Tagged: Church

Review [Spoiler] of the New Avengers Movie and Biblical Critique of Your Newfound Love of Genealogy

Sobbing! You read that right. I’m telling you that the two women laid out in the theater seats beside mine were sobbing at various parts of the latest Avengers movie. Sobbing.

A few reasons this is odd include: they were middle-aged adults or older, they were the only ones I could hear performing this sonorous swan sonnet out of the entire theater (and I’m sure others could hear them too) and this was at an eleven thirty showing–eleven thirty in the morning–on a Monday! On. A. Monday.

Dear, faithful reader: you might be wondering, “What would you have them do, Pete? It was probably sad.”

My response? It was sad. Kinda. And I would have them stop sobbing. It was maybe a single and silent tear sad, not sobbing uncontrollably sad. And if they couldn’t stop from sheer self-control, I’d suggest to these sheez that they simply utter aloud the sobriquet of the superhero who died, as in, “Black Widow just died.”

Yep. The feeling accompanying that sentence should do it.

Secondly, for tonight, I want to call to your attention the wildly un-biblical hobby that is sweeping through Christendom–most aggressively through the Black Church’s iterations–in recent times: Genealogies. Stop. Just stop. Those of you engaging in this research are suckers. Worse, you are insulting all blood-redeemed sinners who read their Bibles, and worse-est, you’re actively undoing the work of Jesus the Christ–not for our lives, but for yours.

For your consideration, answer the following questions honestly:

  1. What is your intention in your quest to learn about your family-line?
  2. What possible, and/or relevant, good can come from knowing which blood-line you carry in your flesh?
  3. Moreover, what exactly did Paul mean by the following words: “all”, “sons”, “neither”, “one”, “descendants”, and “heirs”, when he wrote, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise”?
  4. And in this passage, what did Paul mean by the following words: “brethren”, “all”, “agree”, “no”, “divisions”, and “same”, when he wrote, “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment”?

Perishing non-believers do not respect unfocused belief–in anything.

So, Christians: Focus. And focus on Christ.

On Pain, Fear, Bravery, and Time

Last post, I wrote that I believe I am an expert on defense and gave some advice on the subject due to my feeling that there is a sharp rise in falsehoods with President Trump’s election. This post is additional defense advice. Bluntly, I am going to teach you how to be brave.

Many of you know that at the end of my time at the seminary I was fortunate to purchase the full set of Britannica’s Great Books of the Western World. I have slowly but steadily been reading through the set since last summer. I am officially on book five, having skipped the two “Synopticon” volumes.

In short, I am still in the (Trojan War-centered) plays of Greek Antiquity, though through Homer and Aeschylus. One line from Sophocles’ Trachiniae furnished unto me the motivation for this post. 

(These plays are always filled with great tragedy and accordingly the line is thus:)

“Which woe shall I bewail first, which misery is the greater? Alas, ’tis hard for me to tell. One sorrow may be seen in the house; for one we wait with foreboding: and suspense hath a kinship with pain.”

“…and suspense hath a kinship with pain.” That’s the part that leapt off the page.

When H-‘s mom and I were in lamaze class, the nurse leading the class informed the mothers (and fathers) of the relationship between pain, fear, and time. Apparently, we learned, part of labor pains–and fear of labor pains–in first-time mothers is simply created by some admixture of fear of the unknown, and the fact that the moments and duration of the pain are unpredictable and do not bend to the patterns of the clock. But if the new mother knows this, then supposedly her fears will be abated and the concordant pain lessened. At least that’s the theory.

H- is about to turn nine.

Although I have a bachelors degree and three years of graduate study under my belt, it fascinates me that only now do I read something which renders modernity’s lamaze class ineffectual.

“…and suspense hath a kinship with pain.”

But this got me thinking. I’m brave. I mean, I flew planes and helicopters. I even flew helicopters into combat. How does that work? Why didn’t I fear? Why didn’t the unknown cause me to tremble? Why didn’t the suspense, the waiting, cause me to fear like the new mother?

Then, as a Christian, I also got to thinking about the bible writers’ thoughts on fear, which range from “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” to “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?

Why was David able to live without fear? Why was I able to be brave? The answer is found in righteousness. The answer is found in walking according to the law of the LORD, that is, the law of Christ.

While I served in the Air Force, I had no fear because we knew we were on the side of truth. We studied long and we trained hard. We assessed our capabilities and limitations astutely and without embellishment. Then we imposed our will on evil men who slept under the false security blanket of darkness.

Now, as a Christian, I see how the LORD and his son Jesus the Christ have ordered our steps. Do you see it?

When I walk in love, I do not fear. The result is predictable and immediate: blessing.

When I walk in joy, I do not fear. The result is predictable and immediate: blessing.

When I walk in peace, I do not fear. The result is, again, predictable and immediate: blessing.

When I walk in patience, I do not fear.

And on and on. When I walk in kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, I do not fear.

I do not fear. I am brave.

Or as David put it so long ago, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?”

From the ancient Greek poets down to registered nurses of our day, those with eyes to see have observed that there is a time element to fear and pain. But fearlessness isn’t bestowed in the hospitals or in the theaters. It is found in the Word of God. It is given by the LORD; it comes from walking with the Holy Spirit.

Parents: Take Action And Join This Friday’s Youth Climate Strikes

To be clear, this is not my attempt to re-frame the “narrative” of climate change. Neither am I going to give you a new “lens” through which to view climate change.

In the below you will not find scientific facts or debates as to whether teenagers have power. You also will not find prophecies about the future. Lastly, you will not find any black-and-white distinctions between the meanings of “hope” and “action.”

No, this is simply one man’s declaration that the parents of youth-who-skip-school-March-15th-in-order-to-attend-the-Youth-Climate-Strike-rally must join their offspring at the rallies. Parents, you must join your children. Do it. (H- is only 8, so this plan isn’t for me. But you can be sure I’d execute it flawlessly if she was going.)

It strikes me as more than likely that many parents might not know their kids’ intentions regarding such things, so your first step is to ask them if they’re going. If you are lucky enough to have a child who asks if they can go, say, “Sure.”

Next, tonight or tomorrow night, here’s what you do. You make a sign. On this sign, write, “My daughter, my son, I love you. Come home.” Of course, when it comes to rally signs, the BIGGER and BOLDER the lettering, the better. So try, “MY DAUGHTER, MY SON, I LOVE YOU. COME HOME.” Yep, that’s better.

Then, whether you drive with them, drop them off, whether you walk, bus, bike, or have separate travel arrangements entirely, take off from your job and go to the rally. Here is the map.

Here’s where it gets tricky, but I trust you’ll sense the proper course of action. Position yourself so as to be seen by as many people as possible, and root yourself there. Now hold up your sign.

Clarification: It is imperative that you do not write your child’s name on the sign. You have a small window of opportunity here. Don’t waste it. There’s a physicality to “parenting” that most of you miss. Make your son(s) or daughter(s) incline their neck to find you.

When they do find you, hug them tightly–as tight as you can.

At home, it’s time for baby steps. I do not believe in trying something new like “conversation” at this point. Instead, read to them. Pick one of your favorite books. Tell them why you like it. Then begin to read the book aloud to them. Maybe just the first chapter, maybe more. No earbuds, no phone, no tablet, no youtubers, no nothin’. Beseech them to just sit in the same room for a while and listen.

Hopefully your reading voice isn’t too out of practice and hopefully you like good books.

But, then, I know you do. Good luck.

LGBTQ Showdown: Rockstar James Hetfield vs. Reverend Adam Hamilton

Metallica broke attendance records in both Wichita and Kansas City last week. As most of you know, H- and I were at the Kansas City show.

During the concert, as usual, James took a moment to thank the audience. He then said something like, “I want you know that I don’t care who you are, what god you worship, or what is between your legs. I do not give a shit.” For the uninitiated, this is about as political or current-eventee as Metallica ever gets. (Thank you, Jesus.) It’s about the music, people.

Last week also was a big week for the United Methodist Church as their conference had voted to essentially fire Ministers if any of them subsequently ordained LGBTQ folks or performed marriages between anyone but one man and one woman.

Reverend Adam Hamilton, pastor of the largest UMC congregation–located in KC–in America, voted against this change and spent many hours last week explaining his reasons to his congregation. For our purposes, it is enough to say that he has declared that the LGBTQ community is still welcome at his church while the UMC figures itself out.

Why the comparison between Mr. Hetfield and Rev. Hamilton?

Here’s why.

I recently told one friend that I am uncomfortable at almost every group setting I attend. I am uncomfortable at my church (it’s a black church–I am as white-bread as it gets). I am uncomfortable at most of the other churches I have visited (I prefer African churches, even if they’re in another language, but I usually visit churches from different cultures if I skip my service as I nearly reject my culture outright–I am as white-bread as it gets). I am uncomfortable at work (I work with what other white-breaders call ‘low-skilled immigrants’ and if my co-workers aren’t immigrants they are usually addicts, ex-cons, uneducated, or family members of one of the above).

My friend then queried, “Where are you comfortable?”

After a long pause I answered, “Ha. Truth be told? Metallica concerts. That’s when I feel like I can simply let go and be me.”

Rockstar James Hetfield would probably enjoy hearing this fact. And Reverend Adam Hamilton would probably be thrilled for the chance to compare notes with James and see what he could learn from him about creating a welcoming environment.

The trouble, of course, is there is one big difference between the Christian church and Metallica concerts. Can you name it? I’ll help. The one are entertainment. The other believes this world is going to burn. The one are fun. The other believes the shedding of Jesus’ blood altered the course of history. The one are going to end in less than fifty years. The other, with or without you, is never going to end. (Hallelujah.)

Can we tell the truth? It goes like this, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Are LGBTQ folks welcome in the Christian church? Before I could ever answer, I’d need to hear what their intentions are.

But if you’re looking for comfort, I’d try to catch the next Metallica concert.

“Enter Metallica With H-” Begins In Six Hours

Well, technically we’ll be on the road to the Sprint Center in three hours-ish. (We drove here from Denver yesterday–8 hours.)

Here’s a conversation that will set the scene.

I asked a lady I work with, “So everyone keeps responding, ‘You are taking your daughter to Metallica?!’ I cannot tell if they are questioning my taking a near-nine year old to Metallica, or if they are in disbelief that I, Pete, would enjoy Metallica. Which do you think they mean?”

She laughed hard and said, “I think they’re surprised that you like Metallica.”

I’m kinda embarrassed by that fact. I don’t just like them, I love them. And tonight I get to share them with my progeny. From the moment H- was born, if not the moment she was conceived, I plotted the course that would have to happen for this night to occur. I knew they’d be in their fifties. I was hoping she’d be ten. But we’re close enough.

This past Saturday my own little future-Joan-of-Arc said, “So tomorrow we have church and then packing for Metallica?”

Yes indeed. \m/

I Won’t Believe in “Narratives”

The N-word of the past had a characteristic that rendered it far more powerful than the one I call to your attention in this post. Unlike the bygone racial slur, the word-of-our-day, ‘narrative’ only finds usage among the over-educated and self-indulgent. Once the word is spoken aloud, however, the conversation usually cannot draw to a close without hearing its utterance many more times. This is the natural course of such buzzwords and catchphrases.

Not the repetitive feature, but rather the earnestness of the speaker or writer is what has drawn me out from my place of silent repose. These redundant commentators seem to believe that if they can simply make everyone see that the liberals, whether lead by AOC or Jussie Smollet, all have one narrative, and that they stick to it closer than stink to a pig, then, “POOF!” the world changes for the better.

Conversely, professed fanboy Michael Cohen’s opening statement caused me to wonder if I had fallen off the mobster-movie-watching wagon. Would his testimony have even been coherent without the resounding success of The Godfather? Put another way, does the snowflake generation even understand what a fixer is?

Will I admit that there does seem to be several different and conflicting scripts or “narratives” running through our voices currently? Sure. Will I admit that people like Ben Shapiro know more than I do from first-hand experience within meeting rooms that the media bosses have intentional “narratives” that they use to sell more advertisements than others? Yes. But I still won’t believe in “narratives” or what’s worse, try to advance my own.

Instead, I will believe in words. Check these words out. I had finished up the Bible’s book Jeremiah the other day, had felt totally unsure of how he got started, and so I decided to begin it again.  Here are some of the words I found powerful, in no particular order. Serve. Whore. Green. High. Every. You.

Yeah. Those are some powerful words.

Ordered as the Living God so willed, and spoken through Jeremiah, they go, “But you said, ‘I will not serve!’ For on every high hill and under every green tree you have bowed down like a whore.”

No “Poof!” here. More like, “uh, is this still safe for work?” Probably not. But I believe that the same thing Jeremiah called attention to way-back-when happens today. And we cannot soften it or call the guilty to account by merely suggesting that they are mouthpieces for some distant, conspiratorially-crafted narrative.

There are many words from which to choose and in which to believe.

I won’t believe in “narratives.”

How To Silence Flat Earth Lunatics

Stephen Covey famously wrote, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” In the case of Flat Earth Lunatics, this sagacious suggestion falls flat on its face. In other words, I’m ashamed to admit that I cannot seem to win one single debate with FELs, despite putting the best success advice into practice.

If up until now you have avoided the pleasure of engaging an FEL, count your blessings. If not, then you will surely know my pain. I feel like I’m a fairly sharp cookie and yet I have always left the encounter a failure. So after much thought, and an even greater desire to not lose the day to these fellas, the following is the best I have come up with when it comes to silencing the recently mad.

Believe me when I say that, like you, I would have thought that, “Does your basement have a bathroom, or do you always have to use one of the one’s upstairs?” or, “A lifetime lived and still no friends?” or, “Okay, then where’s the end of the Earth?” would have had a much stronger affect on these folks. Unfortunately, experience proves that these approaches simply do not work. Regarding debate skills, it seems FEL’s might be the most potent group of lonely men in America.

(Before I pronounce the surefire strategy to silence them, I want to say one thing. When talking with one of these guys, my aim is no longer to win the argument. Instead, my desire is to simply bring them back from the edge. They have clearly been hurt, and I believe it is my duty–I believe it is our duty–to love on them until they release their stranglehold on sanity.)

The strategy is simple. It came to me while fabricating circuit boards at the A&D manufacturing factory where I work.

Step 1: ASK, “Can I ask you a question?” (Most FEL’s love to answer questions about their theory, so this will work flawlessly.)

Step 2: ASK, “Have you ever manufactured something, and then sold it for a profit?” (The outcome of uttering this question will be new and unexpected each and every time. Think ahead. It wouldn’t hurt to position yourself out of arm’s length beforehand.)

Step 3: ASK, “So what you’re asking me to believe is that the thousands upon thousands of people who manufacture and fabricate and test and assemble–not just the individual components of space-bound vehicles and satellites–but the materials of the buildings that shelter those people from the elements as they work, plus the materials that house the final products and their necessary rockets and all their parts and pieces, not to mention the specially designed railways, runways, and launchpads, and all their associated construction materials–including manpower–you’re asking me to believe that all of them operate apart from the otherwise observable influence of value?”

Step 4: SAY, “Noooo, I don’t have to answer your questions or explain anything to you. I have heard you and I have seen your animations. Now it is your turn. You said you would answer a question, so I asked one. Now answer it. Or don’t. But know that I love you and unlike people from your past, I am not giving up on you. I just don’t think you’ve thought through what you’re suggesting, and so I’ve now given you a very precise weak link to your theory that you need to answer in order for me to agree that I’ve been lied to my whole life.”

By my thinking, that should do the trick. They’ll have come across a question they can’t answer, and as they YouTube it, they should be able to imagine putting it into play against other FEL’s, which of course they’ll desire to do when they feel the joy of no longer disagreeing with everyone on the globe.

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.

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.

Review of mother! by Darren Aronofsky

Logan was the first movie I saw in the theater after one year away, over one year ago. Hoping to love it, I instead almost left the theater. Children being violently wounded on-screen? Shouldn’t there be a line?

Now with mother!, I feel like a bit of a hypocrite. It is a terrific film–but it puts the graphic, on-screen adult-on-child violence in Logan to shame in a way that I cannot yet reconcile.

Bluntly, Mr. Aronofsky’s motion picture is not for kids. But it is for adults, especially Christians.

Many of you know that I study ancient languages. In brief, you may be intrigued to learn that the naming conventions become tricky quickly. For example, you’ve likely heard of the Hebrew language. Maybe you’ve even heard that distinct from Modern Hebrew is Biblical Hebrew.

If you’re uncommonly interested in such things, you may be aware that within Biblical Hebrew there are designations for both Early and Late Biblical Hebrew–the difference being mostly related to vocabulary as opposed to grammar. Not surprisingly, Late Biblical Hebrew’s vocabulary shows influences from the surrounding culture’s languages. C’est la vie.

Most of you, however, will not know that there is something before Early Biblical Hebrew, that is clearly related to it, but which dates before it. The scholars who discuss this more ancient Hebrew variant call it Paleo-Hebrew.

See what’s going on?

This language is not exactly Hebrew, but it’s also not exactly a different language, nor dialect for that matter. It probably sounded like Early Biblical Hebrew, but the letters looked different. So to try and capture this complicated relationship, the prefix “paleo” is applied. (Sometimes it is also more simply labeled Old Hebrew.)

mother!, then, is likewise Mr. Aronofsky’s telling of, not the Bible’s story, but the Paleo-Bible’s story–except that there is no such thing, until now. And that is what makes the movie so phenomenal.

It has many of the elements of the Bible; for example, Father is the name of the creative storytelling poet who longs to be loved, and his newborn son is unintentionally killed by Father’s fanatical fans–who then eat the dead baby in some kind of cultic memorial ritual.

Oh boy.

I’m telling you too much. You’re not going to watch it.