I like the conservative hawks who say we’re not fulfilling our mission as World Good Guy.
I do not like all the conflicting reports.
I feel embarrassed that I questioned Zelensky’s motives at the outset.
I hate it when otherwise honest people will bully their way through a conversation and say, “Whether or not it’s true, it’s helpful because it motivates” about things like the stupid Ghost of Kyiv or some Russian soldier body count.
Generally, we seem to be living in a time period where we have totally forgotten how to work with a liar. The way to do it is by his/their actions. Actions don’t lie.
I’m tired of hearing how “we” are trying to figure out what is in Putin’s mind.
I’m very tired of WWII comparisons. I’m not a child. I don’t need an analogy. And I’m pretty sure that there are tens, if not hundreds, of nuances to this invasion of Ukraine by Russia that make it fundamentally different than the invasion of Poland all those years ago.
I was worried about nuclear attack Sunday, but I’m not worried anymore. And that worries me.
I still believe, but haven’t taken the time to back it up with research, that Zelensky is nowhere close to George Washington. Or other great American generals. He has said some strong statements. But I’m not inspired to virtue by them. (And don’t tell me how rare GW is. That changes nothing about my point. My point is we’re only a few cities away from Zelensky’s speeches being pure propaganda.)
The thing I dislike most about LeBron James are the moments I can tell that he remembers he is on camera. His face changes. It’s uncomfortable to watch. I don’t recall Jordan ever letting on that he cared about the cameras. I think I’m talking about something related to focus. If you know what I’m referring to, then you know how I feel about the leaders of the West right now. They’re not behaving out of true belief. They’re believing that they’re participating in a “photo op”. Their vanity is on full display. “History will show we did the right thing,” their actions and speeches say. Give me a break. Walking out of a “zoom call” is not exactly a sit in. Or an assassination by mob.
I told a German friend who’d made some, imho, wild predictions about this week that I’d call him this Sunday if all his predictions were wrong. He said, “Feel free. I hope I am wrong.” I don’t think I will anymore.
I don’t know what it’s like to be a European watching this invasion.
I do know what it’s like to be an American watching this invasion. It feels like bombs and missiles really aren’t as powerful or lethal as movies would have us believe.
Enough about me. How about you? How we feelin’?
Christians can read Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel fruitfully, if we downgrade slightly Hegel’s “belief” in the State as “self-knowing” to a “for fun, guys, let’s contemplate what religion looks like to the State if the State, itself, was the perfect being. The highest being.” (You may want to bookmark this one. It’s odd enough that you’ll need time to think it through for yourself.)
This downgrade must be made by the Christian, because otherwise Hegel actually competes with Moses, John and the others behind the Bible. And as far as that competition would be concerned, Hegel obviously loses because he does not promise eternal life, like the Bible writer’s do.
But! But, subsequent to the downgrade, Hegel’s conception of the State as a “concrete, self-aware being” is intriguing and can be useful to our Christian labors. How, you ask? Here’s how.
I haven’t been able find a reason to join a church. I haven’t. As most of you know, I grew up in church, left when I left for college, then moved away to the AF and from Christianity, and then ended up at a Christian seminary in a master’s program. While there, and just before there, I joined a black church, but the cultural divide was so great that it really doesn’t count as being a church member. The situation would be more accurately described by saying that both the real church members and I merely filled the role of “safe, outside consultants”.
Well, I’ve got a family now; there’ll be a grand total of three, not two, kids here in a matter of days. And I have a fourth working out her salvation elsewhere. And I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, that I have the Holy Spirit in me, that all should be done for the glory of God, and so I want to continue down the Christian way. But I struggle with the church membership bit. And I know I’m not alone. We all struggle with it, Christians and non-believers. Why join a church?
Well, here’s where Hegel’s modified look at the State comes in. If the State were this perfect being, then necessarily in our belief-in-this-being’s-perfection, we’d naturally agree with his, the State’s, perfect judgement. And on the matter of church membership, the State would encourage it.
Why? Because in the behavior of citizens being members of the local church (no matter the particular denominations etc.) the citizens are essentially “buying into” or “leaning into” or “doubling down on” their belief in the State.
Now, Hegel never mentions what I’m about to, but by my thinking the following runs through his thinking like a vein.
The idea here in this post, the simplified, fruitful version if Hegel’s idea, is not more complicated than to say without strong activity in the small institutions of the State (nation) by citizens, the big or overall institution (the nation) cannot be made as good as it could be made. Of course, underscoring this concept—and hopefully made clear by the post title’s “One Christian Perspective”—is the belief that the church is more than just a “small institution by which to make perfect the State.” What Christian reads the Bible and thinks “Oh! I get it. It’s like what Hegel said!”? But to a man of action like myself, the fact that this type of thinking moves me up from the comfort of the couch is the important part.
Would it move you up from the couch, unchurched Christian? Love of nation as the reason to stick out the undesirable parts of church membership?
If so, don’t tell me in the comments. Instead, look for me and my “bleed on the flag to keep the stripes red” love of country in church this weekend.
I went to bed a bit unnerved. I had in mind a post which I would title, “War—At Least That’s The Rumor.” This was because everything in the news about the “full scale invasion” was seemingly based on “I heard it from a friend who, heard it from a friend who, heard it from another…”
Then I woke up and checked the news and still was not liking the tone, tenor, and lack of first-hand accounts. So I changed my tune. My post was now going to be a comparison of headlines from WW1 and WW2 opening days. The point being to show the stark contrast between what’s happening today (I believe to be a veritable blip) compared to actual war.
But then I found video which purported to be, and evidently was, a plane zooming overhead and dropping ordinance that explodes in due course below.
As a pilot, and as a former Air Force pilot, I couldn’t help but wonder what that pilot was thinking. Was he a true believer, like I was for my country? Or was he praying to his maker, “Forgive me, for I have sinned,” as he launched the weapon, under gunpoint?
We know that the pilots of Iraqi Air Force were not exactly interested to fly the night of our invasion of Iraq. The popular legend is many, if not all, defected as quick as their jet could fly. And I heard one USAF F-15 pilot tell the story of his shoot-down, very anti-climatic, and also relate that other Iraqis were shot down over the airport before they could get their landing gear up.
For me, there will always be a distinction between someone pressing a button in a remote location to launch missiles, and a pilot actually dropping bombs, when ascertaining the seriousness of the war/conflict. The distinction being: the pilot is already mobile. He could elect to not drop the bombs and instead “defect”.
So I want to know what the pilots are thinking.
But mostly, I’m just feeling confused. I will never mean to cause fear—far from it. But at this moment, I think it’s safe to say that this confusion wasn’t present two days ago. And it only slightly built last night after my bravado-filled prediction that cooler heads would prevail proved terribly naïve. And I must admit that this feeling of confusion itself is probably a sign that things are worse, than better. Again, not to cause fear, just to tell the truth.
Mind made up.
I am gonna stick with my training. “Step 1- Recognize the Problem.”
Problem- “I am unable to get clarity on the implications of the attack of Ukraine by formal Russian forces. The lack of clarity is driven by ignorance of the situation. ‘What about the 14,000 lives lost previously in some local fighting? How is this different?’ for example.”
“Step 2- Gather All the Data.”
I need to time for this step. We in the peanut gallery all do.
While we wait, I’ll conclude by saying this: I need to stop worrying about “what it means if…” Right now decisiveness on the battlefield is needed. If Ukraine is vitally important to us, let’s go win. Starting, like, yesterday. If Ukraine is not vitally important, then shame on them for not joining NATO sooner. The world could stand to learn a lesson about “choosing sides”. USA all the way.
The above image and caption is from the CDC site. https://www.cdc.gov/media/subtopic/images.htm
I could not emphasize enough that not one of you, nor I, can explain that caption.
If I break it down grammatically, like 8th grade sentence-diagramming, it says, “The particles contain cross-sections.”
What does that mean? Is there a problem when particles contain cross-sections?
Beyond this, “spherical extracellular viral”, and “through the viral genome”, and “seen as black dots” are also utterly unintelligible to me. To be clear, I’m saying that even after reading “seen as black dots,” it would be silly for me to say, “Oh, I see what you mean,” given that the entire image is black dots against a white backdrop.
COVID is black dots? Stop the press!! It’s all over my phone screen!
All this is on my mind partly because of that line I included in my recent “stupid” post about the stupidity of COVID illustrations, and partly because I’ve been listening to a podcast called “Closer To Truth” which is some sort of fun “X-Files”-feeling, state-of-physics-today (in layman’s terms) show. It generally accomplishes its purpose, but the other day one of the interviewees referred to an illustration to make his point about multiverses and the size of everything. This use of illustration to explain truth, then, triggered me again.
The simple fact is using illustrations to convey truth bothers me.
A little backstory: Before modern script writing, like alphabets and even syllabaries before them, man often used something like emoji’s to communicate across great distance, time or space. We might call them pictograms or hieroglyphs. And when it came to numbers, some cultures used certain animals to express differences between say hundreds, thousands, and whatever they thought (but couldn’t utter) was bigger than thousands. A cow might mean hundreds, a frog, thousands, and an infamous one to express the largest amount was a stick figure of a man apparently examining the grandness of the starry night with open arms. To our eyes and ears and minds, this fact—this use of pictograms by our ancestors—is intriguing at best, and downright embarrassing at worst. But here we are again, using artist’s renditions to explain “truth”.
So what should happen instead? Here’s an example. If you’re tempted to ask, “Is there a multiverse?” The person you’re asking should say, “That’s the wrong question.” (The physicists would admit that.) The right question is, “Will our children think the idea of a universe is a quaint, but obsolete understanding of things, in the category of earth-as-center?”
And my point here is not physics, but reasoning, dignity in fact, so I need to say that if my children are going to think in terms of multiverse, they’d be fools for doing so because of illustrations. This is no different than how I believe you’re foolish if any part of your atheism or belief in evolution comes from the illustrated sequence of a monkey gradually standing upright.
Same goes for COVID. Is there a new virus or illness or health issue on Earth? Whatever our opinion, we’d be foolish if we based it on an illustration.
Another example of getting at truth properly: I knew I could be a pilot because I saw planes fly.
And another (negatively): Not one writer of the Bible uses an illustration—whether clay, or ink, or tapestry—to persuade either their contemporary audience or us.
I must insist on decrying the use of illustration when it comes to truth because, interestingly enough, the experts keep using it. At its root, an illustration can only ever be truth in the sense that the illustration commissioner, upon reviewing the piece, says, “That’s exactly what’s in my mind.” That the illustration matches his imagination can be true, but that does not move the argument along. The further—and necessary—step of “…and what’s in my mind is truth,” is not contained in or advanced by the truth that the illustration matches the mind. The man behind the imagination still has work to do. The truth debate is between individuals. Talk to me. Use your words. I’ll listen.
Don’t be fooled, folks. If someone pulls out an illustration to answer your truth question, still or motion, assert your manhood or womanhood; give yourself dignity and ask them to use their words.
The first post on this blog was in 2013. As most bloggers can surely relate, that post felt very exciting. It felt like I was about to contribute. And not just in a small way either—this was the big time. My words were going to give other people meaning.
The excitement that I felt that day nearly nine years ago wore off pretty quick. But I still love blogging. Here’s why.
Yesterday, after reading some of the book of Genesis, the book of Beginnings, from the Bible, I was frustrated that I knew hardly anyone who could keep up in a conversation about the actual words of the text. Plenty of people like to talk about what they believe and what their church believes, etc. But it’s a different thing to find someone who can remain centered on the text itself.
So I posted a fantasy conversation. I just took a minute to befriend myself and imagine what I thought a good conversation would be like.
The conversation ultimately centers on the Bible’s very own version “Which came first, chicken or egg?”
And here’s the point. Because I blog, because I took the time to flesh out my little fantasy, I came to a pretty cool little realization. While I was wrapping my mind about how someone could know he’s been fathered by one particular father, how could that person not know his father’s name, I now see that I had set the stage for me seeing that this conundrum is one of the primary claims of Christianity.
Regarding Moses, Yahweh was always there. But Moses hadn’t met Yahweh, or put differently, there was a time in Moses’ life before Yahweh had introduced himself to Moses. This introduction is the precise moment where words in the atmosphere, ink on a page, crossover into reality.
The question about how Moses could know he was an Israelite, but not know his own god’s name, is not more than chicken and the egg.
But this simple way of analyzing the problem doesn’t resolve anything, mind you. Yet it does bring things to a clean head. Christians often say they have met their maker. “That’s when I met Jesus”, or something similar. They claim they know—with certainty—the chicken came first. But for you, o undecided one, or egg-firster, the problem remains. Is your maker out there, trying to get your attention? I don’t mean your natural father, I mean the one that gave us “life”. I don’t mean animation, I mean, joy, sorrow, passion, desire, personality, you know, our life. Could you imagine that he is out there, this maker? And his interest is to make his introduction, with a follow-on goal of giving you eternal life?
This introduction and this eternal life are certainties that do not necessitate the end of uncertainties. My own ability to know the chicken came first and yet still ask, “But how did the chicken get there?” is proof enough of these unending uncertainties.
In the end, I just wanted to share that after nearly a decade, I still love blogging. More than that I love life. And I am glad to believe that I have received the promise of eternal life from Jesus. Let’s keep the good time’s rolling.
“So it’s campfire story until after Moses dies?”
“So Moses is telling the story of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and then Noah, and then Abraham, and eventually Jacob and Joseph?”
“You got it.”
“So is Moses somehow ‘read into’ a version of scripture as a young boy, like an already begun tale, or is he passing down something later related to him, perhaps by Yahweh Himself?”
“Interesting question. What brings it to mind, if I may ask?”
“Well, in early books of the Bible, books authored by Moses, books written before Moses learns God’s name on Sinai, characters use that name in speech. For example, Abraham talks to the king of Sodom and says, ‘I have raised my hand to Yahweh God Most High…’”
“So, my real question is, ‘Is Moses telling us the truth that Abraham actually uttered the name “Yahweh”—which would mean it was then lost by the time Moses had to ask—or, is Moses helping the story along, and keeping it particular because he, Moses, knows that Abraham meant the god “Yahweh” whatever he, Abraham, actually uttered in that moment?’”
“Ah. I think I see your point. Quick clarifying question. What difference would it make if Abraham uttered ‘Yahweh’ vs. Moses only saying that Abraham uttered it?”
“Well, doesn’t that make Moses a liar? I mean, how can he say something happened that he knows did not happen?”
“What do you think? Is there any way that scripture holds integrity here? You’ve painted a pretty stark picture.”
“I guess I could zoom out a bit and say the point of scripture is not to get Abraham’s exact words correct, but to reveal who Yahweh is.”
“Seems a bit too loose.”
“Maybe I could say that it must be that the name Yahweh was lost by the time Moses was on Sinai?”
“Seems like you don’t actually believe that.”
“Maybe Moses didn’t really write it as tradition holds?”
“Jesus seemed to think he did.”
“Good point. Hmm. So Moses knows he’s a member of Israel, and knows this before the burning bush, because that’s the whole point. His people were already a “people” in their own eyes, that’s how they were enslaved. Then it’s got to be some kind of more immediate need on Sinai when he asked, than Moses inserting it into Abraham’s speech falsely. And that would, or but that would also mean that Moses is passing on an inherited tradition—which is now not that unlikely because the story is definitely that they were enslaved according to their tribe.”
“But this still leaves what problem?”
“It leaves the problem of ‘If Moses is passing on inherited stories, why did Moses have to ask Yahweh what his name was? Shouldn’t he and all the people fresh off the Exodus have known?’”
“Precisely. But let’s ask it this way, ‘Would the people who were already creating an idol while Moses was up on Sinai have known Yahweh?’”
“Good point. And yet someone had to have told Moses.”
“Had to have. Or else Moses, as author of Genesis, must be lying.”
“But he can’t be lying.”
“But he can’t be lying, that’s right.”
“What do you think?”
“I think what I normally think.”
You want to know what’s stupid? Using visual aids or graphics to describe COVID-19.
You want to know what’s stupid? Boosted pro-vaxxers, who finally got it and now say, “This time everyone’s gonna get this s—-!”
You want to know what’s stupid? Self-policing mask usage/fit.
You want to know what’s stupid? Children declaring that they don’t want to get “COVID”.
You want to know what’s stupid? Adults feeling ashamed for getting COVID.
You want to know what’s stupid? Variants.
You want to know what’s stupider? Sub-variants.
You want to know what’s stupid? Saying “He/she/they died of COVID.”
You want to know what’s stupid? Fearing death.
You want to know what’s stupid? Fear.
You want to know what’s stupid? Pandemics.
You want to know what’s stupid? Buying and using a home test whose result you know isn’t going to be definitive in your eyes.
You want to know what’s stupid? Signs above sinks that read, “Wash your hands for 20 secs.”
You want to know what’s stupid? Using your eyes to read a test to discover if you feel sick in your body.
You want to know what’s stupid? Using short animated videos to explain/defend/justify the need to lockdown.
You want to know what’s stupid? Bubbles.
You want to know what’s stupid? Worrying.
You want to know what’s stupid? Telling a child to worry.
You want to know what’s stupid? Mankind testing animals for COVID.
You want to know what’s stupid? Restricting travel during a pandemic.
You want to know what’s stupid? Runs on toilet paper.
You want to know what’s stupid? Emails explaining COVID plans that may change.
You want to know what’s stupid? Feeling like you can (and should) do something to help during a pandemic—like explaining things in emails.
You want to know what’s stupid? Email pronouncements that describe the last two years without using the word “stupid”.
This hasn’t been interesting, strange, complicated, challenging, scary, wild, or any other of the many safe-for-work adjectives.
Lemme tell ya what’s stupid. The last two years—that’s what.
The Twin Cities have announced that January 19th begins a new rule for restaurants. On that day you gotta provide proof of vaccination or negative test from last 72 hrs in order to receive service.
It’s being decreed by Mayors, as it is only for the two cities (and mayors are kings of political units called “cities”…)
So now what? Who do the folks affected seek relief from? Another government official? Say, the governor? I doubt that would result in the desired relief.
The politicians are backed by doctors.
So to whom do we petition as we seek relief?
Peter Drucker handily explains in his tome on management that the reason written, or even spoken, propaganda never actually works is that eventually people lose faith/ignore it. He suggests that there is just something inmate in us that recognizes the difference between experiences and false descriptions of experiences. “You’re happy! Believe me!”
I can tell you that even 6th grade boys know whether they really beat me in a game of basketball, or whether I threw it.
In any case, this new situation in the Twin Cities is just another example of the definitive reason we can’t stop talking about the pandemic. Who can be called upon to provide relief?
One of the ways a distant king garners direct power over his distant subjects is by offering and providing them protection and relief from their more immediately located feudal rulers and their policies. This “offering protection” doesn’t have to mean much more than “hearing constant petitions and seizing convenient opportunities to increase his power.” In other words, the low-level ruler, whether exercising legitimate or illegitimate power, does it poorly and so creates a need for relief in his subject. The subject petitions the far away king and the rest falls into place. The king gains loyal subjects until he has enough to clearly have real power, while, at most, the low-level ruler continues to rule in name only. (And at worst, war precedes lasting peace.)
Hold that thought for a second and follow me from kings to doctors.
Who among us hasn’t been fed the idea that going to the doctor is a good thing for our entire lives? We may not have wanted to go sometimes, but that wasn’t because we didn’t believe in the doctors ability, it was because being ill clouds judgement.
From the earliest times, our parents may have helped us through minor illness or trauma, like a fever or a scraped knee. But there was always a possibility that we would need to go to see the doctor. Hear me carefully here: once we hit a certain circumstantial threshold, the doctor was the only solution. So if one doctor couldn’t help, there was no other solution, just a more specialized doctor. It wasn’t ever, “I can’t help ya, let’s get you to a lawyer (or a plumber, or a pilot).”
From another angle, if you have ever needed legal help, you were advised by all to see a lawyer and eventually went to a lawyer. And if the first lawyer proved incompetent, then you went to a better lawyer etc.
But when you’re with the best lawyer and about to win whatever the dispute is, if in that moment you get sick enough, then you enter the doctor realm and remain there. A failed doctor visit only leads to a different doctor, not a visit to a different profession. Again, once certain situations unfold, you never leave the doctor realm.
And another angle: if you need to travel, you call up a pilot, or some specialist delegated by the pilot, to book a flight. But while on that flight, if you get sick, you are diverted to the doctor—and at no point will you, in the process of solving the sickness problem, be diverted to anything other than doctors.
Put plainly, we all have been living, pre-pandemic and now, under the belief that doctors-as-problem-solvers were meaningfully all-powerful.
And the trouble with this can be made clear with the analogy to kings gaining power. Serfs and others needed protection or relief in a way that they couldn’t achieve from their direct rulers, so they went to the next level up. They eventually went to what had to appear like an almost mythical character called a “king”. They brought, more than anything, hope to the king, hope that no matter how inept or unqualified he had proved to be thus far, that he would be able to help me now. The position itself, rather than the individual holding it, turned out to be the thing that mattered in many cases.
Fast forward to 2022 and even the “king” (POTUS) defers to the doctor when faced with a challenge.
The President defers to the doctor.
And that’s what makes the pandemic the most compelling conversation topic. The king didn’t provide relief. The pandemic is not over.
We serfs still have pressing problems.
Putting this all together, then, the definitive reason why the pandemic is the most compelling topic of conversation is we have no one, literally we don’t even have a position or concept of a position, to help us. In the analogy I’ve used, we are the serfs being harassed by the Lords. Who is our equivalent, distant king? Who can we write to? Who can we appeal to?
The definitive reason we can’t stop talking to each other about the pandemic is because it has made evident the lack of a relief valve/person/position.
We want relief. We know that. But to whom do we address the letter?
(For my Christian readers, surely Jesus is our deliverer. But He was still on the throne when the serfs petitioned the earthly kings of old, too. So I’m suggesting that even if all prayer was directed to Jesus, we still are not set up for earthly relief. Remember that even the Israelites appealed to their neighbors’ having kings when they asked for a king. It wasn’t like Yahweh is in the business if inventing political systems.)
And, for better or worse, this seems worth discussing.
Oooo. January 6th is tomorrow! The one year anniversary of… What? What exactly happened one year ago tomorrow?
As usual, while that’s a compelling question, it’s not the most pressing question. A better question is, “How many people died due to the events at the capital on January 6?” If you have time to spare, figure that answer out. The rest of the answers will fall into place.
But even that very specific, particular, and on some level should-be-simple, question is not the best question to ask right now. The problem we face is made evident by asking this, the best, question:
What do we do after determining we’re being told lies?
What do we do after lies?
Some people are quicker than others at recognizing lies. Other people lie with gusto. But that’s not the problem that faces us. The problem is, “What next?”
The problem that no one is directly addressing, but in priority needs address immediately, is, “So we’re being told lies. Fine. What next?”
Plug our ears? Blot out our eyes? Neither of those would seem to motivate the truth to come out.
Direct requests? As in, “Please stop lying.” Would that work?
Commanding language? As in, “STOP LYING!” Anyone think that would have the desired effect?
Maybe a shouting match? They lie, and we tell the truth, but a little bit louder, hoping to drown the lie out through force. Would we be wise to place hope in that strategy?
What do we do after lies? How can we know what to do? What method even helps with the choice? Is there an analogy or a small-scale example?
After being lied to in a relationship, friendship or romance, there is often a breakup or cooling off period at least. Accepted wisdom for those situations includes the need for “time” to be taken.
Fair enough. But what would “taking time” look like between a government and its citizens? Or even on a smaller scale, a group of leaders, say at a business, and its employees? Does anyone have any experience at that level? Initially, I want to say that “business” is measured by performance, so as long as the business can perform while on a “break to re-establish trust/truth” it could proceed.
But in volunteer organizations, it seems like wholesale change of personnel usually accompanies lies from leadership. Those caught lying have got to go.
The performance measurement of a nation is security. Security in business, security in home, security in diversions, security in economy, security in law, security in institutions, security in defense, security in contracts, security, security, security. Security = no questions. Security = I know what’s next. Security = predicability. Security = stability.
Are we any closer? What do we do after being lied to? What do we do while being lied to?
To stop paying attention isn’t a fix when it’s government officials.
To tell the truth louder isn’t a fix.
To ask them to stop isn’t a fix.
By process of elimination, the fix isn’t becoming any more clear.
This is why I say, the problem that faces us, the problem that the events at the capital on Jan 6, 2021 reveals, is made evident by the fact that there is no manifest answer to the question, “What do we do after lies?”