Religion, Politics, Culture: Defined & Explained
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Thursday, February 11, 2016
Don’t You Wish?
If Beyoncé did a Doritos ad for the Super Bowl would the controversy be “Unborn Black Lives Matter?”
Friday, February 05, 2016
Myth of Solar Energy
Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, But a just weight is His delight.
I have a few older stories that I’ve been saving to comment on later; The State of Nevada and Solar Power is one. As is often the case, you must go outside the United States to see what’s going on in our country since our media is so reluctant to report the news instead of regurgitating press releases from their Liberal friends.
One would think that a state that is mostly desert, heat, and sunshine would be a leader in solar energy; however, this is not the case. Like their neighbors in California, the politicians in Nevada have decided that killing the “Golden Goose” is better than slowly bleeding it.
Although Nevada is one of the sunniest places in the world, there has recently been a dark cloud hovering over the rooftop solar industry in the state. Just before Christmas, Nevada’s public utility commission (PUC) gave the state’s only power company, NV Energy, permission to charge higher rates and fees to solar panel users – a move that immediately shattered the rooftop solar industry’s business model.
That’s right, at a time when Obama and company are trying to pile drive fossil fuels into the ground and Saudi Arabia has declared economic war on US energy companies, Nevada Power has killed the alternative energy market and effectively nationalized all privately owned solar cells in the state.
The money quote in the article is, “People would pay more for going solar rather than less. It has left companies no choice but to stop doing business in the state.”
Instead of Nevada Power paying fair market value for excess power that they purchase from solar customers, the utility says it will pay only 2.8 cents per kilowatt and then they will sell it for 13 cents. They also will be charging solar customers more for electricity that they buy on nights and cloudy days. This is in addition to charging each solar customer a $40 per month fee just to be hooked up to “the grid”.
The article concludes, “Not only that, if they are going to give us 2.8 cents a kilowatt and then sell it for 13 cents, basically 17,000 Nevada homeowners built a solar farm for Nevada power. I don’t think that can be right.”
For those of you that think commercial solar power is the answer, take a look in your favorite Internet search engine. Enter this criteria: California solar farm gross polluter
On the first page, you will begin to see mention of Ivanpah solar farm. Yeah, solar power is a gross polluter. Why? Because they need to burn large quantities of natural gas. big solar big gas Ivanpah
As its name implies, the Ivanpah Concentrated Solar Thermal Power Plant in the Mojave Desert is supposed to provide renewable energy from the rays of the sun.
But on March 26, 2014, Ivanpah applied to the California Energy Commission and the California Air Resources Board to increase, from one to five hours, its auxiliary gas-fired boiler’s use of pre-warmed fluid for its steam generators. Ivanpah generates power for about 12 hours of solar insulation each day, of which four to five hours are peak generation. Ivanpah is projected to generate electricity for 249 days each year due to cloud cover, desert windstorms, nighttime and other constraints.
Ivanpah morphs into gas solar hybrid
“The moral of the story? Expansive government is good at merely shifting environmental and economic problems around from one political constituency or region to another, while claiming it has solved such problems.”
—Master Resource article.
I recall seeing another story which stated that a solar farm in California was classified as a “gross polluter’ because they use too much water to scrub their solar panels. Sorry but I can’t find the reference to this story.
I did however find another solar related article.
A PV solar panel is not “pollution free”, just the opposite, it carries with it a very large carbon footprint and a trio of toxic emissions unique unto itself. A solar panel is a product manufactured by energy rich fossil fuels and lots of them, and that manufacturing process creates additional bad guys unique unto itself. Quote from Ozzie Zehner new book “Green Illusions”: “Not only are solar cells an overpriced tool for reducing CO2 emissions, but their manufacturing process is also one of the largest emitters of hexaﬂuoroethane, nitrogen triﬂuoride, and sulfur hexaﬂuoride, chemicals used for cleaning plasma production equipment, these three gruesome greenhouse gases make CO2 seem harmless. As a greenhouse gas, hexafluoroethane is twelve thousand times more potent than CO2, is 100 percent manufactured by humans, and survives ten thousand years once released into the atmosphere. Nitrogen triﬂuoride is seventeen thousand times more virulent than CO2, and sulfur hexaﬂuoride, the most treacherous greenhouse gas, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is twenty-ﬁve thousand times more threatening. The solar photovoltaic industry is one of the leading and fastest growing emitters of these gases, which are now measurably accumulating within the earth’s atmosphere, recent studies on nitrogen triﬂuoride reports that atmospheric concentrations of the gas have been rising an alarming 11 percent per year.”
Go solar California Information
I’ve been hearing the praises of solar power since Jimmy Carter was President but it still doesn’t seem ready for primetime.
The truth is nuclear can be safer, cheaper, and more available but one Jane Fonda movie and some stupid government regulations ruined the industry.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
A Story Concerning 13 Hours
A friend of mine is retired from the Air Force. Recently, he invited some Facebook friends to join him for a viewing of Michael Bay’s 13 Hours at a local theater. This was the second week after the movie’s release. He stated that we should all arrive early to be sure we got tickets.
I followed his instructions and arrived at the specified time. Not seeing him outside the theater, I bought my ticket so I could get out of the rain and inside the theater to see if he was already there. Again, I did not see him in the lobby, so I got a medium popcorn and drink and went to the appropriate theater. Again, I did not see him. I found a seat and waited.
After about 15 minutes of previews for TV shows I probably will never watch, I sent him a text. His reply was that they were about 8 minutes away.
Ten minutes later, they finally arrived. He said, “I’m sorry we’re late”.
My response was, “Isn’t that the whole point of the movie? You Air Force guys being late?”
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Christmas in a Time of Apostasy
I was hoping just to post something light in honor of Christmas and then take a few days off but then I went to World Net Daily and saw an article that really got me upset.
‘Fairy tale’: Many pastors don’t believe Jesus born of virgin
More people might come to church if Christians would drop “fairy tale” tidbits like the Nativity story.
That’s the belief of a minister in Cairns Church in Milngavie, Scotland.
According to Scotland’s Herald, Rev. Andrew Frater wants Christians to “move on from the ‘fanciful, fairy tale’ Nativity story and ‘disentangle the truth from the tinsel.’”
The report said Frater believes telling the traditional story of the birth of Jesus “had the effect of keeping people with doubts about their faith away from the church, as the Nativity was too easily dismissed.”
With the widespread rejection of a six-day creation in favor of evolution, it’s no wonder that the Virgin Birth of Christ should be so easily rejected. To reject one and hold to the other is a logical contradiction. What this also means is that once you reject Creation and the Virgin Birth, then you logically must also reject the Resurrection of Christ. Once you reject the Resurrection, then you are no longer a Christian.
Which brings us to the next part of the article.
According to a 1998 poll of 7,441 Protestant clergy in the U.S., the following ministers said they didn’t believe in the virgin birth:
• American Lutherans, 19 percent
• American Baptists, 34 percent
• Episcopalians, 44 percent
• Presbyterians, 49 percent
• Methodists, 60 percent
With so many clergy rejecting the authority of Scripture, is it any wonder that the Church is becoming increasingly irrelevant in the West? Wolves in sheep’s clothing are the norm in many denominations. If clergy are willing to publicly disclose their disbelief, it seems likely that others doubt but are afraid to say so. These statistics are gathered by religious tolerance.org Virgin Birth Surveys
I’m sure the heresy in these denominations has grown worst since 1998. Can you say “gay marriage”?
What is interesting on this website is that more regular people believe in the Virgin Birth than clergy by a wide margin.
Some ministers think they can deny the clear teaching on such core issues such as the Virgin Birth and Resurrection and be Christians but Scripture contradicts such nonsense.
The Virgin Birth is not optional; it is the core of the Incarnation. If God did not become man then there is no hope for us. Creation, the Virgin Birth and Resurrection are all core doctrines of the historic Christian Creeds.
The Biblical account is not ambiguous. The Virgin Birth is an historical fact. Here are some passages supporting this core doctrine:
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.” When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. Matthew
1:18-25 emphasis added
Luke, a physician by train, wrote not only the Gospel bearing his name but also the book of Acts, begins his narrative by stating that he interviewed eye witnesses and investigated the facts to write his account of the life of Christ.
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
Luke 1:1-4 emphasis added
Contrast this with Rev Frater, “For me, it’s time to travel beyond the literalists’ landscape; time to acknowledge that Luke and Matthew were not newspaper reporters. Although facts were for them significant, they were also secondary.”
So we have a choice, believe the written account of eyewitnesses or the rambling of a Scottish hypocrite who swore an oath of fidelity to a God he doesn’t believe in.
Like Matthew, Luke is not ambiguous.
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
Luke 2:34-38 emphasis added
There are other mentions of the Virgin Birth in the Gospels that are beyond the scope of this article that create even more problems for Frater and other doubters.
Likewise the Resurrection is not an optional doctrine for Christians.
But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay. Acts 13:37
And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 1 Corinthians 15:14
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 1 Corinthians 15:17
Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— Galatians 1:1
I would like to close this blog with some portions of the Athanasian Creed that are relevant to this topic. There are 44 lines to the complete Creed.
1. Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;
2. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
29. Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
30. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.
31. God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of substance of His mother, born in the world.
32. Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.
33. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.
34. Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.
35. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God.
36. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.
37. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;
38. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead;
39. He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God, Almighty;
44. This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.
Friday, December 18, 2015
California Agency Struggles to Comfort Employees
De Nile is not just a river in Egypt; it’s a way of life when liberals run the government.
Yesterday, another missive was circulated entitled “Emergency Situation Preparedness.” Citing the San Bernardino shooting and closure of Los Angeles schools (based on a hoax), this state agency sent out the “…following information copied from a large university’s safety update includes valuable information from their Campus Security on preparedness and what to do if you are involved in an active shooter situation.”
The email goes on to try to describe the difference between an active shoot and a hostage situation. “Hostage or barricaded subject situations often take place over a longer period of time, and usually there is no ongoing injury or loss of life. “
Somehow the Beslan terror attack is omitted from these discussions. (see Wikipedia article on Beslan school siege) The Beslan terror attack involved 1,100 hostages taken at an elementary school. Over the three day siege, 385 were killed. Most Americans have never heard of this event. A documentary on this event—narrated by actress Julia Roberts—is well worth viewing.
The memo then goes on to describe how to respond when a shooter is in your area. The reader is offered three options after they dial 911:
Option 3, Fight is the most entertaining section to read. Remember government buildings including schools and offices are “gun free zones”. This means only bad guys can be armed in these areas. They are the aggressors and we are the targets (victims).
Take action against the active shooter as a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by:
• Acting as aggressively as possible against him/her.
• Throwing items and improvising weapons.
• Committing to your actions.
Todd Beamer comes to mind when I read this section but then I remember it is addressed to government workers and my heart sinks. Just for fun, let’s go thru these.
Acting aggressively—OK that guy has a gun, he has just shot up your office and now you walk up to him and do what, growl? Oh, sorry be aggressive and yell. When you yell what do you say, “Get off my lawn”? “Bullying is wrong and you should stop it?”
Throw items—perhaps staplers and tape dispensers. Yeah, tape dispensers, they are heavier and more aerodynamic than coffee cups and flat screen monitors. Like zombie movies, aim for the head.
Committing to your actions—means what exactly? Contrary to popular culture, John Wayne never took unnecessary risks in his movies; he just did what needed to be done. I guess if you plan to fight, be willing to “take one for the team”.
Apparently this is why the last memo we got said keep your ID card with you at all times, so they can identify your body after you miss with the stapler.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Review: Childhood’s End
This week I watched the three part presentation of Childhood’s End on the SyFy channel. The program looked interesting. It was a modern take on the 1953 story by Arthur C Clarke. I have not read the book by Clarke but I did read the summary on Wikipedia.org just to get a feel for what the story was about.
During the six hour program, there were some iconic scenes in this drama that I have seen in other movies. It appears that Clarke was influential on others. The spaceships arriving over the large cities of the world seemed like a redo of Independence Day or the TV show V. Part 3 had some portions that reminded me of the last part of 2001—a much later novel by Clarke. Some parts were like the movie portrayal of Carl Sagan’s Contact. Some of the Midwestern farm scenes were similar to Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. One scene with the farm house was reminiscent of Poltergeist. I also thought of Hellboy and the video game series Diablo for a couple of reasons.
These other movies all came between the novel publication and the miniseries of Childhood’s End. Who properly deserves credit for copying whom is probably debatable. The photography and visual effects were really good for something produced by this NBC owned cable network.
The story was tweaked to fit a 21st century setting as opposed to one at the height of the Cold War and prior to the “Space Race”. The story was about aliens coming to our world to end, war, poverty, and disease. They established a utopia for man’s existence. Had the story gone a different direction at this point, it could have become the famous Twilight Zone episode To Serve Man.
The story goes that the utopia or “golden age of man” not only ended war, poverty, and disease but all organized religion as well. In fact, part 2 of the miniseries opens to a cover of John Lenin’s song Imagine. The world created by the alien race was a verbatim fulfillment of the song.
So who were the aliens that brought all this about? I was expecting E.T. , or some guy in green make-up, but no; in the last five seconds of part 1, we get to see the Overlord, Karellen. Karellen is an alien that is a dead-ringer for ol’ scratch himself. I’ll let Steve Taylor describe him:
When the wind came hissing through the vents,
And I felt my sneakers growing tense
My forehead broke in a cold, cold sweat
In the rearview was a silhouette
Then I heard the doorlocks take a dive
And a whisper screamed “Don’t turn around, just drive”
Scratch! Dressed in red—pointy tail and horn-rimmed head
And a widow’s peak like Eddie Munster
From Drive, He Said 1985
Yeah, the aliens looked like Diablo or Hellboy without big muscles.
Karellen, the Overlord of Earth
Clarke did this on purpose. Not only did he have to do away with organized religion but he had to do it in a way that directly tries to confront Christianity. Here are some things that came to my mind as I think about the program.
• Satan and those that look like him are the good guys.
“Five decades after their arrival the Overlords reveal their appearance, resembling the traditional Christian folk images of demons: large bipeds with cloven hooves, leathery wings, horns, and tails.” –Wikipedia
Satan doesn’t look like Scratch but appears as an angel of light. The time frame in the TV show was less than the fifty years in the novel.
• What we know as manifestations of demon possession are really demonstrations of psychic power
The Bible teaches that demon possession happens, whether it is common or exceptional is a matter of some debate amongst Christians. Scripture has no warrant for telekinesis or psychic powers.
• Ouija boards are good
People with psychic powers use Ouiji board to find the homeworld of the Overlords.
In the Bible, seeking knowledge from the spirit world is forbidden. We are to rely solely on God.
• All humans are rendered incapable of having children
Children are a gift from God and part of the mandate to take dominion over the Earth. Infertility is not normal. A closed womb can be a sign of divine judgement.
• Children are mutated (or evolved) into higher beings
Man will never change or evolve; our technology may change but only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can transform mankind.
• God is the creation or a least the consciousness of it
“Karellen reveals the Overlords’ purpose; they serve the Overmind, a vast cosmic intelligence, born of amalgamated ancient civilizations, and freed from the limitations of material existence.” –Wikipedia
This contrasts with the Biblical teaching that God is separate from the creation but interacts and sustains it.
• The portrayal of Christians on the show is of deluded souls who deny reality.
The false dilemma of faith being not only at odds with science but in direct opposition to it is perpetrated. Christians believe that God made the material world and that because God is a God of order and perfection that the creation is in fact knowable. Christianity is the basis of science not its adversary. The universe is not random chance, probability, and time. Such a world would be unfathomable.
• Clarke’s metaphysics are nonsense and not internally consistent.
Since Childhood’s End is an earlier work than 2001, the portion of the miniseries dealing with the death of a main character is less of an LSD trip than the Star Child junk at the end of 2001. In Childhood’s End, it’s a cross between that scene and John de Lancie’s Q running amok on the holodeck in TNG.
Clarke wants an afterlife but without God. It’s appointed for man to die and after death to face judgement, but it’s a prospect that Clarke tried to avoid.
Childhood’s End is more like Clarke’s childhood tantrum.
We believe that the world was created, has a purpose, and will end someday. Some Christians believe we are living near the end times while others say we are still in the age of the early church. I know some that say we will go to the stars and populate other worlds. They see no contradiction with such an idea. My friend David Chilton was one who held this position.
Science fiction does not have to be hostile to organized religion. Babylon Five is a great example of such a futuristic place. Clarke, Sagan and others want to abolish it. Gene Roddenberry was another. He got very upset when he learned Christians embraced much of his vision of the future. In fact, one episode of the original Star Trek was devoted to Christianity but it has rarely ever aired in syndication. The episode is of a parallel Earth where it took two thousand years for Christianity to finally overcome the Roman Empire.
Childhood’s End starts with much promise but implodes completely before the end of the second part. The final installment becomes laborious to watch. The most interesting part was the man that travels to the Overlord’s homeworld. Their home looks suspiciously like Hell, complete with fire and brimstone. Unfortunately, all we get is a brief glance of the planet followed by some more metaphysical nonsense and the poor guy is whisked off to a dead Earth.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Take Me home for the Holidays Event
Those days when a hood ornament gave you status may be making a comeback.
Wednesday, December 09, 2015
Criminalizing the Otherwise Lawful
Last Saturday, I was hunting for parts for the Facebook car that my wife purchased for my daughter. It took multiple stops to track down a replacement seat for this vehicle. In the course of my journeys, I encountered something that would make my friends at the Board of Equalization tremble. I wasn’t that surprised but still it seemed worth a mention on my blog.
While I was waiting to get my item pulled from inventory, some Hispanic fellows came into the store to get some parts for their week-end project. The sales guy asked what parts that they needed. The salesman then quoted them some prices. They seemed reluctant to pay that much and then the sales guy said, “No sales tax for cash purchases.”
I know I was told my part would be one hundred dollars plus tax. Then these other guys come into the store and are offered a different deal. I began to ponder this. It seems that this moral dilemma has many aspects to it. Oh, I’m not jealous that they got a different deal than me but it does make you wonder.
Let’s look at this situation:
• First, the State of California already got their pound of flesh from these used cars back when they were new. In effect, to tax these very used parts again is double taxation. On the face of it, this seems wrong.
• Second, if some guy like me buys these parts, aren’t we keeping them out of the landfill just a little longer? I thought recycling was supposed to be good public policy so why should I be punished with taxing these parts again? To most folks these items are just junk. The axiom, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” comes to mind.
• Third, aren’t we expected to give breaks to folks that might be of dubious citizenship? President Obama and Governor Brown sure think so. Their stated policy is don’t ask, don’t check.
• But fourth, shouldn’t we follow the law however unreasonable as long as it doesn’t violate God’s law? Romans 12 anyone?
• Fifth, tyranny is wrong so must we obey stupid laws that turn otherwise law abiding folks into criminals?
To summarize; is the simple statement about cash purchases not paying sales tax really that simple? It seems to be a microcosm of modern life.
As for me, I was just glad that I didn’t need to pay freight on my parts.
Tuesday, December 08, 2015
GOP Throws Scott Jones Under the Bus
Often a political candidate makes exactly two decisions for his entire campaign; the first is to run for an office and the second is hiring his political consultant.
In the case of Sheriff Scott Jones, after much arm twisting and pleading, Jones agreed to run against Ami Bera in the 7th Congressional District.
The second decision—that of choosing a political consultant—is often a function of the decision making process.
Often candidates recruited by the Party are handed off to one of their loyal consultants. Republican consultants have proven track records of consistently loosing every two years but somehow it is never their fault.
The first thing to know about consultants is that once hired, they treat candidates as their employees. They tell candidates what to say or more importantly not say, where to go, how to dress, etc. Typically, from the date they are hired until after the election, consultants functionally lobotomize their candidates. Candidates fail to realize that the consulting firm is supposed to work for them. Consultants do what makes money for them, not what helps candidates to win.
The other thing consultants do is load balance their schedules. They calculate that half their candidates will not make it past the June election so they plan on loosing half their races. They then go to November hoping to win half that number. So a successful consultant has a seventy-five percent loss record with twenty-five percent victories. The loosing employees in June are the ones assigned to Jones’ campaign in November. Try that level of success in the private sector and see how long you would remain in business.
Since Jones will likely have no credible Republican opponent in June, his consultants have already decided not to do any campaigning until after the summer. It has been a month since he announced his candidacy and there is no one at his consulting firm assigned to his campaign. Posts to his campaign Facebook account and calls to the consultant’s office are all but ignored. As they are able, the consulting firm will respond—typically weeks later. The Jones campaign currently has zero people on the campaign staff. In addition, there are no plans of opening any campaign headquarters in the district. Clearly Jones’ campaign is on the back burner.
But never fear, things are even worse than I just described. Jones’ consulting firm has no clue about him. Jones won every precinct in Elk Grove when he ran against Jim Cooper for County Sheriff but his consultants didn’t know that. Like the Ose campaign before them, the consultants were planning to write-off Elk Grove and cede it to Bera.
Furthermore, the consultants have no clue who the influence makers are in the district. It’s just another job to them. How Jones got to be Sheriff or what base of support he may have from previous campaigns is beyond their ability to even investigate. They have their campaign in a box already figured out.
A friend described this to me as a “Groundhog Day” campaign. Repeat the same mistakes and expect a different outcome…sounds like insanity to me. Actually, both are true.
Bill Murray from Groundhog Day
Lastly, there is no way that the RNC, RCC, or CRP will give Jones any meaningful financial support in the race. The national Party gets more bang for their buck in other states and has too many seats to defend in this cycle. Taking out an incumbent like Bera in a state like California is too costly to be achieved. The best they can hope for is pinning down some money that Bera would otherwise spend in other districts.
Thus Jones is being thrown under the bus; just more grist for the consulting class to chew-up in 2016 so they will be there in 2018 to do likewise to some other schmuck.
Scott Jones is a good man and deserves better.
Tuesday, December 01, 2015
12 Days of Christmas
Contrary to what many folks think, December 25th is not the twelfth day of Christmas; even if the days preceding it are called the Twelve Daves of Christmas—as a local television station likes to call it while doing live remotes from various brightly lit homes in the broadcast area.
No, December 25th is the first day of Christmas and January 6th is the last. January 6th is also known as Epiphany, as it celebrates the arrival of the wise men to the manger to worship the baby Jesus and give him gifts. Epiphany is the inclusion of the world into the promises of the Jewish Messiah.
The period leading up to Christmas is known as Advent. This time is not supposed to be a time of intense retail therapy but a time of reflection about the need that we have of a Savior. Here I think is the real problem of our society, we don’t really think we need a Savior. We have so much “stuff” that we are distracted. We miss the fact that human beings are damaged and broken; left on our own, chaos and death follow.
Pascal said that within the heart of every man is a God shaped vacuum. We just keep trying to fill that hole in our lives with so much “stuff” in hopes we will not be confronted with the reality of our fatal condition.
I think this—at least in part—explains the materialism of Christmas. Christmas says you need a Savior but we try to save ourselves or at least deny the reminder that we need saving. Materialism is just our way of screaming, “La, La La, La, I can’t hear you God.”
I don’t really know why, but today my fifth grade son sent the following email to those in his address book:
I got this a year or two ago and I thought I could share it again.
1. The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
2. Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
3. Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.-
4. The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
5. The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
6. The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
7. Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit—Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
8. The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
9. Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit—Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
10. The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.
11. The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
12. The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.
So there is your history for today. This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and enlightening and now I know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol…so pass it on if you wish.’
Merry Christmas Everyone
It’s nice to know the children are listening.
Monday, November 30, 2015
The Kind of Phone Call You Dread to Receive
Thanksgiving Day we went to see relatives and enjoy a wonderful meal. After the wife and I got home, we stayed up to watch some television while the children were in bed. We went to bed about 11 pm. Since everyone was off on Friday we planned to sleep in and then see other relatives later that day.
I tend to be the lightest sleeper in the family and usually get up several times during the night. At 3:30 in the morning I woke up and started to head toward the bathroom when I heard voices coming from the kitchen. I headed out there and heard my sister on the answering machine.
“I need you to call mom and dad. I fell and hit my head on the bathtub. I can’t get up or get anybody else on the phone.”
At that point I was able to pick up the phone and talk to her. She told me that she had tried to call my parents and some other folks that she knows. Due to the crumby cell service in her area, she was unable to complete a call to anyone else. I knew she was scraping the bottom of the rolodex barrel if she was calling me. I promised her I would call my parents and get them to check on her. (They live 45 minutes closer to her than I do.)
I hung up the phone and called my parents. They headed over to check on her. My sister lives about 25 minutes from my folks so I knew they wouldn’t arrive until about 4 am.
After hanging up the phone I finally made it to the bathroom. It was then that the seriousness of the situation hit me. My sister is disabled due to something called Trigeminal neuralgia. This condition is caused by a blood vessel compressing the Trigeminal nerve.
(More info can be found here Trigeminal neuralgia )
Her situation is severe. My sister is on a variety of different pain medications and seems to be getting worse over time.
I was thinking of her, alone and hurting, needing help that due to distance, I was ill-equipped to provide. I really felt for her and began crying. I was surprised at my reaction but at the time I couldn’t stop sobbing. I went to my bed and started texting some people including my sister that lives in another time zone.
At four, I reached out to my parents via text messaging. (I didn’t want to tie up their phone in case they needed to call for some help for my sister.) They informed me that the gate to the subdivision where my sister lives was closed and they couldn’t get in. It was then I learned that they did not have a key to her house, they did not know her house number or street name and they didn’t know how to get thru the gate.
I know they have been to her place many times and that they are helping to pay for my sister’s place; but they had no info on her actual address! I suggested that they call the county sheriff for a welfare check or 911 as emergency folks could get thru the gate. They refused to do so. They told me this had happened once before and it was probably no big deal. I was told they would go home and then check on her in a few hours!
I’m sorry but such an answer was unacceptable to me. My sister made it clear she was in trouble and the idea that no one would check on her really made me angry.
I took a shower, got dressed and then headed over to check on her myself. I know that she had moved earlier this year and I only knew the subdivision where she lived but I was determined to resolve the situation.
We have a mutual friend that lives on the way to her place. I knew he could help me if he was home and not traveling on this four day week-end. At 5 A.M., I was knocking on his door. About two minutes later, he was at the door. I explained the phone call that I had gotten and he drew a map to my sister’s house.
I jumped into the car and was off to find my sister. When I got to her subdivision, the gate was open. One problem solved and now to find her house. I went to the street described to me by our friend. I couldn’t find the house he described so I parked my car and got out my flashlight and began searching for my sister’s car. It soon became clear that something was wrong. I couldn’t find her place. Then I got a text from my friend and he said it might actually be on this other street. I walked back to the car and drove to the other street.
I found her car right away and then knocked on the door. No answer. I walked around the little house and tried to look into the windows. No luck. I went back to the door and knocked again. I heard something inside and then my sister opened the door.
She explained to me how she had fallen off the toilet and hit her head on the bathtub and where else she had hurt herself in the fall. I visited with her for a while. Since I had a small flashlight, I checked her pupils and they were dilated about where I figured they should be for the amount of light in the room. She thanked me for checking on her and then I left.
On the way to the car, I texted everyone I had tried to contact and told them my sister was bruised but ok.
I made good time getting home and got Chick-fil-A breakfast for the family, arriving at home just after sunrise. It was almost time to begin my regularly scheduled day.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
The Guiltiest Time of The Year
Thanksgiving is the time of the year when people try to make you feel guilty because you have more stuff that other people. I guess this is the Madison Avenue version of the thing my mom used to say to us as small children, “Finish what’s or your plate. Eat your vegetables. Just think of all those starving people in order countries.”
What lesson were my parents trying to teach me by making such statements?
• Keynesian economics?
• For me to be fed some other child must go hungry?
• The butterfly effect? For me not to eat broccoli was to cause famine in Asia?
Now when I go to the grocery store or local fast food place, I am asked to give even more to feed the poor. We have had a “War on Poverty” since 1964 and somehow, after trillions of dollars are spent, we have the same percentage of poor folks in our country as we did fifty years ago. Under Obama, it might even be more.
The claim that really frosts me is the “just one dollar can feed ____ number of people”.
In the local Taco Bell you will see many signs that read, “One dollar can feed four people”. OK, so how come my three tacos and a drink just cost me seven bucks? At those prices feeding my family of four at your restaurant would cost me almost $28.
Sign in Taco Bell
At the grocery store today, they had coupons that I could presumable buy; one coupon for each meal. A dollar can feed four for breakfast, three for lunch and two for dinner. Really? What kind of banquet and where can I get it for my family?
At your local government school, your kid can get at least two meals a day and it doesn’t even count against your welfare check.
What do you mean there are starving people in our country?
I’ve been to other countries. The poor in our country are better off than most of the middle class people in any other place on the planet. Most middle class in other countries don’t have PlayStations, flat screen TVs, DirecTV, two cars, and kids in the junior soccer league. This is standard equipment for the “poor” in the United States.
I think our definition of “starving” is lacking some truth and transparency.
In our society, most folks in poverty are there for bad choices not because they are “down on their luck”. I’m all for “teaching a man to fish” but when the producers supplement others to the point where the beneficiaries of their hard work don’t want to fish, clean, cook, or do dishes, then the society is broken. “The haves” are not the servants of the “have nots”.
Sometimes I think we are close to the world of Atlas Shrugged; if the producers quit then what would the rest do? Somehow, I can’t see them clamoring for the return of John Galt.
I plan to enjoy my Thanksgiving meal with my family. I’m grateful to God for what he has given me. For me Thanksgiving is not about guilt or greed, but somehow that seems to be the dual themes on television this time of year.
Also, Thanksgiving is not an official holiday so you can work-out your retail strategy for “Black Friday.” What we need is not better deals at the Maul or easier credit terms so our gilded cages are crammed full of more junk. If we really want a “Black Friday” it should be one involving sack cloth and ashes that is dedicated to repenting for our open rebellion against God. Until the spiritual direction of the country changes don’t expect things to get better.
Have a great Thanksgiving and count your blessings; then thank God for them not yourself.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Painless DMV Visit
My wife spends too much time on social media. A few weeks ago, she found this car for sale on Facebook. Yeah, not my first choice either but the car was priced to move at $800.
We ended up contacting the owners. The car was drivable and had some cosmetic issues but to did run. After agreeing to buy it, we did have to remind the owners that state law requires the seller to get the vehicle smogged. Not surprisingly, it failed the first time on visual inspection. The owners replaced a hose and then go it to pass the emissions test.
We paid them for the car and then my wife went on the internet to make an appointment at DMV.
$800 car found on Facebook
Our appointment was for 9:10 AM. When we got there, the line was literally out the door. There were 12 to 18 people just waiting to get into the building. We got in the appointment line—which was much shorter. After waiting a few minutes, we got to the check-in counter and told the lady why we were there. She gave us a form and clipboard and we waited our turn. A few minutes later, my wife and daughter were at the counter doing the paperwork for the title. After paying fees, taxes and registration, my daughter was out $166 on an $800 car and we were leaving to go home. The whole process was over in about twenty minutes.
I know state workers want to spend time with their families on Thanksgiving so considering that they were shorthanded, I thought things went well. Moral of the story, make an appointment; it will lower your frustration level and save time.
Monday, November 16, 2015
Awkward Questions for Dad
Yesterday was one of those awkward days for being a parent. I took my son to the Dollar Store to get stuff for his shoe box for Samaritan’s Purse. This is a great charity and I’m happy to support it. He is doing it as a school project.
While we were at the strip mall, I thought it would be a good idea to check-out the used book store across the parking lot. After looking around the store, he decided he wanted to get a book on mythology. Of course, this happened to be one of the few new books for sale in a place with thousands of used books.
I relented and agree to purchase the book for my son so we go to the counter to pay. Surrounding the counter are many new books for sale. At his eye level is a book that gets his attention so he asked me about it.
“Dad, what’s 50 Shades of Grey about?”
I said, “It’s about people that want to have sexual relations without consequences, but there is no such thing. It’s against God’s rules.”
Hoping I dodged a bullet on that one, we are starting to drive out of the parking lot as he looks at the table of contents for the mythology book. He then asks, “Dad, what’s rape?”
Not knowing where to start, I say, “It’s something that happens a lot in war. A bad guy will kill a man and then force the wife to have sexual relations with him; since she doesn’t want too, its rape. But sometimes it happens here in our country… It’s against the Bible… I think it’s one of the sins that can be punishable by death.”
I know he’s eleven now but I’m not in any hurry for him to grow up.
Thursday, November 05, 2015
Why Both Parties are More Alike
As time goes on, it seems that the Republicans are becoming more like the Democrats. There is less and less difference between the two parties.
Ronald Reagan famously said that he didn’t leave the Democrat Party, they left him.
I‘ve been feeling that way about the Republicans for the last few years. In our current political climate does anybody think Reagan could get the nomination of either party? NO. Most Republican office holders claim the legacy and heritage of Reagan but the reality is that they despise everything that he stands for.
As part of a study at church, I had to dust off my copy of Schaeffer’s Christian Manifesto. Ironically, it was written early in the first term of the Reagan Presidency. Thirty odd years after it was written, it seems a summary of where we are today:
“…we must remember that although there are tremendous discrepancies between conservatives and liberals in the political arena, if they are both operating on a humanistic base there will really be no final different between them.”
Francis A Schaeffer
Christian Manifesto Chapter 6; 1982
Schaeffer’s thesis is that Christianity is in a struggle with Humanism over the hearts and minds of men—especially in the West. It’s worth a read if you want to know what went wrong.