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So God would never cause a person to sin and then hold him responsible for it, would he? That would be really unfair. God’s not like that!

But what about the first chapters of Exodus where multiple times it says that God hardened Pharoah’s heart.

But the answer comes back to me “Well, maybe we shouldn’t call it sin, because God forced him to do it.”

I answer in two ways: Firstly, God clearly punishes him and the whole nation of Egypt as a result of his actions. So it looks like God is holding him responsible.

 

But secondly, and more clearly, in Exodus 9:

Vs 12 God Harden’s Pharaoh’s Heart – he refuses to let them go.

Vs 23 – God send Hail – to show that there is none like Him

Vs 27 – Pharaoh admits his own ‘sin’

Vs 29 – God says he will stop the hail

Vs 34 – Pharaoh ‘sinned again’: He hardened his heart.

 

So if he sinned ‘again’ then he was sinning the other times, when it says that God hardened his heart. So hardening his heart was sin. And God caused it.

 

Clear enough?

For what it tries to do, “The Princess Bride” is one of the more perfect movies ever made.

A Fictional Story by Jamsco

(Written quite a long time ago)

A paradigm change for the better in my fathering technique has come about in the past few weeks. As I look back, it is the result of one pivotal moment of child discipline that took place with my oldest son three months ago. I remember it clearly.

I was watching my children (ages three to seven) playing in our backyard and they were having fun. But at one point, my oldest son, Richard, was angry because our other son, Tommy was not sharing a favorite toy with him. Richard happened to be holding a plastic bat and he gave Tommy a fairly sharp hit on the back with it. Tommy was not injured, but he started crying. As my wife consoled Tommy, I took Richard inside and began to give him a spanking. As I was doing so, I said “Richard, you should never hit other people.” It was then that I realized what I was doing. I was doing to him exactly what I was telling him not to do! As my hypocrisy became clear to me, I realized that it didn’t matter that he was using a bat out of anger and that I was using my hand only to discipline. The differences were inconsequential. I apologized to him and resolved to never spank my children again.

I thought my hypocritical fathering days were behind me. I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

Thing went well for the next few weeks as we replaced spankings with timeouts as our chosen method of discipline. Timeouts were virtually as good a tool as spanking and the children were almost as well behaved as they had been. Admittedly, the fear of being alone for a few minutes was not as motivational as the fear of pain, and while in there, the child spent his time angry and brooding, but I felt at peace with my conscious, until another moment of truth changed this.

One evening I heard some yelling coming from the entryway of our home, and as I rounded the corner, I saw that Tommy (who is almost as big as Richard) had shut Richard in the coat closet. I could hear Richard yelling from inside to let him out. He was obviously upset.

I let him out and made sure he was okay and then brought Tommy up to his room. I told him that he needed to lay on his bed for ten minutes and think about what he had done. And then I . . . I left him there. He was not in there five minutes before I heard him yelling that he wanted to get out. He sounded as upset as Richard had been just a few minutes earlier.

I realized that I was doing it again. In forcing Tommy to be by himself in a small space for a longer time than he wanted to be, I was doing to Tommy practically the same thing that I was telling him not to do to Richard. And it might be nearly as damaging to him as being trapped in a small closet. Again I resolved to change. We decided that we would use words and conversations as our method of discipline.

Again, the children were soon not as well behaved as before since now they had no real motivation to obey at all (besides the knowledge of our disapproval), but again I was at least practicing what I preached.

Or so I thought.

One day I was outside working in the garage and I heard our youngest daughter, Susie saying some very unkind things in anger to a neighbor friend of hers (You might see where this is going.) After apologizing for her to her friend, I took her inside and began to chastise her for the negative things she had said to her friend. But I realized that in doing so, I was verbalizing bad things about her and her behavior. I could see that in doing so, I was causing her to be ashamed of herself. I feared that in my actions might be damaging her self-esteem. I realized that again I was doing what I was telling my child not to and resolved from then on only to point out the positive things that the children did.

Since then, other things have come to mind. I was cutting some roast beef two weeks ago and Susie asked if she could try it. I was about to tell her that it was too dangerous for her to do so, but again realized that I wasn’t letting her do something that I was doing right in front of her. We gave the knives to friends of ours with older children.

And on the way home from a soccer game last week, Tommy asked if he could drive . . .

So now our children are extremely poorly behaved to the extent that no one wants to be around our family, we have to have all of our food sent to us (it turns out that many factors of cooking are too dangerous for young children), we have to bike everywhere we go, and I live in fear of noticing other things that I don’t let our children do, but at least I am not a hypocritical father. My conscious is clear.

<In case, the subtle point that I tried to make in this story is not clear enough, let me put it simply:

A kid angrily hitting another is to spanking, as a kid trapping another in a closet is to time-outs

Or (even more simply)

There is no hypocrisy in spanking a child as punishment for hitting another.

Also, see Rule Number 1 here. >

Jamsco’s Response to

‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’ by Robert Frost

 

Nature’s first green is gold,
  Her hardest hue to hold,
Her early leaves a flower,
  But only so an hour,
Then leaf sudsides to leaf,
  SoEden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day,
  Nothing gold can stay.

 

That’s a little depressing isn’t it? I’m of a more cheery mind:

 

But there is other gold,
  That you can later hold,
Another flower awaits,
  And more on other dates,
You cannot make it stay,
  Yet cling to it today,
From Gold to new gold dance,
  Keep Eden’s permanence.

 

And I would have liked to put in the more important idea that in Heaven all Gold will stay, but it didn’t fit in the form.

Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learn from Ephesians

(Application Part – 4:17 – 6:24)

Compiled by Jamsco

You must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds ··· Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires.  ··· Be renewed in the spirit of your minds ··· Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. ··· Let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor ··· Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger ··· Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands ··· Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up ··· Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. ··· Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you ··· Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children ··· Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God ··· Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving ··· Let no one deceive you with empty words··· One time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord  ··· Walk as children of light ··· Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them ··· Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. ···Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery ··· Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. ··· Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. ···  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her ··· Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh ··· Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right ···  Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord ··· Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ ··· Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him ··· Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication ··· Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

My wife and I have been married almost 12 and a half years. During all that time, we have never owned a single pet, not even a goldfish.

This, despite somewhat strong pleas from my wife and children (stronger from my children) that we get one. I have held out. Our home is busy enough. I don’t want to do clean up. What about when we go on vacation?

But last Thursday I was out jogging and saw a sign – ‘Free Kittens.’  And on Friday I mentioned this to my wife while we were driving by and she went in to ask. Two months old, already using the litter box, cute.

So on Saturday we went to Petsmart and got food and toys and such and went to pick up not one, but two kittens. I still am not sure why I gave in, by I think I’m glad I did. They bring joy into our home.

What I have found interesting is the grim words that people have had when I have mentioned this to them.

I remember Jay Leno, very early in his carreer talking about how mentioning that he owned a motorcycle often inexplicably elicited from people stories about the dangers of owning one:

My cousin had a motorcycle once. Drove it straight into a Threshing Machine!

My wife has more than once said that this is why she has never skied. Because any conversation about skiing always yeilds to conversation about skiing injuries. Bone breaking, blood inducing, death causing injuries.

But getting a kitten or two?

– Sure their cute and cuddly now, but when they get older they get cranky and start punishing you.

– You’re keeping kittens in your laundry room, with all those clean clothes?

– I knew a couple who once broke up because they were always arguing about who was going to clean the box.

(Okay that last one is an exageration of what someone said)

You might ask, why kittens and not a dog. I have always been partial to Cats. Here is my list why:

The clean up is better.

Cats are smarter.

Cats don’t bark.

I feel like love from a dog (while more plentiful than a cats) is less real, more instinctive than that of a cat’s. This is one area where I go for quality more than quantity.

Is there truth to any of these?

A bird in the hand is insignificant next to the two in the bush.
A chain is stronger than its weakest link.
A man who lives in a glass house should throw stones
Don’t look before you leap.
A stitch in time saves none.
A fool and his money rarely part.
(stolen from a movie) A rose by any other name would wither and die.
He who hesitates is found.
Invention is the mother of Necessity.
It is not better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.
Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly (borrowed from a former pastor)
There is not a first time for everything.
A watched pot sometimes boils.

Are there any you’d like to add?

. . . I’m glad we didn’t go with our initial choice for what to name our daughter.

Almost two years ago (June of 2005) we were in Russia in the process of adopting a cute, short-haired, cheerful, three and a half year old girl who had been named Anna by her Mom and then left (for reasons we don’t know) at the Hospital. We liked her name and thought it was pretty, and one that would not be out of place in America. So we decided to keep Anna as her first name.

So then we were trying to figure out what her middle name should be. We thought it might be nice to try to keep her heritage a little more than just her first name. Her Mom’s name was a very Russian looking four syllable name that began with Nikol, so for a while we were considering making her middle name Nicole.  We both like that name.

But that would have made her Anna Nicole.

While we were discussing her name, I thought I had a memory of a less than exemplary semi-famous person with that name. Other Americans adopting with us confirmed this. So we went with Joy for her middle name and, as you might guess, we are glad we did. Because these days I would be cringing daily as I read the newspaper (front page, editorial page, comics) and listened to the radio and watched TV.

But now I am wondering. My thought is that in five years (or three years or a year and a half,) all of this sad turmoil may have been forgotten and we would no longer be experiencing shame for having been foolish enough to name her that. And then we would have been able to retain a little more of her heritage.

But, in any case, Anna Joy is a sweet name, don’t you think? 

  

In Which Jamsco Finally Brings the Argument 

For those of you who aren’t here as linked from Vox Day , you may wonder why I have his blog linked off to the side there. If you have clicked there (as I see that more than a few of you have) you may have been offended by some of the more, shall we say, coarse entries that you have found there. But one of the reasons I created this blog was to, over time, attempt to deal with the criticism that he and others have made of people who believe that God controls the world. So here we go.  

In his blog, just under three years ago, Vox Day wrote a blog entry entitled “The Problem of Evil.” (Let me just state that it is possible that he has changed or softened some of the following views in the intervening time, but he has, of late, given me good reason to believe that he still holds to most of them.) In this entry, he gave his answer to the “oft-asked question of why bad things happen to good people” posited to him in this way: 

The Bible is a beautifully written work of fiction. I always wonder where was this caring, all powerful God or Supreme Being when the Nazis were in power? When slavery was taking place? Where was he? 

Vox started out well, saying:I am not a theologian and I am not particularly well-versed in theology. I postulate that human understanding cannot fully comprehend or explain God, and so my conclusions are, at best, barely educated guesses. I do not know the fullness of the truth and neither does any other human being, past or present, with one notable exception. . . . . In other words, argue with me all you like, but there’s no point in getting upset about it – save that for something on which we can have a more substantive debate.  

This humility is wise, as it is certain that no human fully understand the nature of God. He also tends to keep to his word and doesn’t get overly disturbed by someone bringing a criticism to him in a non-offensive manner. And I appreciate his willingness to tackle reasons that people give for unbelief. He does this often, and it is my strong belief that he has done good in this regard. But he continues- 

With that out of the way, let me state that I believe the common Christian notion that God is in complete control of the world, that He has a specific plan for our individual lives, that He guides our every step and orchestrates every incident we encounter is one of the most Satanically damaging concepts ever invented by the forces of darkness. I believe that this notion is logically and Biblically flawed, and has an evil effect on both Christians and nonbelievers alike.  

Strong words. 

My reasoning is as follows: 1. Neither omnipotence nor omniscience imply omniderigence, or to put it more casually, uber control freakdom. If you inquire as to why most Christians believe that God is in control, they will state that He is all-powerful and all-knowing and has made the Heavens and the Earth.  

This is, of course, not all that a competent Calvinist debater will state. In fact, I have not heard these truths given as proofs, but perhaps Vox has. 

They sometimes cite the verse relating to knowledge of sparrows. But knowing when a sparrow falls does not imply striking it dead, nor does the possession of power indicate its use. Nor does making something imply active maintenance – does
Toyota change your oil?

 Vox sounds a little deistic here. My Bible (NIV) says the sparrow won’t fall without the WILL of the father (Matthew 10:29), but perhaps Vox uses a different translation (and the Greek is a little vague in this verse.) It is also true to say that having strength does not imply continually using it. But, again, it is a poor debater who would only bring up the sparrow verse. 

2. Jesus Christ would not have taught us to pray that God’s Will be done here on Earth as it is in Heaven, unless God’s Will was not being done here on Earth. 3. There are numerous instances in the Old Testament where
Israel and others go against God’s Will. Therefore, it is possible for humans to act in opposition to God, without him dictating their actions. Furthermore, the very notion of Lucifer’s Fall indicates strongly that God is not in control of all things.

 Now we get to the crux of the matter. 

If Vox has not heard of the concept of the two (or more, but for the purposes here, we can keep it to two) kinds of Wills of God – His Permissive will and his Perfect will, I can attend to this subject later, or point him to others who have said it better than I could. But for now I will state that there are clear passages in the Bible which state that God has willed (caused, or to put it less strongly, ordained) an occurrence of something that he disapproved of. 

This is very challenging and often not very palatable, but still Biblically provable. 

4. Jesus Christ does not argue with Satan when Satan offers him the nations of the world. Instead, he rejects the offer. The clear implication is that the nations of the world were Satan’s to give. This is supported by Jesus and Paul’s later references to the god of this world being distinct from the God that is the Heavenly Father.  

Agreed (Largely) but I don’t see how this adds to his point. 

5. Jesus Christ says that Satan has no hold on him, presumably because he has not sinned. Therefore, Satan does have a hold on everyone who has sinned, namely, the rest of us on the planet.  

Again, agreed. We are fallen. Satan can tempt us. Satan failed to tempt Jesus. 

6. Jesus Christ’s command to follow his own example of healing the sick and raising the dead indicates that neither sickness or death are God’s Will for individual humans or humanity as a whole.  

At the very least, Vox needs to add here the phrase “in certain situations.” Because it is clear that God causes sickness as punishment in many cases in the Bible. But again, when a person becomes diseased for reasons other than punishment, this is against God’s perfect will, but not his permissive will. 

7. For reasons beyond our ken, God requires humans to act as conduits for acting on this planet. This is why Satan hates Christians so passionately, as they represent the beachhead of divine power which will eventually overthrow his rule of this fallen world.  

Again, agreed. And this has been God’s will from before creation. 

Based on these and other reasons, I have concluded that it is a massive error to blame God for evils such as National Socialism, slavery and the designated hitter.  

Wait now, I thought Vox didn’t care about baseball. But he continues . . 

These are human creations, enthusiastically cheered on by the reigning ruler of the planet, who seeks nothing less than the total destruction of mankind.  . .  Satan is not only evil, but he is a deceiver. And what deception could be more useful than to lead people into believing that all the evil of the world is caused by the only power that can ameliorate their suffering?  

One deception that could be useful to Satan (more so than this Truth) is that God sees bad things happening to people, thinks of them as bad and is powerless or unwilling to stop them. 

In summary, I believe that these evils exist because the world is ruled by a sadistic supernatural serial killer who is vehemently opposed to God. Only those who turn to Jesus Christ have the ability to stand against this terrible usurper and his minions, which is why despite all of the many shortcomings of the Christian church, some of the greatest evils of the world have been brought to an end – temporarily, I suspect – by Christians, including the two examples that you cited. This is why prayer matters, why faith is so massively important, and why Jesus Christ said his sacrifice would set us free.  

Again, I agree with all of this. But it says nothing about whether or not it is God’s will that evil happens. 

My understanding is without question incomplete, but I believe that it is more in accordance with both the world and the Word than the shallow, ominously-smiling Sunday School teaching that God wants little Bobby to go through chemo, little Susy to be born addicted to heroin and little Schmuly to die in a gas chamber because it’s good for them. Where was God? My guess – and that’s all it is – is that He was watching with tears in His eyes and waiting for someone to stand in the gap between Divine Heaven and Fallen Earth to be a conduit for His power to end the evil.  

A few comments here. (A) Vox appears to think that showing that Satan is very powerful and that the world is in his grip is enough to show that there is a biblical case that God is not in control. But He has not made this case. (B) No one argues that these bad things happen because they are, of themselves, good for the victims. (C) God never ‘waits’ in the way Vox puts it here. God is not passive. He orchestrates. He works. His creation is continual. (D) Vox doesn’t need to guess. It’s all there in the Bible, if he is willing to look at it. 

Now, I should make it clear that I have also, here, not (yet) made a good biblical case for what I am arguing. I have not really shown that Vox is wrong as much as I have shown that he may be wrong. But there is more to come. And in any case, that’s what this blog is for. So . . . more bible verses are on the way. 

In conclusion, I want to ask Vox, and those who are of his bent, two questions:

 

(1) Do you think there are as many as two hundred bible that speak of the majesty of God over all creation (as King, Ruler, etc.) or do you think there are only one hundred verses? 

(2) What would it take for you to believe that God is in control to the degree that I am arguing? I hope you are not thinking – I won’t believe it until it feels right.

Can you figure out where this takes place?

Nevers Dam Trail

“What is that noise?”
 asked the mother,
  Carrying the one-year-old in the snuggly
  The Father was carrying the 2-year-old on his back
   And three were walking with them
 As they walked down the trail
 On the not-so-warm spring day

It sounded like large loud crickets.

The family continued on the trail walking through a swamp of noise.
They were pleased with the qualities of the path for many reasons
 The trail kept them fifteen feet above the water
  Cold, dark and murky
 The trail was straight and well marked
  The children knew where to walk so that they would not fall down and in.
 The trail was even and not muddy
 And the trail was an easy path to the great
(and in this case Wild)
river, which was their destination
  (Thankfully not the Jordan, though named after a saint)

“Oh,” said the father, finally, “They’re frogs”
They looked down at the many swirling, swimming, singing reptiles.
 They were too small and hidden for the children to see.
 The father resisted the temptation to bring the kids down the steep slope to see them

They kept walking through the noisy swamp
thankful to the Engineer who, many years before, had created this path.

They would soon make their escape from the dangers behind,
 Through the noisy, dirty wetlands,
To the clean, strong waters of the river,
broadening in front of them.

They began to grow in their confidence that they would make it. 

==

Want more? Here’s the sequel to this poem, Nevers Again.

Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from Ephesians  

(Truth Part – Ephesian 1:1 – 4:16)

Compiled by Jamsco

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.··· Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places ···  He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him ··· In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will ··· In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace ··· God  put all things under Jesus’s feet and gave him as head over all things to the church ··· You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience ··· But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ ··· By grace you have been saved through faith and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. ··· We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them ···  Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. ··· He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near ··· You are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord  ··· To him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. ··· There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. ··· Grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift ··· He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. ··· Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,  from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Next week: The Application Part

One week ago today, I put in a blog entry which talked about the usage of the phrase “politically incorrect.”  In it I said:

“My belief is that as a result of this phrase, people have been tempted to behave more poorly than they would have.”

Two days later (last Saturday), the Star Tribune reported here  about a party that had happened at Macalester College (here in the Twin Cities):

“. . . A friend was telling him about a party in a campus house that was built around the theme “politically incorrect.” One student came dressed as a Ku Klux Klan member, accompanied by another student who was in blackface and wore a fake noose around the neck.  ‘My initial reaction was shock,’ Maitland-McKinley said. ‘I thought, this can’t really happen on my campus. … There is no getting past that many people were killed that way.’  Macalester is just the latest in a string of colleges nationwide to investigate student parties and incidents this year that have involved racial overtones.”

Now while I think (A) It’s probably true that those offended are making too big a deal about it, and (B) The College Administrations response – to make this a ‘teachable moment’ and talk things out and maybe we can make our students better – is a little silly, overly optimistic and a bit hypocritical, I still think this party was a bad and wrong-minded idea that was empowered by the popularity of the PC as a social concept.

Romance Advice from the Responsible Puppet

So you walk into the grocery store on this, the day set a side for romantic thought and you are hoping to get a gift for your beloved. Right there in front of you is a table filled with Boxes of Assorted Chocolates. Of course you’re going to buy one. Everybody loves assorted chocolates, right? All you have to figure out is how big a box you can afford.

Jamsco says: Think again.

Consider – how happy are you when you get a box of chocolates? If (you’re like me, which you aren’t but, again, go with me here) you are actually frightened when you recieve one of these.  Because you know that the first three you bite into are going to be something you don’t like and it will take until the fifth or the sixth to get something you moderately enjoy biting into.

It goes something like this:

You bite into one. “Hmm, dried apricot . . uh, nope.” You toss it in the garbage.

You bite into another. “Honey roasted parsnip? What?” Again, it gets tossed.

You bite into a third. You don’t recognize it. You look at it. You show it to your wife. She doesn’t recognize it. Something brownish green. You ask her to try it. She refuses to. You throw it away.

You bite into a fourth. “. . . . . Okay, marshmallow. I guess I don’t mind that so much.”

Sure, every tenth is caramel or darker chocolate, or raspberry or something. But by then, is it worth it?

So now (back at the grocery store making your chocolate buying decision) you have two options:

Option 1. Spend thirty dollars to get the really seriously high quality box of chocolates, with the map on the box telling you what each thing is. Then your spouse/significant other can eat the ones she likes and leave the rest on the snack table at work. But this pales in wisdom to . . .

Option 2. For the price (6 bucks) you could get the original box of 12 mixed chocolates, you can walk over to the candy aisle and get the 8 pound bag of m&ms. And c’mon, everyone likes m&ms. Buy the kind your significant other likes (peanut, mint, cherry, peanut butter, plain) and if you don’t know what kind she/he likes best, find out!

As for Jamsco (in case you ever want to buy me chocolate) I like anything but peanut.

Life isn’t like a box of chocolates, unless your life is a series of uncertainties, which, when revealed are tolerable at best, usually disappointments, and at worst, revolting.

Happy Valentines Day!

All right, it’s as I feared, no one guessed. Chickens. All of you. 

 

So the question from yesterday was: Who, in a more real way (or as real a way) than Luke, himself, caused Luke to turn on his light saber. My answer is: George Lucas*, when he wrote the words in the screenplay of the movie: “. . . and Luke turns on his light saber and attacks Darth Vader”

So someone might ask – who do you think is more responsible for the light saber coming on, Luke or George? And sir, I answer, they were both 100 percent responsible in completely different frames of reference.

It is like this with our actions and God. God causes our actions 100 percent, and we choose our Actions 100 percent. With an infinite God, causation of Human Response is not a zero sum game.

You say, that doesn’t make sense or that doesn’t seem fair or that is contradictory, but I suggest this then: show me the Bible Verse with which my paradigm conflicts.

My friend Barth commented thusly to one of my earlier blogs. I edited the ending of it so as to not let it act as a spoiler, but I will fix that now. Here is his comment:

So… four friends were sitting around chatting about Lord of the Rings… they had been fans long before it was a fad movie, and would be long after the movie had faded into obscurity.

They got on to the topic of Gollum, after finally stealing the ring from Frodo, falling into the lava of Mount Doom…

“I’ve always sort of wondered about what’s going on here…” comments one.
“Why? Its pretty obvious. Gollum, who had been so consumed by the ring, finally re-possesses it, right at the center of its power… he was taken over by the the emotion of the moment and just fell… It makes complete sense.”

“Sure, but I think there is more to it than that. I think that in some way, the will of the Ring played a role here. It was holding Gollum responsible for the vow to obey the master of the ring, back in Two Towers. Remember, even then, that Frodo had warned Gollum that the Ring was devious, and would hold Gollum to his promise… Which it does, even to its own destruction. It is the nature of the vow at play here.”

The third friend shakes his head… “No, the real reason that Gollum fell into the lava was Tolkien wanted him to.”

  

*Yes, I know, George didn’t actually write the screenplay for Episode VI. Work with me on this one.

So the Climax of the Movie “Return of the Jedi” is nearing and the Emperor is attempting to get Luke to join his side. A brief light saber battle ensued between Luke and Darth Vader, but Luke comes to his senses, stops fighting and hides from Darth. Refusing to fight, or even turn on his weapon.

Darth is looking for him, looking (interestingly) vulnerable and slightly foolish as he changes him movement when Luke speaks “I will not fight you.” (I may not have this completely correct – I am writing this from memory)

So Darth tries another tack – manipulation through though the force, by figuring out what Luke is feeling. “Your feelings for your friends are strong. Especially for . . . (and here Darth learns something valuable that surprises him) . . . your sister. So . . . you have a twin sister. Obi Wan was wise to hide her from me. . . .  If you will not join the dark side, then perhaps she will.”

And Luke’s Light Sabre turns on and he yells and attacks with unmatched fury.

So my point (besides writing down what might be one of the better scenes in Episode 6) is to ask this question.

Who caused Luke Skywalker’s Light Saber to turn on?

I suppose that most would give the answer “Luke – himself. . Duh.”

And then in the argument, I ask the question, “Of his own free will?” And my debater, or in the case of the argument I was in last Christmas, debaters say. “Yes, of his own free will.”

But there is another person who caused the weapon to come on, in a more real sense. To whom do you think I am referring?

My answer comes tomorrow. It might be obvious, but there we are. (No fair guessing if you have already heard the answer from me.) Also, I give it at least a 50 50 chance that no one will guess, or even get this far in the blog, but there we are.

Frontenac

The Family huddled
Against the
Yellow, unevenly chiseled, limestone
Cliff wall
And the father wondered:
Would they be safe and dry if it was raining?
(It wasn’t, of course. The weather was peaceful, pleasant and perfect
and the cliff was sheltering us from the wind)
To answer their question, they looked up and saw Rock.
No.
They would not be precipitated.

So they turned around and looked
Out through the trees
at the big river far below. It moved slow.
What if they could see sheets of rain pounding on it?
What if they could hear thousands of drops
pattering on thousands of yellow and red leaves?
What if they could intimately witness the wetness
And still stay high and dry?

But then they looked to their left and saw a slope of rock and moss
Aimed down, directly at them
And a crack near the face of the cliff which would act as a funneling trough
Straight toward them
In the event of rain.

(In this crack they found a large fuzzy caterpillar.
The father took a stick to gently move it
To prevent the certainty of it’s being drowned
In the event of rain)
This being done
They looked back at the rock slope to their left
and decided that this would not be a good place to stand.

Maybe if they moved to the right a little.

Compiled by Jamsco 

Everything I ever needed to know I learned from Bill Murray

I’m not living by their rules anymore! ··· I don’t have to take this abuse from you, I’ve got hundreds of people dying to abuse me. · That’s a fact, Jack! ··· There are two types of people in this world: those who like Neil Diamond and those who don’t. ··· My philosophy: a hundred-dollar shine on a three-dollar pair of boots. ··· Baby step to four o’clock. ··· 24 hours a day, seven days a week. No job is too big, no fee is too big. ··· There are some downsides to being a spy: The torture. But the women – they’re nice after the torture. ··· You ever hear of Tourette’s syndrome? Well, if I fake it then I don’t have it. · This crowd has gone deadly silent, a Cinderella story outta nowhere. Former greenskeeper and now about to become the masters champion. ··· I think I need a root canal. I definitely need a long, slow root canal. · Don’t order the Schnitzel, they’re using Schnauzer. ··· Suck in the guts, guys. ··· You want a prediction about the weather, you’re asking the wrong Phil. I’ll give you a winter prediction: It’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be gray, and it’s gonna last you for the rest of your life. ··· Now, for some of you it doesn’t matter. You were born rich and your going to stay rich. But here’s my advice to the rest of you: Take dead aim on the rich boys. Get them in the crosshairs and take them down. Just remember, they can buy anything but they can’t buy backbone. Don’t let them forget it. Thank you. ··· What if I’m looking for a bathroom, I can’t find one…and my bladder explodes? ··· NOBODY steps on a church in my town! ··· I don’t like when somebody comes up to me the next day and says, “Hey, man, I saw your play. It touched me; I cried.” I like it when a guy comes up to me a week later and says, “Hey, man, I saw your play… what happened?” ··· When I want a wife, I’m gonna buy a wife ··· License to kill gophers by the government of the United Nations. Man, free to kill gophers at will. To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit – ever. They’re like the Viet Cong – Varmint Cong. So you have to lie back on superior intelligence and superior firepower. And that’s all she wrote. ··· It’s the same things your whole life. “Clean up your room!”, “Stand up straight!”, “Pick up your feet!”, “Take it like a man!”, “Be nice to your sister!”, “Don’t mix beer and wine, ever!”. Oh yeah, “Don’t drive on the railroad track!” ··· Back off man. That may work with the chicks, but not with me. ··· We’re all very different people. We’re not Watusi, we’re not Spartans, we’re Americans! With a capital “A,” huh? And you know what that means? Do you? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world! ··· I got to get into this dude’s pelt and crawl around for a few days. Who’s the gopher’s ally. His friends: The harmless squirrel and the friendly rabbit. ··· And even if we win, if we win, HAH! Even if we play so far above our heads that our noses bleed for a week to ten days; even if God in Heaven above points his hand at our side of the field; even if every man woman and child joined hands together and prayed for us to win, it just wouldn’t matter because all the really good looking girls would still go out with the guys from Mohawk because they’ve got all the money! It just doesn’t matter if we win or if we lose. IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! ··· Back off, man. I’m a scientist ··· Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today. ··· So I jump ship in Hong Kong and make my way over to Tibet, and I get on as a looper at a course over in the
Himalayas. A looper, you know, a caddy, a looper, a jock. So, I tell them I’m a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald… striking. So, I’m on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one—big hitter, the Lama—long, into a ten-thousand foot crevasse, right at the base of this glacier. Do you know what the Lama says? Gunga galunga… gunga, gunga-galunga. So we finish the eighteenth and he’s gonna stiff me. And I say, “Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.” And he says, “Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.” So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.

Examples of Political Incorrectness in our American Society:

Telling sexually offensive jokes
Being, in any way, racist
Being anti-homosexual
Saying that the poor cause their own poverty
Being, in some way, anti-victim
Saying bad things about any religion
Being intolerant
Saying that women shouldn’t vote
Saying that people of another race are inferior in some way.

This concept causes some interesting incongruities.
Certain TV shows, for example, which don’t think twice about being offensive and would revel in being labeled politically incorrect, would never be caught being seen as anti-gay or racist.

In CS Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, Screwtape, the wiser tempter mentions that the word ‘puritanical’ has been used very successfully by tempters in relieving feelings of guilt by people who are too in love with the world. So if someone has feelings due to conscious that maybe they should not tell an offensive joke, or spend time with sarcastic people, or watch ungodly entertainment, the thought can be put into their head that by limiting themselves in this way, they are acting like a puritan by being too rigid and legalistic. They fear, or say they fear, that they might be seen this way by others, and in this way they condone a sinful action. So, Lewis suggests, the word puritanical, as it is used these days, has actually been a tool to tempt people to sin.

In the late eighties, the concept of political correctness, as a negative idea, was introduced. Politically Correct is the new Puritanical. (Yes, I understand the irony that these ideas are often coming from opposite sides.) My belief is that as a result of this phrase, people have been tempted to behave more poorly than they would have.
 
Comedians say that they will not be kept on a leash by the PC police and continue to tell racist jokes.
So an automobile dealer commercials use the politically correct phrase to enable it to get away with swearing.
A guy uses a handicapped parking space, he says, because he dares to be politically incorrect.
And a normally nice guy who in the 80’s wouldn’t have dreamed to consider race as a factor will feel free to not really consider hiring a black man, because, hey, I’m not really bound by those kind of restraints.

Too bad.

Here is Genesis 37:25-28.

The context is Joseph has been put in the cistern by his brothers and they are trying to determine what to do next.

“As the sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt. Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmailites and not lay our hands on him; after all, his is our brother, our own flesh and blood. His brothers agreed.

So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ismaelites, who took him to Egypt.”

So the question is – Who’s choice was it for Joseph to go to Egypt?

I suppose you could say that there were two willing parties – Joseph’s brothers and the Merchants. I suppose if you are looking for direct causation, it was the Merchants who committed the act that brought him to Egypt. They caused it.

But I think there was another person who caused Joseph to be sent to Egypt. In a more real way (or as real a way) than the merchants. That person would be God. God is sovereign. Things don’t happen without it being his will.

So the answer comes back to me. I don’t know, that’s pretty mean. Joseph clearly didn’t want to leave his father. I don’t think God would do that. God doesn’t force things to happen.

But what does the bible say? “It was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” So you say, either “Well, that’s just Joseph talking, he might have been mistaken” or “God didn’t send him to Egypt, he sent him (with Miraculous Dream Reading) from Prison to the Palace. That’s not nearly so mean.”

Well have you read Psalm 105:17, by the inspired Psalmist: “and he sent a man before them, Joseph, sold as a slave.”

Isn’t that pretty clear?

So we have the bible saying both that it was the Brother and the Merchants decision (100%) that caused Joseph to go to Egypt, and it was God’s decision (%100) for him to go there. The Bible shows that with an Infinite God, cause is not a zero sum game.

And what else did Joseph say about it?

“As for you, you meant it for evil against me; but God meant it for good.”

Note that, God didn’t just work with the bad act to make something good happen from it, God meant it for good. God caused it to happen with good things in mind.

How am I mistaken?

 

  1. My Friend

 

This harmless-sounding phrase has lately become a way for one person to talk down to another. . .

 

Person A. What? Don’t tell me that you are a Theological Universalist.

Person B. That’s exactly what I’m telling you, my friend.

 

. . . or for one person to express to another that they both are a step above all who disagree with them – Collusion.

 

Person A. Wow, you don’t suppose that they still think that Man has landed on the moon.

Person B. It sure looks like it, my friend.

 

 

2.  The Repeat.

 

The hope here is that if a statement is repeated it will give credence to what they are saying.

 

Person A. Well, it is certain that the Iraqi’s need stability.

Person B. But the question is: What do the Iraqi’s want? What do they want?

 

3. The Combo.

 

Sometimes a discussion causes a person to go for the doubly-troubling difecta.

 

Person A. Boy, I sure can’t understand why anyone would think that way.

Person B. I can’t either, my friend. I can’t either.

 

It doesn’t matter whether or not I agree with the speaker/writer on the point that they are discussing, if they use either of these, I suddenly find myself assuming that they think too highly of themselves.

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