Category: Lessons Learned

Women Are Safe

For Matt

I’m just saying that Robert Louis Stevenson is masterful. Check out this little section I just read from his The Master of Bellantrae.

Let anyone speak long enough, he will get believers. This view of Mr. Henry’s behavior crept about the country by little and little; it was talked upon by folk that knew the contrary, but were short of topics; and it was heard and believed and given out for gospel by the ignorant and the ill-willing. Mr. Henry began to be shunned; yet awhile, and the commons began to murmur as he went by, and the women (who are always the most bold because they are the most safe) to cry out their reproaches to his face. The Master was cried up for a saint. It was remembered how he had never any hand in pressing the tenants; as, indeed, no more he had, except to spend the money. He was a little wild perhaps, the folk said; but how much better was a natural, wild lad that would soon have settled down, than a skinflint and a sneckdraw, sitting, with his nosed in an account book, to persecute poor tenants! One trollop, who had a child to the Master, and by all accounts been very badly used, yet made herself a kind of champion of his memory. She flung a stone one day at Mr. Henry.

“Whaur’s the bonnie lad that trustit ye?” she cried.

Mr. Henry reined in his horse and looked upon her, the blood flowing from his lip, “Ay, Jess?” says he. “You too? And yet ye should ken me better.” For it was he who had helped her with money.

The woman had another stone ready, which she made as if she would cast; and he, to ward himself, threw up the hand that held his riding rod.

“What, would ye beat a lassie, ye ugly—-?” cries she, and ran away screaming as though he had struck her.

Next day word went about the country like wildfire that Mr. Henry had beaten Jessie Broun within an inch of her life.

Makes me wonder. Where is the woman who admits her safe status today? Seems out-of-fashion. And if she is in danger, what factors contributed to the change?

I say you’re all still very safe, safer in fact than you were in the nineteenth century–and that this still explains your boldness.

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Another One For Only My Christian Readers

This Sunday, the church I have been a member of for three years now will recognize any/all graduates. It’s a fairly depressing ceremony as the congregation has lost so many members over the years that there are only a few remaining “youth” or “grandkids” that can be mustered out for display. For my part, I will be recognized for my post-undergraduate certificate thingy.

This calls to mind two things. First, I am sure I know more about the Bible, text-criticism of it especially, than my pastor and I’m not sure what to do about that. Second, I am sure someone will suggest I finish the master’s degree proper at some point when they realize I didn’t get one.

Here’s the thing. I will never attempt to do this. My reasons are not difficult to understand to me, but to all you encouragers I feel like my reasoning requires moving a mountain.

This is my final attempt. I stumbled upon this little gem in my Great Books of the Western World, Vol. 2. On the topic of “being” the following is included.

“It has seldom been supposed that reality exhausts the objects of our thought or knowledge. We can conceive possibilities not realized in this world. We can imagine things which do not exist in nature.

Every professor at the school I attended for three years, including those who sit on the NIV translation committee, believe that reality does exhaust knowledge. For example, they believe numbers are not imagination, but real. (As are triangles, nouns in the genitive case, and the like.)

Folks can believe what they want. But coupling this belief about the world with the one painted by the Bible makes it flatly a lie. They are wrong at a level which touches evil. Worse, in all my discussions with them, they never even acknowledged that they knew there was another option. Well I’m it. And I won’t fight them. I won’t. It’s foolishness.

There is huge trouble brewing–like you should be afraid–when men-of-god do not discern the difference between a circle or noun and the Exodus. One is only in our mind, the other happened. In that moment, the instant separation fades, the moment the circle “happens,” pride envelopes them and the meaningful distinction between creature and creator blurs. Aside: One thing I haven’t yet had time to research is just when precisely the academic types stopped declaring themselves divine. We know the infamous and hell-bound Greeks used to, and we know that they don’t anymore. But I’m curious when they stopped actually asserting it. By my thinking, the folks who think the LORD is in some way involved with grammar etc. are just closet-deity-declarers. Here’s the test question for you laymen. Can the all-powerful LORD make Frodo not throw the ring into Mordor? If you think the LORD can stop Frodo, how would He? And if you think the LORD cannot stop Frodo, what is preventing Him?

Do not mis-read me. Men-of-god can have as deep of imaginations as Anne Shirley. But they have to admit when they’re using them.

For example, I have reached far enough back into Ancient Near Eastern history to believe that the reason the adversary in the Garden is “the serpent” (versus some other predator) is because of how serpents bind their prey. Sin–disobedience to our Heavenly Father–binds us up just like the serpent binds its food. Serpents don’t use fingers, they don’t use arms and legs, they use everything that they are. That’s precisely how the adversary works. He doesn’t mess around and he desires us. And a really neat part of this is that no matter how much we struggle, we cannot get free. It takes someone outside of us to save us. Just like the Gospel recorded happened some two thousand years ago.

But that is all part of my imagination. The Word of God says no such thing. It draws no connection, and it never seeks to answer my question of, “Why the serpent?…besides the fact that it was the serpent.”

So that is my imagination. You don’t have to believe it. It probably isn’t true. But it satisfies me.

Finally, you may ask, “Why not track down some seminary that is in line with your understanding?” Ah, but there couldn’t be one. The LORD holds all power. Christ holds all power. It is His to give. Understand?

In retrospect, I should’ve went to Law School. Or Engineering.

Oh well. I can translate some cuneiform. That’s something.

I Think I’ve Lost My Grip…

…on the rental market in Denver.

Just a few short weeks ago I was mentally preparing to begin seeking a one-year lease on a house. Pretty soon, I discovered that if I was willing to sign a lease for longer than one year, it may move me to the top of the applicant list.

Yesterday I visited a nice home that would work, and submitted an application for a two-year lease. Within hours I received an email from the owner detailing that he went with an applicant who would sign a five-year lease.

Five years! Wow. What rules govern the market in Denver?

Any help, blogosphere?

Pete Vs. Pete: Pete Wins!

Sometimes I want to believe that you read past comments on posts and consequently are in the loop. Naturally, this would be asking entirely too much, so here I’ll share a bit of the back and forth I had with another blogger named Pete. And this sharing may help ease your fears after yesterday’s post.

The moment was way back on March 28th. The March For Our Lives had just accomplished nothing. Yet there was another Pete out there who wanted to chat. After exchanging a few clarifying comments, I read a post that he had written after Sandy Hook and I replied,

ME: “Again, my point is not to persuade–not yet–but to see if we each can paraphrase what we each are saying. After reading your piece, I think the fundamental difference between your and my thoughts is best illustrated by the ‘time to show the world…violence is not in our DNA.'”

See, I believe violence is in our DNA. Anyhow. I then tried to paraphrase our two sides to the debate and so wrote,

ME: “As I see it: I believe the issue is whether arms are a protected right anymore. You believe the issue is determining how non-violent people can keep gun violence to a minimum. Am I close? I don’t think you’ll like what I said about you, but that’s the softest way I could come up with quickly.”

In my attempt to paraphrase his side, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the oxymoron which I couldn’t help but include in the phrase “non-violent people can keep gun violence to a minimum.” I chuckled because how in the hell does a non-violent person commit violence?

And yet, unlike all of you save one yesterday, he furthered the conversation and this other Pete wrote,

Other Pete: “‘You believe the issue is determining how non-violent people can keep gun violence to a minimum. Am I close?’

Yes… sort of. I’m convinced that the U.S. can reduce gun violence by serious federal legislation, which we have never really had (just minor dribs and drabs, mainly at the state level). Gun deaths and their frequencies (and styles) are increasing. The NRA option of ‘more guns’ is shameful and a total joke. We can reduce gun violence if we would only elect responsible politicians, who do not sleep with the NRA, to pass significant legislation. While I personally have no problem with repealing the 2nd Amendment, we can still keep that wretchedly worded thing, without ‘violating’ it, with the common-sense proposals espoused by organizations like the Brady Foundation and other gun control groups. And I’m behind ‘March for Our Lives’ all the way.”

Now, the only way I can make sense of his “Yes… sort of” is that this other Pete thought I meant that fellas like me and him (don’t forget to include yourself and your friends and family) are actually benevolent non-violent types capable of coming together to keep the gun violence to a minimum.

And in that moment, I again lost all hope for written conversation making any headway. Pete read what he wanted to read. And Pete read what he wanted to read.

So now I write what I want. Again. Still. Because Pete cannot be wrong.

You Don’t Want To Pull A Hammy

My favorite stretch happens to not involve the lower body, per se, but I think it stretches my lower back. It’s like a standing, twisting thing where I cross one leg over the other, but then turn my torso the opposite way. Usually I pull against the wall or something stable to really work out the rust. Anyhow, for a complete list of stretches and warm-up movements, here is a link to a pre-loaded google search.

As far as good shoes, here is a link to Zappos. They have free shipping and returns. If you have some available credit, the best way I’ve found to use the site is you order six or seven pairs of shoes at once, or different sizes of the same pair if you’re unsure (or say it’s a new brand), and then after they all arrive you just return the ones that don’t fit. No muss, no fuss. Here, I’ll conclude with the reminder that style is at least as important as comfort–let’s not kid ourselves.

Oh, and don’t forget to take some pictures. Like last time, you couldn’t pay me to join you.

I hope this helped. I wouldn’t want you to think you’re the only ones who care.

A Few Notes on Friends, Cultures, and Blogging through the Lens of the Gun Control Debate

I fear I may have driven one good friend away during my week of slandering the marchers. That’s no good. Time will tell. Here I want to happily prove that I miraculously still have one or two remaining friends, address some white/black cultural issues, and comment on the value of blogging as distinct from other forms of writing.

Remember my proposed Amendment XXVIII? Here it is again, “In time of peace, arms shall no longer be secured by the people.”

I still love it, but the sense I get is that most folks think it is quite ridiculous, if not totally immature, willfully ignorant, and completely impractical. While it’s always nice to be encouraged, I don’t find generality particularly beneficial for philosophical debate.

Out of the blue, however, one pal responded with, “What about new citizens? Your amendment doesn’t seem to account for them. Seems like you’d be fine with them securing arms during peace time.”

Two things should be readily apparent by that rejoinder. First, you couldn’t know this, but he responded within, oh, less than a few seconds. To note this is important to me because at the seminary the word “smart” is passed around and desired as if a mantle of holiness. It isn’t. And frankly, I cannot get anyone, professor or student, to coherently describe what they mean by “smart.”

Sidebar: I recognize only two traits of the mind. Speed and retention. Some people think faster, and some people retain more, but I have yet to meet someone who is smart. Consequently, then, my friend demonstrated that he is at least a fast thinker. I like to think I, too, possess a mind which is je ne sais quoi, rapido? and that that’s why we’re friends. Who knows?

Second, his particular reply–unlike general criticisms and/or silent anger–demonstrates that he respects me enough to consider my idea. This feels good.

In addition to this, I think I have just today gained some clarity regarding what drives my posts of late, the ones wherein I cry out for the remnant of living souls who know what we have accomplished in the United States to speak up before it’s too late.

You see, I have purposefully been engaging with other cultures. What can I say? I like to learn. While we’re all Americans, we are definitely not all the same culture. And I now see that my reactionary writing (such as the last joint movie review) is likely the manifestation of my own culture gasping for air.

Here’s the thing. Both cultures which I interact with, while I maintain that I am not fully a member of either (White Evangelicals and the Black Community), both of them believe in the Word of God in the dual senses of “…bread alone but every word that comes out of the mouth of God” and “…and the Word became flesh.” However, I reject the White Evangelicals because they preach that the Bible supports that mathematical truth is God’s truth. (Nowhere in scripture does any writer indicate that the LORD cares if one plus one equals two.) And I struggle with the Black Community because they preach that the Bible supports the notion that extra-biblical knowledge has no value. (These are sweeping generalizations. Rest assured, more are on the way. Rerax! It’s a blog post.)

By my thinking, the only important thing, the thing that the Bible explicitly states over and over again, is that there is a difference between the two. It’s not that man’s knowledge isn’t important, it’s just that it can’t possibly all be the LORD’s knowledge. There must be two types. And, point of fact, the word “holy” itself is just the church-ified version of the word “separate.” Again, the Word of God says that there are two types. Just don’t unify the two and you’re fine. (Seriously, don’t.)

The real question is how to get the White Evangelicals to stop insisting Christianity is the “smart choice,” and how to get the Black Community to care about math. As for me, I’m the smartypants who uses google for algebra problems. Bet the Arabs didn’t see that coming!

This takes me to blogging.

For me, it is holy catharsis. How about for you?

My Way

Nearly three years ago I applied for and was accepted into a 78-credit hour Masters of Divinity in Theology program. I later attempted to reduce my workload and transferred into the more reasonable 50-credit hour Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies degree. I am now out of quarters, as they say, and have decided to cut my losses. I will leave with the 24-credit hour Graduate Certificate in Biblical and Theological Studies to show for my efforts. I have 56 credit hours total, but stubbornly and, I believe, biblically, I refused to complete the required thesis and thus forego the actual graduate degree.

24 of the other 32 hours I passed were in ancient languages. When it comes to scholarship, I prefer word study to anything else. How precisely do words work? Answering that is endlessly fascinating to me.

Anyhow.

I confess that I would have loved to see future bio’s read, “Pete earned his Master’s of Divinity…” or hear, “…Pete comes to us having earned his Master’s…” But I had to do things my way. The truth is that I think the theological and biblical higher education degrees are the paper equivalent of bullshit. There. I said it.

First of all, any title that can generically cover studies in several religions are misleading from the beginning. Divinity? Who’s soul has divinity saved? You know the answer is, “No one’s,” and you don’t have a degree in Divinity. Amazing!

Secondly, the Bible is full of very intelligible words. Words like mountain, rock, rain, serpent, turn, and blood. Unity is another one. By my thinking, if we are not in unity as Christians, it often means we’re simply off topic. Let’s admit it. For Christians, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only topic. See for yourself if you doubt me. In any case, talk about it. Reconciling evolution with creation is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you enjoy engaging in that type of mental gymnastic and know others who do too, by all means talk about it. If you lose friends over it, don’t talk about it; skip it like you would a difficult crossword puzzle. Keep the unity.

Thirdly, if I ran a seminary today, to accurately communicate to the fallen world what I was doing, I would confer to graduates only one degree: a Masters of Power. And I definitely would not recommend anyone enroll at my school. Can you imagine someone claiming to have earned a degree in power? And how could power be taught by books? What a joke he’d be. My first question to the new man-of-letters would be, “Which power, exactly? The wind? Heat? Speed? Darkness? Light? Forgiveness? Love? Make an actual claim, man!”

As it is, “Masters of Divinity” or “MA in Theology” plays only on a bygone era’s final unbroken string and merely reassures church-goers that they don’t need to read their Bible for themselves. Divinity and Theology are so general that their teaching solely requires that the institution’s curriculum be limited to trending positive ideas. But the Masters of Power degree, my way, would necessarily demand further specification. And instead of reassuring church-goers that they’re not being duped by some hack with a Bible, it would be an excellent metric by which to measure the preacher. Is he preaching that there’s power in some book? Power in some culture? Power in guilt and remorse? Or is he preaching that there is power in the Blood of Jesus? Power in the Word of God? Power in repentance? Power in holiness? Surely we all possess the mental faculties to discern the difference between these things.

Here me clearly: Jesus Christ is Lord of all. He holds all power. The adversary, the great serpent of old is defeated. This is good news. If someone let’s you know they disagree with this, thank them for their honesty and then pray that the Holy Spirit uses you to reveal Christ to them. When answering questions (they will have them) stick to Scripture and the spirit of Scripture. Think of yourself as the translator. You know their vocabulary and you know the Word of God. Be the friend they need. Feed them. In doing so, you’ll help them see the good news that they are already free.

Ideas, Ideas

I am nearing a fairly big transition in life. I’ll be finished taking courses and moving on to whatever comes next. But I must confess, besides conversation, I do love thinking. As most of you witnessed, these shootings and our apparently resultant inability to calmly discuss them have set my mind ablaze. One conclusion I have drawn is that perhaps books are the way forward. If we need time to calm down, perhaps we can put our thoughts on paper, and then share them with each other and let each other digest them at our own pace. Perhaps.

My book will be called, “In Time of Peace: How Splitting the Atom Erased the Founder’s Words.” Or some such thing which explores whether my hunch is right that those men lived in a world with a different sense of up and down.

But I have other ideas too. What I don’t have is time to research them all. So, I want to share them with you and see if I get any bites. Of the following topics which intrigue me, do you any find intriguing?

First up – I do not believe the Hebrew or Greek texts of the Bible use any symbols whatsoever. It is generally accepted that they do not have punctuation. It is accepted that they do not contain arabic numerals–that’s seven hundred years later. But they also do not contain Hebrew or Greek numerals either when they mention numbers (IE – they always spell out the word o-n-e, and never put 1 or I or the equivalent). But in the Greek, there is a subscript iota on some omegas, which most scholars do not care to suggest was vocalized. I propose that the omega with the subscript iota was, in fact, uniquely vocalized, and not just in the Bible of course, but in all the written Greek texts of that era–but I need to do more research. (My overall point is that I believe the entire Bible was spoken out loud and that we can confirm this fact by demonstrating that the way the written languages worked back then–different from English today–was to try to capture the sounds with ink. (IE – We don’t vocalize punctuation–well Victor Borge does.) Maybe this one is just me. But I’ve long wondered, as I’ve heard many of you wonder, why everything happened back when it happened and I think I’ve stumbled upon one way to satisfactorily answer that curiosity.)

Next – I have a research comedy in me. I want to admit that I know nothing about women and that this bothers me. So, instead of getting to know you all in person, I devise a plan to use all my newfound library skills to research what “women” are by analyzing how they are represented in the best sellers of the years 2012-2016. I’m thinking I’ll determine which are the 25 best selling books of those five years–regardless the genre–and then analyze the female characters’ speech, actions, and descriptions of them in order to see if I can figure you all out.

Next – I want to philosophically explore the effect of literacy on community. The more I’ve read, the more I’ve withdrawn. I am not the only one who’s been affected in a such a way by the written word. The disjoint comes when I admit that the Bible is really in favor of listening to those in my community as well as observing nature, so I feel like my reading is limiting what the LORD has to say to me. This is troubling.

One more – I have observed at my black church that they use the word “survive” a lot. At first I didn’t think anything of it, but as H- gets older, I kind of squirm in my seat when I hear the adults teach, “You’ve got to survive.” No one ever taught me to merely survive. They taught me to thrive. And to be frank, I’ve always loved the Air Force’s simple slogan, “Aim High.” So I think there is merit to using my cross-cultural experiences to draw out that cultures are different down to their core teachings. And I think that we whites need to listen better, because we do do some things better than other cultures, and yet, YET, the way forward is not simple, not by a long shot. (The answer I’ve received upon stating this difference is, “Well, you’re not black. It’s different for you than us.”) Even suggesting that I think whites do something better makes me sound bigoted–which I am not. But I do mean that teaching children to thrive is about something different than setting up false expectations. Ultimately, however, the only way to get there is together.

You in?

To My Christian Readers

Saints, ministers of the Gospel, I can imagine some of you are a bit disturbed by my attitude when it comes to the Marchers. Or maybe not. In any case, do not think that I have not considered it. To keep it brief, here is my defense.

****

Picking up in the middle of Elijah’s speech found in first Kings chapter eighteen we find:

“‘…Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, He is God.’

And all the people said, ‘That is good idea.’

So Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, ‘Choose one ox for yourselves and prepare it first for you are many, and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.’

Then they took the ox which was given them and they prepared it and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon saying, ‘O Baal, answer us.’

But there was no voice and no one answered. And they leaped about the altar which they made.

It came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, ‘Call out with loud voice, for he is god; either he is occupied or gone aside, or is on journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened.’

So they cried with loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them. When midday was past, they raved until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice; but there was no voice, no one answered, and no one paid attention.”

****

I’m Pete, not Elijah. But I do know how to read.

Sidebar: See the rest of the story if you think the LORD plays games when it comes to his name.

The Amendment

In my last two posts (three if you include the book review) I have done my best to indicate that while I disagree with you, I do hear what you’re saying. I’m now asking, do you hear me?

In a surprising turn of events for me, whereas I initially wanted to effectively smear your claim, I have instead concluded that at the root of your claim, you are calling for the law. This is a very reasonable claim, a very humane claim. But there is a problem with it.

You think these shootings, the school ones especially, evidence that we are living in a state of chaos–in some situation similar to that which is before the law–and you desire to do something about it.

However, the law is already here. We are not in a state of chaos in the United States of America. Several hundred, perhaps even one thousand people have broken the law in the last twenty years in ways that previously seemed unimaginable. This is new, yes, but it is not chaos.

Hear me now. These events do not indicate that we have returned to the state of nature. They do not even indicate that we are in a trajectory towards the return to the state of nature.

Do you hear me? I’m asking you to listen. I listened to you. It’s the least you can do.

The law is not determined by elections. You (meaning literally you, the person reading this, and not meaning the generic “anyone”), you cannot vote the law out or in.

What to do?

The only option you have is to amend the Constitution of the United States of America, and that is a very real option which I do believe we (you and I–folks who disagree) should examine through civil discourse. But I wonder if you even know how it is done? If you do not, then you definitely are in no position to accomplish this possibly desirable task.

I know you don’t want to hear this, but I say this is the only option you have because I believe that every other option is anarchy–a subversive dismantling of the law. And this dismantling is a step in the opposite direction of what you want if you really want to keep certain firearms out of the hands of civilians while in the hands of the warriors.

In pictures from the marches, I saw a sign which said, “America, the world is watching.”

Do you hear them?

If you amend the Constitution, then we follow the footsteps and stand on the shoulders of our founders and teach the watching world the law. If you pass any other legislation–any whatsoever–then we demonstrate that we do not value the law. This, again, is the opposite of what you have said you desire.

And this is the precise point of disagreement.

Do you hear me?

The amendment is the precise point because I am confused by why you think there is any other option. I will listen and read anything you have which you think will help me see your point more clearly. I want the shootings to stop as much as you do.

Do you hear me?

Your turn.