driver if he knew where we could get any t-shirts. He responded, “Hotel Ukraeena?” Apparently he spoke very little English.
We made it back to the hotel and the rest of the choir. My journal states that after supper some of us threw paper airplanes out the window. Really?
And then we got on two buses and were driven to the train station, where we rode overnight to Ukraine. Apparently I talked with Kris B. and Tonia R. and we recited Frost poetry: “And that has made all the difference!”*
I also talked with Debbie, the girl to whom it would take more than five more years to marry.
All of that happened on one day – June 4th, 1989.
That Russian house of worship was the furthest church (from my home in Minnesota) that I’ve ever attended. A few days earlier, in St. Petersburg (sorry, Leningrad) the Russian host at our more secular concert stated to the audience, “It’s not the words that they sing that is important; it’s that they sing them so well.”
But in that gathering of Christians in Moscow, it was encouraging and a blessing to be with a group of people who were more like-minded. And when we were singing “Crown Him” together, it certainly didn’t matter that we were worshiping Jesus in two different languages.
* Trivia- Which poem is this?
If you want to read another 25 years ago Bethel Choir related story, here you go.
Disclaimer 1: For those of you with no interest in Vox – please feel free to skip.
Disclaimer 2: I have found that my memories of the distant past are often lacking in their accuracy.
Disclaimer 3: If you go to Vox’s website, beware … blah blah blah … racist and misogynistic … blah blah blah … hateful and coarse… blah blah blah … disagree with much that is over there. You’ve been warned.
Okay, now we can begin:
Vox Day And Me – Adult Years
I actually only saw Vox in person two more times.
The first time was at someone else’s high school graduation open house. Maybe this was after our freshman year of college. We talked for a few seconds. He did that grab-just-your-fingers thing when we shook hands. I don’t know if this was purposeful or not.
The last time I saw Vox in living color, I didn’t actually talk to him.
I was in line at a grocery store and he came in and headed around the checkout lanes and headed toward the bakery. When I say ‘in living color’ I mean this literally. His hair was multi-hued. This is really the primary way I recognized him, because I had recently seen an article about him and his video game company in the Star Tribune. It had reported that he was living in Mounds View, very close to our home.
This was, say, 1995-1996. He had a lady with him. Perhaps it was Space Bunny. I can’t say. I regret not saying something to him.
And then five years later I was talking with his brother at another high school graduation open house and found out that he had slightly changed his name and had written a fantasy book.
So I went out and bought it. And read it and liked it. So I found his site on the web and emailed him. He later told me that comments I made encouraged him to make changes in a character of his third Angel book.
I started reading his posts at World Net Daily around the time of 9/11 when he started writing more politically. And I’ve been reading his blog since very nearly the beginning.
And then one day I commented on his blog, snarkily disagreeing with him about public schools. Despite this fact (and the fact that he didn’t know it was me commenting), he didn’t flame me. I laughed when I looked at the title of his next post responding directly to me, and then emailed him to let him know it was me.
I continue to comment (at times snarkily) over at his blog. I give him credit for giving me the first big boost to my blog. And a few other times since.
And the rest is publicly available and searchable history. Okay, much of the rest of it is (see, for example). Most recently he responded to one of my comments with kind of Bizzaro ad hominem that was along the lines of “Jamsco, you’re a nice guy, so your point is disregardable.”*
A few more memories (going back to younger days):
- I remember making lego space ships with Vox in his living room – maybe sixth grade. He taught me about realistic space weaponry.
- I remember having breakfast at his home (just before heading out for a scout camping trip – perhaps seventh grade) in which the main course (if I remember correctly) was hamburger. It was quite good.
- I remember a Sunday when our family was invited by his parents to his home to watch a football game. It was on this day and from Vox that I learned about the first down. Up until that point I thought that that the offense got only four tries to get a touchdown. This was perhaps when we were in fifth or sixth grade so I was late in learning this. It was also here that I learned that some football fans, notably Vox, have a secondary favorite team. I think Vox’s second team was Dallas. I later (and somewhat temporarily) chose the Lions, largely based on a single really impressive touchdown run. My brother has repeatedly made fun of me for this.
Also going back a bit – here’s a picture dated July 1979 – from a boy scout canoeing trip (one of our first – this puts us just after our fifth grade) on the Namekagen River.
I’m pretty sure that’s Vox in the blue jacket being roughhoused by other scouts (my apologies for the lack of a clear view of his face). Obviously this was before his training or those three boys would be on the ground writhing in agony. Because finish everything.
In conclusion, I wish that Vox was less harsh on figures of authority, much less harsh on women and other races, swore less, talked more about his love of God and wrote more fiction. I wish he was a little less “Do unto others as they’ve done to you, only worse.” And I’d still like to hear his Becoming-A-Christian story.
But I think it would be fair to say I’m at least a little more libertarian because of his blog. And I appreciate what he says about Atheism, Tolkien, Lewis, the Vikings, home-schooling, his wife, and Jesus.
* Okay, more accurately, it was “You try to look like you’re a nice guy, so your point is disregardable” but I thought the original version was funnier and this more accurate version still doesn’t follow.
Update: I was going through old (some might say very old) papers today and the top page on the first stack I opened up was the Star Tribune article I mentioned above. So here’s the photo:
1. The dark line down the middle is the crease where it was folded. I haven’t kept it framed.
2. The dog at the bottom is the “good dog”. In the article, they call him the company mascot.
3. His hair isn’t colored in the picture, so I guess I recognized him by the mohawk.
4. The article is from Oct 1995, so 16 years after the first picture, and nearly 19 years ago.
There are people who complain about other people in this way:
1. Some subset of people who disagree with my worldview think Idea A
2. Some subset of people who disagree with my worldview think Idea B
3. Idea A and Idea B are obviously incompatible.
4. All people who disagree with my worldview are ridiculous.
Just to make it clear – this doesn’t follow.
Over on my Dad blog, I posted a set of signs that your child is not saved.
This morning, Challies linked to it. 3500 hits before 10AM. Yikes.
But astute reader Brian commented, “But don’t stop with your kids. What about YOU, or your spouse? Ask yourself the same questions”.
True enough. And everyone you know.
A month ago I saw a map (HT: TwentyTwoWords) that showed how many counties away each county in the US was away from the ocean.
I thought it was an interesting look at US geography, but I wanted to see it from a less ocean-centric viewpoint. So I created two new views.
So here is map of how many counties away each county is from Lake Superior
And here’s a map of how many counties away each county is from a Great Lake
In either case, I feel bad for the sad people way down in Monroe County, Florida – a full 52 or 37 counties away!
Notable -On the Superior Map, the west coast is much closer than the east coast (23 compared to 29 counties)
Uses Roadwise Contiguousness (i.e. can you drive or walk there from here?)
I’ve been meaning to write about this for some time, but I’ve neglected to because I’ve haven’t known how to approach it. I’m hesitant to say anything bad about Pelé, because he seems to have a good amount of humility and a God-fearing spirit. So I’ll be as positive as possible.
Last August, on a blog called the talks which posts interviews with interesting famous people, they presented an interview with Pelé. This name is generally known by all who are (1) Non-American or (2) Interested in Sports, but if you don’t fall into either of those camps, I can tell you that Pelé is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, considered by many to be the best football (soccer) player who ever lived.
As he starts the interview, Pelé takes it, surprisingly and interestingly, in the direction of the role of God in human success.
Pelé, when you are the best at something how hard is it not to get arrogant about it?
I used to tease the other kids because I played better than them. Then my father said, “Come here. Don’t do this with the kids, because God gave you the gift to play football. You didn’t do anything. This was a present from God. You have to respect people, because it is important to be a good man, a good person. From now on, you must be this example.”
I find this to be a helpful answer. Your skill at playing is a gift from God, so you shouldn’t be proud of your success. You should mindful of this when you consider other people who don’t have this success.
But this answer wasn’t completely satisfying to the interviewer, who must have a fairly secular mindset. So he challenges Pelé on it.
I am not sure if it was only God who gave you that gift. Being at the top of the game must be hard work as well.
Of course the work is very, very important. That is exactly what my father meant: God gave you the gift to play football, but this is a present. You must respect people and work hard to be in shape. And I used to train very hard. When the others players went to the beach after training, I was there kicking the ball. Another thing I say is, if I am a good player, if I have a gift from God but I don’t have the physical condition to run on the field what am I going to do?
I think this was a fairly polite way to respond to either (a) the possibility that the interviewer is an atheist and feels sharing credit with God is silly, or (b) the interviewer’s lack of understanding of what it means to receive a gift well. Pelé is saying that the best and most honorable way to receive a gift is to use it well. Again, this is helpful and wise.
But then the interviewer dove deeper.
Did you ever feel like your abilities were super-human?
No, we are all human beings. I have to trust something that gives me power…
Very good so far, but Pelé continues.
… I have to believe in something, but in my career I have a lot of moments I cannot explain with God. We went to Africa and we stopped the war in Africa because the people went to see Pelé play. They stopped the war. Just God can’t explain that. I don’t know why – it is impossible to know why – but they stopped the war. When we finished the game and we left they continue to fight.
I’d like to think that the post mis-transcribed these words. I’ve actually asked them to post the full audio for the interview (no luck as of yet). Because if he really meant this, I have difficulty getting my head around it. It sounds like he thinks it took something more powerful than God to bring this about. Does he think that God is unable to stop a war? Or that God would not do such a thing?
No. God could, if he chose to, change the hearts of thousands of people in such a way that they would stop warring. He might even use a soccer game to do it.
I wish I could have a more satisfying end for this post. But for my money, I think Pelé didn’t really say (or at least mean) that it would take more than God to do this.
What do you think?
Update: I just added another post about Pelé over at my Dad Blog. It’s largely the same content but from a parent’s perspective.
It is a frightening thing to hear these words:
This is your daughter. You must take care of her for decades, and even when she can take care of herself, you must protect her until the day you die.
I recommend it.
Here some other works that it would be absurd to ask your higher being to accomplish:
• That a greater number of lesser beings in his universe will think better of him
• That he will change the course of our human world so that his sovereignty would be stronger.
• That he will change the course of the universe so that the things he wants to have happen will happen more.
• That he will affect your household status so that you would have something to eat today.
• That he will alter his opinion about a set of your own evil deeds as a result of some penitent feelings you have.
• That he will change the universe so that your life experiences will be less likely to make you want to do evil.
Or rather, again, it would be absurd to ask them, if it weren’t true that all of these requests are recommended (some might say commanded) by the Son of the Perfect Being, as a collection of beneficial petitions, otherwise known as the Lord’s Prayer.
I’m glad you’re here. Please take a look around.
Did I mention I’m on twitter?
If you’re a dad, you might be interested in my “Dads and Anger” series of Posts over at my dad blog. My hope is that these posts will help Christian dads avoid sinfully acting in anger against their kids.
And my main statement is that all anger acted out against your kids is sinful.
Also, I’d appreciate it if you took a look at our Fighter Verse Song Ministry.
Here’s a sample video. It’s bluegrass!
I say it again, prayer is ridiculous.
What is prayer? Prayer – especially the supplication kind, requires the belief that
(1) You, a finite, short-lived, self-focused, fallible, mortal being with little knowledge,
(2) by uttering (or even just thinking!) some request out into the expanse of the universe
(3) somehow might be heard and comprehended
(4) by a more-knowing, less-imperfect and more-powerful Being (to whom you are directing the request), and that this
(5) may cause the Being to take some action that will
(6) cause change in the course of some part of the universe that you care about,
(7) in a direction that you think would be better than if this change didn’t happen.
• Often your prayer’s targeted section of existence is not at all within your sphere of influence.
• Often your utterances are made in complete or nearly-complete ignorance.
• The more powerful the being, the more presumptuous your utterance is.
So if, for example, you expect your prayer to work with a completely self-completing Being, who, by the way, created you, and who knows the beginning from the end, how insane it is for you to assume that this Being will not only (1) choose to be aware that you exist and are thinking these thoughts, but (2) to listen to them and (3) (most plainly ridiculous) make changes to His universe because of your utterances.
I note that your prayers sometimes include expectations that this Being might work towards such audacious petitions as -
• removing or modifying enough destructive cells in the body of someone of whom you are aware and care about so that it might function better
• directing a sufficient number of atoms so that weather patterns will fit in with and/or enhance your future goals.
• altering the electrical patterns in your own brain so that it will rightly choose the most optimal course of action in a specific situation
• changing the nature of a dead human soul which is currently in direct opposition to this perfect Being, so that this soul will become alive and then praise his creator.
You actually think it possible that He will work out these things, just because you a tiny collection of molecules on a tiny planet in his vast universe, ask for it. Tell me, what are you thinking? It’s insanity. It’s vanity. It’s … ridiculous.
What’s that? You say this Being (and his Son) have repeatedly communicated to you that he will listen and answer your prayers? You say he actually commands you to pray to him and ask him for things? That he wants to answer your prayers?
Oh. Well . . . carry on then.
Update: Here are some more “audacious petitions” – from a reliable source.
Maybe it was something like this: There are some kinds of ignorance and some kinds of delusion which yield a more productive and happy life than would otherwise be.
I explained that I don’t think it’s a call to Anger, but it’s a warning that the emotion of Anger often is a lead in to sin. It’s not necessarily sinful to be angry, but what it often tempts you to do is sinful.
So I was thinking that this phrasing could be used for other tricky emotional states, as well.
For example – the Bible could have included passages like these:
– Note that you would like to have a big house like the Smiths, and do not sin.
– Become aware of the pretty lady’s prettiness, and do not sin.
– Wish you could tell something other than the truth in this uncomfortable situation, and do not sin.
– Accept that you are interested in taking that CD without paying for it and do not sin.
– Feel the attraction of getting people to be impressed with you and do not sin.
– See the benefits that more money would afford you and do not sin.
– Think “Wow, I’d sure like to tell this person this unwholesome bit of knowledge about this other person” and do not sin.
Perhaps you can think of others. And please note the connection of the elements in this list – in all of the cases the initial emotion is not a sinful one, but it does come laden with pitfalls.
How good it would be for all of us to be immediately aware that we’re in a situation where sin is likely and immediately say – “I’m not going to give in – I’m going to handle this the way God wants me to.”