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?
This post is an exercise in the time-honored tradition of trying to state the opposition’s point of view.
As for Saturday’s events, as far as I can determine, two main claims were repeatedly made.
- We need to end gun violence. (Sir Paul McCartney and Yolanda Renee King)
- We need to keep weapons of war out of the hands of civilians. (Delaney Tarr and Cameron Kasky)
Regarding ending gun violence: it is not possible for me to imagine how to un-invent something as prevalent as guns, so I’ll not spend time assessing this claim.
Regarding keeping weapons of war out of the hands of civilians: I can imagine that, and so I’ll do my best to get to the heart of their desire.
Certainly the claim needs much more specificity. Surely they don’t mean to include knives (carried and used by warriors to this day), just as they surely do not believe other weapons of war (nuclear bombs) are obtainable by civilians. I also do not believe they intend to keep revolvers or single-shot rifles out of the hands of civilians. Nor do I think they wish to keep pump-action shotguns or the like out of civilians’ hands. In short, I think I feel the pulse of the claim rightly when I say that they desire to keep away from civilians any gun that resembles an AR-15, with its incredibly powerful and quickly replaceable “banana” clip (or the “I-always-thought-that-was-a-handle” thing).
Put another way, at the risk of oversimplifying things to an unfeeling level, the opposition to the status quo wants to make sure the star shape is only placed into the star opening.
This seems sensible, and yet the trouble with this view is that through it the opposition to status quo shows that it has not taken into account two very pertinent facts.
First, make no mistake, these shootings–beginning with Columbine–if not earlier, are acts of war, and to win a war you do not disarm the good guys.
Second, this is not a war against flesh and blood. Until the opposition understands the power of the Gospel, the limitless power of grace, they are fighting for the losing side.
The LORD has never lost a battle and he is captain of every army.
My semester has ended. Over the course of it I wrote three papers. If you’d like to read any of them, just let me know and I’ll send ’em your way.
I called the first,
Exegetical Paper on Proverbs 1:1-16.
It was for a class on Biblical Hebrew, but is written in English. Though, I will warn you that many of the English words I had to use are essentially a foreign language. It includes sentences like, “Specifically, the many infinitives with which the book opens cause many to attempt to clarify just what exactly they mean and who exactly the audience is.” And this gem, “To begin, we read the names David, Solomon, and Israel.”
Now that I think of it, it’s probably best if you skip this one in favor of just reading that proverbial passage here.
Next, I wrote this doozy,
2 Samuel 6:12-23:
Side-by-Side Comparison of the 2006 Rahlfs-Hanhart Septuaginta Text with the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia Text, English Translations of the Same, and A Brief Treatment of the Discrepancies along with Several Resultant—and Short—Exegetical Considerations.
It’s probably my best work of the semester–including over 13 pages of handwritten Hebrew and Greek, and includes sentences like, “Given some of the BHS text’s morphemes’ ability to contain what later became several RH morphemes, a reckoning of additions to the BHS in the RH amounts to twenty-one morphemes (of the three hundred eighteen total) which cannot be accounted for by the preformatives, sufformatives, and direct object markers of the BHS text.”
As you can see for yourself, only about three people on the planet have the training required to read it–and two of them don’t care. So, again, the eternally better option is to just read the passage itself, which can be found here.
Thirdly, I wrote one which I called,
An Examination of an Early Passage of Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians in the Tradition of the Same Greeks from Whom the Apostle Paul Separated Himself
This one is by far the most important paper I wrote. It includes sentences like, “Against Paul’s elsewhere more clear rebuttals of the first two, being A. Torah as wisdom and 2. Docetism or Gnosticism, Corrington submits that what Paul is concerned with addressing here is the distinct notion that thirdly, wisdom itself was power.” And, “So, instead of that, Paul redirects his cessation sentiment and continues with indirect admonishing, and explains why they should not be with anyone except Christ.”
Again, you are much better off if you just click here to read the passage itself. Enjoy!
As I continue to share my summaries on my Septuagint (LXX) studies, I have come to realize how much I am assuming you know, and have concluded that that amount is too much.
First, this is my blog. I’m doing my best, but my aim is not much greater than sharing a curiosity of mine in an enjoyable way. Here are three books you need to read if you want to know more. Links to a certain, large online retailer are here, here, and here.
Now, let’s announce the problem. Well, it’s not a problem, it’s just life. I’ll just call it the intrigue. Here’s the intrigue. For protestants, our Old Testament is based on the Hebrew text known as the Masoretic Text. This text dates about one thousand years ago (all dates are debatable) to the 10th century A.D. Now, the Septuagint–the name for the Greek translations of the Hebrew Scriptures–is dated to 250 B.C. Naturally, that’s quite a bit earlier (1250 years). Everyone knows that the Septuagint is a translation. But we don’t have the text that it was translated from, so we call what we don’t have the parent text, or Vorlage (4-log-eyh if you’re cool). The Vorlage is what we hope to find. See the complexity?
Put another way, we have the translation (LXX) and know it is a translation–there is no dispute here at all. But we do not have the original (Vorlage). Then 1000 years later we have what is presumably the original, but cannot possibly be for at least 1000 reasons. And “no” the MT is not some weird and late translation of the LXX into Hebrew. The contents of the MT (Mastoretic Text) and LXX are close, but obviously not equivalent–no translation is. So what did the LXX translators have? That’s our question. Now you know.
To me, this is fascinating and enjoyable to pursue. Overall, though, it has nothing to do with blood. Ink on paper is not the blood of our Savior. Never forget this obvious truth.
The fact remains that in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead our heavenly Father “rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.“
I’m wearing down. I’ve been studying Hebrew nearly all day. I figure I have one more round of flashcards in me after I write this. Then the big final is in the morning.
This wraps up my third semester of studying ancient biblical languages (though, unlike Koine Greek, Hebrew is alive and well). I love it. Really, I do. I even switched my degree program and concentration so that I take more languages. But I have one big beef with the way the material is being presented. Often times we are told something like, “So because of this, then, we know we’re working with a nominative noun, and that’s how we know he meant ‘ship’.” Or what have you.
That’s flatly wrong. Grammar does not give words their meaning, we do. Grammar is a tool we invented to help communicate meaning, but at the end of the day, we give words their meaning–you and I.
Words are not transcendent. They are here. They are mine and they are yours. They are me. They are you.
Do you understand my words?
We are each responsible for our words’ meaning. It’s not like there are a bunch of words floating around and we just grab them out of the air and order them in some aurally or visually pleasant manner–no. We have something to say (or not) and then we begin to utter the words within us. Where do we get new words? People. How do we know what the new words mean? People tell us.
Looking for fun in unexpected places? Join me in telling “men of letters” that they give their words meaning. Sheesh. It’s like I was arguing for flat earth or something. It is quite frustrating. The more “educated” someone is, the more they desire, perhaps unwittingly, to turn words into numbers. Folks want each word to mean one thing and only one thing. This desire and the attempt to manifest the desire is selfish. By calling it selfish, I do mean to communicate clearly that I believe it is downright evil.
To be sure, if you’re ever confused about what I meant, just ask. I will tell you what my words mean. If I’m confused and ask what you meant, then you tell me what your words mean. This back and forth is called talking.
Welcome to Erff.
So, remember my anti-bad teachers rant(s)? Only moments ago, H- told me something that *I think* gave me a glimpse of heaven.
She said, “Dad, today I fell asleep at school.”
A bit shocked, I asked, “When? Where were you?”
She said, “While we were watching T.V.”
Yippee!!! Hallelujah!! She’s doing it! Victory!!
I said, “Will you do something for me?”
She answered, “What?”
“Will you fall asleep every time you watch TV?”
(See what I’m doing here?)
So, from now on, if my little ruse works, I’ll have contributed to a problem which proves the problem. I cannot wait for some teacher or administrator to address me about H-‘s sleeping habits at school. The very thought of that moment is, itself, nourishment to my soul.
Clever title, no? Last week I introduced that for my Christian character formation class I have committed myself to working on the Christian trait of humility. I shared this partly with the intent of demonstrating what such a process looks like for adult Christians seeking a bit more rigor in their faith (not to take credit for developing this method, but to give an example of what a masters degree program at an Evangelical seminary entails). One active practice that I am going to use to work on humility is a weekly blog post dedicated to reflection on how the process is coming along. Three hundred plus word reflection starts now.
It turns out I’m not very comfortable with the idea of blogging about humility. God has seen fit that I possess the ability to read word definitions and talking and writing about my thoughts on humility seems counter-humble. As evidence of this, when I look back on my blog most of my blog posts have been laced with pride. Many were much more than laced. I don’t regret any of my boastful posts or their evidence of self-righteousness or snarkyness, not at all. How could I? I’ve ended up on a good path and to look back and regret would be a mistake. But I do now see how maladjusted my attitude was. And I do repent of that. I’ve been blessed with too much goodness to be so prideful.
As a result of this, part of me wanted to just publish a blank post titled humility because that’s what I really think about the subject. But that would require me to tell my mentor or mentoring director that I bent the rules a bit on my plan (it requires a weekly 300+ word reflection on the process), which in turn would require justification, which in turn would require more talking, which in turn would require more pride, which is the opposite of my goal. So I’m not going with the blank creative “look at how clever I am” concept.
So the real question is, “How does one who has written so many words out of pride adopt a new attitude of humility?” with the follow-up, “…and be convincing to (possibly) the same readers?”
The first step seems to be to ensure the words convey that the end state of Christian humility is constant recognition of total dependence on God, the father almighty. At the moment I’d express this dependence by thanking God for the ability to blog over the past few years. He has provided me half-a-pea-sized brain and fingers and food and shelter and a laptop and internet connection. Most humans have not been so fortunate. And I want to thank the folks in my life, especially my brother-in-law and the members in Cherry Creek Toastmasters, for encouraging me to blog/write. I don’t believe they intended me to re-adopt Christianity (or be re-adopted by Christianity as it were), but I can’t imagine how I would’ve gotten to the point of working on humility without blogging and therefore without them.
Speaking of, one CCTM friend just emailed me a copy of C.S. Lewis’s “Weight of Glory” sermon last night (he’s never emailed me anything specifically Christian before) and as I read my class textbook today I came across portions of that very sermon/writing by Lewis (never mentioned before). Given the preponderance of “threes” when it comes to these things, we’ll just have to wait and see how Lewis’ work will next appear. And it is some solid writing. In the past I would’ve mocked this as coincidence. These days I am inclined to determine why God sees fit to impress upon me these specific ideas of Lewis’. So I thank God that friends aren’t afraid to share a bit of their life with me as I attempt to transform my own.
Another shift that I can’t help but notice as I’ve been specifically reading on humility and also memorizing the Psalms (which through Psalm 10:16 are in fact uniform on our dependence on God), is my thinking about my ex-wife regarding rearing H-. We were still married for H-‘s first two years, and I’ve said and written many times that she did a great job during those two years. But then I would continue by adding a malicious assessment of the reason (that only I–as her husband and confidant–knew) as to why she did a great job. Does that make sense? I would undercut the compliment with a punch to the throat that only I could deliver because of secrets I knew. Well, though I might not be able to explain it fully, these days I honestly don’t desire to punch. It’s not because I’m tired of punching, but because I can now see how God gave us H- despite ourselves. Her mom and I were just a couple of knuckleheads trying to live the American dream. So these days I just want to express gratitude to her for mothering and nurturing H- with an integrity and discipline that many contemporary American women simply don’t value.
I don’t have a conclusion here so I’m just going to use this admission as one.
When I was at the school house for my MH-53 Pavelow training, there was a moment when a young flight-engineer-in-training was lacking confidence and as such his performance was suffering. The instructor–knowing full well both that these moments are pivotal in men’s careers and that he has the responsibility to keep unsafe and unqualified aircrew out of the aircraft–broke down the situation simply. He told the young man, “Confidence is the direct result of knowledge. You need more knowledge. You need to study more.”
There is a fairly low-flying film called The Legend of 1900. It is a story about a virtuoso pianist who was born on and never leaves a ship that crosses the Atlantic Ocean back and forth repeatedly. There is a scene at the end of the movie where a passenger tells the virtuoso about a time when he looked out at the sea from land and heard the sea say, “Life. Life is immense.”
A friend asked if I could explain why Christians are having a hard time being brave enough to tell others that they are Christians. By my thinking there are a few reasons. First, it is very possible that some Christians are honestly unsure if they are Christians. The result being that they aren’t ready to broadcast their beliefs because they know they can’t defend them–and we all know that they will be asked to defend them. Second, some Christians know that they’re Christians without a doubt. But their life circumstances have led to them also not being confident or in the mood to defend their beliefs. Add to this that a result of unbelief is the belief that Christians are fools. The Apostle Paul mentions this. Naturally, nobody wants to be called a fool and then appear to be one when they can’t defend why they are not foolish at all. Third, Christianity is immense. It is practiced the world over and with great diversity outside of a few central tenets. I have grown up in the religion since kindergarten at a private christian school and even I didn’t learn this until last semester during a master’s program. I’m well-read for a lay-person, if that. I’m comfortable in public as a Christian because it takes about two topics for the average person to concede that their diet consists of hours of daily television brainwashing and mine doesn’t. When I talk to a Christian with a healthy diet of television, I become uncomfortable and I’ve seen that consequently make them uncomfortable. I’m sure the same is true for when they realize that their brainwashed-by-television self isn’t much different than the non-christian brainwashed-by-television self that questions their beliefs.
In my apologetics class the other day I asked if the professor had any evidence of certain settings being more favorable to winning converts. (He didn’t.) But then my mind started racing. There we were, about 30ish students and the professor. We’re all academically strong individuals. And we’re motivated. Additionally, we know that manipulation and real-deal cults that brainwash folks into membership exist. Yet we wouldn’t employ those tactics to increase membership–far from it. All we’re asking for non-believers to do is consider it–simply consider it. For example, during my undergraduate program the value of being able to argue from both sides of an issue was instilled in me. There are very few non-believers who are able to even defend Christianity for the sake of argument. The reason they should want to is simply Pascal’s wager. What exactly is lost for test-driving Christianity? Friends? They aren’t your friends if they’d un-friend you for believing–and visa-versa. Family? Money? There are plenty of wealthy believers. Time? What? Independence? Enslavement to sin?
Christian confidence, just like any other confidence, begins and ends with knowledge. It always has and always will.
My daughter’s school, and many others in town it seems, just formally celebrated completing 100 days of school as if America is a third-world country that is excited to finally have formal education. When I picked her up she had a sticker on that said, “I have completed 100 Days of School!” With such an upside-down public education system, it’s surprising that there are any Christians left in America.
My main man when it comes to movie reviews is Bill Gibron. Back around the time that the internet first came to be there was a website called filmcritic.com. I discovered him there, I think. Anyhow, I have always appreciated his reviews and found them to be helpful in deciding whether or not to shell out the big bucks for a movie ticket. Over time I have noticed that he has had a particular love affair with Darren Aronofsky. Because of my esteem of Mr. Gibron, I have desperately sought the same love affair, but never quite saw the “genius” that Mr. Gibron did. I really enjoyed Mr. Aronofsky’s films, I just didn’t fall in love with the man like Mr. Gibron seemed to. All that has changed.
H- just began to learn Peter Tchaikovsky’s epic Swan Lake theme on the piano. It is a force of nature even when played with just one note at a time. In any case, this event taken together with a real desire to give Mr. Gibron’s passion one more go led to me viewing Black Swan for a second time. This time around I finally see the genius. Black Swan is the story of a ballet dancer who is trying to be the best as would be indicated by her dancing the role of the swan queen in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake in some hot shot’s revision of Swan Lake. So it’s a movie about a revision of a very famous ballet that includes themes of sacrifice and pressure to perform etc. But it’s not! It, Black Swan itself, is the revision of Swan Lake for movie-going audiences! And that’s why Mr. Aronofsky is a genius and deserves our attention. He cuts through all our defenses and serves up Tchaikovsky’s timeless story in a new way that forces us to reckon with all of our notions of love and happiness and truth and sacrifice. It’s an amazing film. Watch it. Watch it again.
Perhaps some of you think I am too hard on public school teachers. Here’s something to consider. A public school teacher with an amazing (if any divorce blog can attain such a title) blog mentioned that she finds herself teaching “frustration management” to her students. At this point, I would like to call my roughneck friends to the discussion. You see, when I was working in the oil fields, there was work to be done. Manly work. And yes, I mean that in the gender specific way. Work that men and only men can accomplish. For instance, every time we finished drilling a well, we had to move the rig to a new well. One of the things that this move required was the tightening of nuts onto bolts. The nuts were about the size of a woman’s fist, and the bolts were just over a foot long. The way we tightened these nuts was by swinging a sledge hammer as hard as we possibly could against a hammer wrench which was placed around the nut. Out of a twelve hour shift, how many minutes do you think we were given to not swinging the sledge hammer in favor of discussing how to deal with how frustrating the task was?
Do not hear me say that learning is not frustrating. And remember that I am the one who quit being a “teacher” because I refused to buy into the “be the change” mantra that schools with poor performing students chant. Instead, hear me calling public school teachers to realize that they are making the weather that they are complaining about. No other group–no other group–who controls their destiny does it in such a poor fashion as public school teachers. That’s what frustrates me (and I think most non-public educators).
By way of example, guess which specialty runs the Air Force? Pilots. Guess what pilots do for each other in the Air Force? Take care of each other. They ensure the flying is safe and smart and everyone is compensated well. Public school teachers, on the other hand, cite chapter and verse about all the limitations and massive time requirements etc. that they have to operate within and never once consider that just like Air Force pilots they are the one’s who write the book. Spending time teaching kids how to deal with the fact that learning takes effort? That cannot but be a disservice to the child–and I think teachers know that. So stop doing it. Kids need to learn to hit the hammer wrench as hard as they can and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment after the task is completed and completed well. And the only way to learn this is for teachers to tell the kids that the nuts must be tightened by a sledge hammer. As it stands, the only thing kids are learning is that the nuts don’t need to be tightened. Maybe teachers agree.
Long-time readers know of my, how shall I put it, no-love-lost relationship with public school teachers. Yes. That’s a fair way to describe the romance. Of course, it is a difficult thing to critique people who do thankless jobs. However, because teachers are adults and I know what being an adult feels like, I won’t hesitate to critique them.
This morning I went to help the kindergartners read. They each have a reading folder which contains an appropriate skill-level book and a sheet of paper on which data is recorded, data like book title, date, skill level, and the like. To give feedback to the teacher or next volunteer, there are three boxes to choose from which describe the contest between student and book: Just Right, Too Easy, Too Hard.
(New readers: My daughter is in the class.)
Anyhow, the teacher is setting me up at my spot just outside the classroom and she actually told me, instructed me, to not mark any “Too Easy”. (Pause for effect.) How could she possibly know the future?
More than that, she emphasized heavily that everything should be positive feedback and that I wasn’t to use the word “no” or say “that’s not right”. More than that, she gave me the okay to give the student the difficult word rather than have them sound it out.
If my daughter was overly shy and unkempt and occasionally had bruises that she hurriedly covered up and could not ruh-ruh-ruh-ree-add, then maybe I could see the need to talk to me about the nature of teaching the skill of reading–maybe.
Oh and another thing. One little girl was pouting because her dad’s finger accidentally touched her cheek as he got her out of the car. After sending the little girl to the nurse to get some ice, the same teacher looked at me knowingly and said, “Sometimes all it takes is a hug and a little ice.” All it takes for what? What exactly is the predicted/anticipated/desired future for indulging that kind of behavior? If you’re less than fifty and have kids I blame you. It’s probably against some policy somewhere to tell a 5 year old human-in-training, “Stop crying. You’re not hurt. Move along” because either you or parents you knew complained that a teacher with your child’s best interest in mind was being a meany.