The Karl Show
My dad just signed up for the Showtime
cable package. For an extra five dollars a month, we get about a dozen extra premium cable channels - complete with shocking violence and full frontal nudity! Hooray.
On second thought, I don't think it's such a good idea. I've got two siblings who are young and impressionable. I've also got a brain of my own that dosen't need the extra stimulation.
Sometimes I really envy you folks who don't have cable. I really do.
LATER THAT DAY...
As I said in my previous post, Adam came over tonight. We rented "A Mighty Wind
" - and this would be the second time that I've seen it. This was Adam's first, however, and he kinda liked it too. My only wish is that he could have been a bit more enthusiastic. I mean, this flick was made by the same guys who did Spinal Tap
! Then again, Adam said that he never saw Spinal Tap in the first place.
Afterwards Adam hijacked my PS2 and played Grand Theft Auto: Vice City until about midnight or so. It seems the ol' boy has a penchant for beating up old ladies and blowing up police cars. There probably aren't enough bazookas in the world for my friend Adam.
Anyway, it was a good night. I had planned to go get drinks at Red Robin or something, but discovered that I am dreadfully low on cash. So, a good night but for the lack of alcohol.
Say! Thats a good title: "O' but for the lack of alcohol!
Brad and Dan are having a blast in wintery Chicago, meanwhile I'm stuck here doing homework. I probably shouldn't complain, as my homework is 1000 times easier than the kind that most other college students are working on right now.
Adam and I are probably going to do something later on today. That'll be fun.
I don't really have anything else to say.
Curse you, writer's block!
SPONGEBOB AND NUDE MODELS
Forget Spongebob. The real cartoon homosexual has been exposed
While I was at school today, I noticed a new ad up on the community bulletin board. Apparently, there's an open position for male nude models in the Art Department. On the flyer is a drawing of an anatomically correct "David"-looking titan, complete with many squiggles of NEITHER REGION HAIR. I wonder if this - this muscle bound, perfectly proportioned statue - is the image of masculinity that our society projects? Supposing that this is the case, what does it say about our society?
Anyway, the position pays 14 dollars an hour. I'm wondering if I should go and apply? It would certainly help my bottom line! Yes, I think I'll do just that. I'm sure the Art Faculty would love to sketch my rock-hard chisled body.***
***this statement may not be true.
So what happens when these little killers
decide that they don't need us anymore?
Are you our father in heaven?
What is your name?
Where is your kingdom?
What is your will?
Will you give us some bread today?
Will you forgive our debts? (assuming that we forgive others as well?
Will you save us from the time of trial?
Will you deliver us from evil
Is the the kingdom, the power and the glory really yours?
Now and forever more?
THE DEVIL'S BIBLE!
Ladies and gentlemen, I have an important story to tell you. Gather 'round your computers and listen carefully to this tale. I promise you that your life will be changed forever.
I was once a quasi-liberal postmodern Christian, so naturally I was excited when Zondervan released it's much anticipated TNIV Bible. I ordered a trial copy so I could see for myself what kind of new insights the translators at Zondervan had up their sleeves. Little did I know, however, the supernatural torment that was in store for me!
I remember the day that my trial copy was delivered. It was last Tuesday, around 3 o'clock in the afternoon. I had just got done inserting some pro-Evolution tracts into my Church's bulletins when the doorbell rang. It's the mailperson! My new Liberal Bible is here!
I opened the door, expecting to be greeted by Joe, our friendly local mailperson. Something was odd about old Joe, however. His eyes were red, and a strange vicious black liquid dribbled down from his fanged mouth.
"My-y nam-e is Baal-Joe." he slithered, "I ha-ave com-e to de-eliver your gift!"
"Gosh! Thanks Mr. Baal-Joe!" I cheerily replied
"No-o pro-blem," he hissed, "The Dark Lord se-nds his gree-tings!"
Then old Joe muttered something in Latin, backwards. He turned, sprouted bat wings and flew away.
Although I felt that something was amiss, I couldn't contain my excitement over the new TNIV that I held in my hands! Finally! A Feminist Bible for the rest of us! I delicately opened the top of the package, which - strangely - was secured with a bright red wax seal, with the words "SEVENTH SEAL: DO NOT OPEN" written around it. Being a rebellious Liberal Christian, I opened it anyway.
Suddenly, there was a great earthquake! Cloven-footed demons flew out of the package and darted around the room. There were all kinds of them: big ones, little ones, wry ones and enormously fat ones that strongly resembled John Hagee
. They all sang a dreadful tune and danced a dreadful dance on my floor, on my walls and even upside down on my ceiling!
We have come, O we have come with the Devil's Bible!
, they sang.
Run! Run! Run from the Devil's Bible! Let Men and Women be equal! Let Brothers and Sisters be same! Let modern language prevail over Yaweh's Chosen Name!
I was pretty scared at this point.
Of course, at the time I went to a pretty liberal church, so demonic manifestations were nothing new to me. I had heard about things like this happening before, but normally it only worked with Harry Potter novels. Yet, it seemed that this would be the last straw. By accepting the strange Zondervan text, I had given my soul to the devil. But just as I was about to accept their demonic modern feminist gospel, the Good Lord saw it fit to snatch me from the insidious claws of humanism.
A great door opened in heaven, and three wise men descended down into my living room. Lo and behold, it was .J.I Packer, John Piper and James Dobson!
"The Three J's!" screamed the demons.
"That's right!" said Dr. Dobson, "We've come to save this wayward soul from modernism! I mean, post-modernism! I mean - whatever philosophy he believes in!"
"Begone you foul demons!" yelled Packer, "In the name of Jesus Christ, John Calvin and the Holy City of Geneva!"
The demons stopped dancing. The expressions on their faces turned blank, as if they were caught off guard by Packer's utterance. One by one, smoke began to rise from their bellies and armpits. They looked at their wicked hands, and saw them oozing away before their very eyes. "Not Calvinism! Anything but Calvinism!" the demons cried as they melted, "Save us, O Dark Lord Arminius! Save us from our damnation that was predestined before the foundation of the world!"
And with that cry of lament, the demons dissolved - their ashes floating down through my floor and back down to hell where they belong.
"Tha-thank you!" I stuttered, not knowing exactly what to say.
"No problem." Piper said with a confident flourish, "but this was a close one. If God hadn't elected you for salvation, I dare say that we couldn't have done anything for you."
"Indeed," Dr. Dobson said seriously, "Another minute or two and you would have been listening to Rock Music or joining the Anti-War movement."
I sat dumfounded on my living room floor with these three Living Saints hovering around me. I wanted to say something, some bit of gratitude, but I just couldn't muster the words.
"No worries, my friend!" said Packer cheerfully, "God knows that you can't say anything, which is why he wants me to say it for you."
Packer cleared his throat with a loud gurgling sound and continued.
"Firstly, since the Bible is God's word, it can't be changed, no matter how inclusive or tolerant we would like to be. Secondly, the Bible does not need to be changed, since it has been wholly preserved in the form of the King James 1611 edition."
"Thats the Bible that Jesus used!" Dobson squealed.
"Quite right," Packer continued, "believing that Men and women are somehow equal, or that Men are not the pinnacle of creation leads to all sorts of vile heresies. 'Man' - not 'human' --is the proper title of the male as primary, comprehensive, and representative of the human race
"Golly gee," I replied, finally able to get my voice and wits together, "I thought that when Paul said 'brothers', he really meant everybody who was present."
"Tut tut!" scolded Packer, as he slowly re-ascended into the sky, "lean not on your own understanding!"
"Yeah! Lean on our
understanding instead!" cried Dobson
"Remember, my friend," John Piper said as he rose back into heaven, "if being a Man was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for women, too!"
And with that, the Three J's vanished into the heavenly light from whence they came. I knew that a great thing had been done here in my living room. I knew that my life would never be the same.
Since then, I've rejected the false gospel of my moderate Swedish Church and joined a real True-Bible believing Church
. I've also started to take some Old English lessons so I can actually understand what the heck my new Authorized 1611 Bible is talking about.
Everybody should read the words of this story carefully, as I think it contains an important lesson for all of us. There is a spirit of deception working among God's Elect, making them read and believe in Bibles that are totally unbiblical. Make sure that you share this story with your fellow Elect believers so that they may not fall into the same dreadful trap that I almost did!
If you would like a copy of the Terrible New-age Infidel Version, you can click here
. You have been warned!
OILED STEAKS SOLD HERE!
Today was my first official day of classes. History of Art from the Ancient through the Middle Ages. And yes, my professor is Norwegian and completely insane - as if those weren't synonyms already. On the way home, I spotted an old restaurant on the side of the road. It was built way back in the day when all sinage was done in Neon for some reason. Their neon sign advertised fresh, hot Broiled Steaks, but, being a very old sign - the "B" and "r" had burnt out, leaving a humorous message in it's wake.
And no, the name of the restaurant was not "Exxon Valdez".
A VOICE IN MY DREAMS
"All children will be your mother's children. All daughters will be your sister's daughters. All sons will be your brother's sons."
What do you suppose it means?
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Titan:
You're looking at ground that no human eye has ever seen. A land that has been forever beyond our grasp. There it is! It's ours to explore!
Do you know what those squiggly lines are? They look like rivers. They look a lot
like rivers. But what flows on a moon where the average temprature is -179C? Methane, perhaps? Who knows? Were going to find out soon, I suspect.
Discovery is an amazing thing. A blessed thing, you might say.
Onward to Titan and beyond!
GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE?
"...love rather than almighty power is the primary perfection of God"
-Pinnock, The Openness of God (114).
Brad says that my thoughts on Theodicy resemble those of an Open Theist or perhaps even a Process Theologian. Personally, I'm more comfortable with Open Theism than with Process Theology (the latter being endorsed by the Claremont Schools). Granted, any of these ideas make me a heretic to many Christians - past and
present. I wonder if I'll still believe the things I do when the rubber meets the road? I wonder if I'll still profess my thoughts when doing so becomes very uncomfortable?
LIFE IS FRAGILE
I went to school with this kid
, although I can't say for sure that I remember him. It dosen't mention anything in the report, but I've heard that Eric was shot nine times. Four of those nine bullets apparently struck him in the head. I'm not a cop, but this seems a little overkill to me. I hope that there's a full investigation into the shooting.
Sorry for being absent over the past few days. I just got back from Placerville, where my cousin sucessfully delivered her first baby. Little Madison and her mom are doing just fine, but I'm exhausted. Hopefully I be able to do a little lighter posting (lighter in both form and content) pretty soon.
But hey, whats a thousand dead GIs between friends? I mean, at least we gave it our best shot 'n everything.
This is the kind of the monstrous theology that I'm currently struggling with, courtesy TitusOneNine
Their are two types of disasters in the world. The ones we directly create, and the ones typically called Acts of God. Romans I tells us that God is in control of both kinds, as he controls mens hearts. The truth is if God did not allow disasters to humble us we would just create more of the man made disasters.
There you have it! If God hadn't killed all those people in Asia, they would have become real uppity and maybe started a war or two. "God kills us to humble us" as this line of thinking goes. Has this point of view been the dominant one in the Church? Can this really be accepted orthodoxy? God save us if it is.
THEODICY (PART II continued below)
Well, I suppose that you've all been wondering how Mr. Karl is mulling over God's involvement in the Tsunami disaster. You're all my friends and loyal readers, so I guess you all deserve some sort of an answer.
Firstly, let me say that my thoughts and feelings are completely provisional. I'm a young man, so I think it would be surprising if my beliefs didn't change as I grew older. Being young, however, does not automatically make me foolish or naive, so I'd like to tackle this theological conundrum head on.
Since the disaster happened about two weeks ago, I've had some intense debates with some people that I love and respect very much. It's difficult for me to not
take this debate personally, as the stories of tragedy and sorrow are intensely personal. I must constantly remind myself, however, that debates within the Church are ultimately debates between Brothers and Sisters, between Mothers and Fathers. It takes a great deal of respect and humility to truly tangle with your siblings' deep feelings about God, the Scriptures, etc. I hope that the discussion on my website and others will rise to this level of familial discourse, and that we won't engage in the kind of verbal fratricide that has always been so common throughout the Church.
"So what's the problem?" you ask.
"The problem is," I reply - while thoughtfully stroking my beard - "is that we have a supposedly good God who is supposedly all-powerful - and yet - terrible things supposedly happen to supposedly good people."
This is the problem that faces us like a big, grinning monster in our living room corner. This is the monster in our living room corner that we try to ignore when we invite our friends over for a little dinner party, or when we try to relax in front of the TV after a long day's work. It's the monster that takes our lovely stained-glass windows, our austere High Christology, our intriguing Trinitarian Formulas and smashes them like dusty, dry pottery. Our golden words about Free Will, Salvation, Faith, Theosis and Justification becomes ashes in the mouth of a mother who has just lost her son - or of 50,000 mothers who have lost twice as many sons and daughters in ten minutes of watery deluge. Words fail us - and perhaps rightfully so.
Yet, human life completely devoid of words is barely human life at all. As humans we are called to make an effort at words - an effort at understanding - even if that understanding forever evades us. We must try to come to grips with this disaster - and God's relationship to it - if we are to rightfully claim the mantle of sentient beings. Anything less, I think, would be an abdication of our responsibility as thinking, feeling human beings.
Let's begin with the first part of our problem.
GOD IS SUPPOSEDLY GOOD
Or is he? There are a significant number of Christians (along with Jews and Muslims, I imagine) who believe that whatever actions God chooses to take, the actions are - by definition - Good. God can do no wrong, therefore all his actions are Right. This is the view that I was inculcated into as a child, and I suspect most young Christians were (and still are) similarly inculcated. This belief, however, leads to some interesting moral compromises. Were all aware of the myriad of Holy War texts in the Hebrew Scriptures, as well as the natural disasters, plagues and supernatural killing sprees that YHWH often performs. This line of thinking forces us to see these activities as being "good" because they were performed by the One who can do no Evil. This begs several questions, of course. Is something only "Good" because YHWH commands it at the moment, and likewise only "Evil" because YHWH disproves of it at another moment? In my estimation, this kind of reasoning would eventually lead to a moral anarchy that many of it's proponents fail to recognize. If we "shall not kill", for example, what shall we do when YHWH calls us to exterminate a race of idolaters? Good and Evil are defined merely by YHWH's personal whims - while our goodness and evilness is determined by how quickly and faithfully we obey his whims. In this scenario, a man can be good one day by giving his income to the poor, and be equally good the next day when he slits the throat of a Cannanite toddler.
Obedience has become the only real "good". Disobedience has become the only real "evil". YHWH has become a cosmic Saddam Hussein.
If one accepts this point of view as normative, then one may seriously debate whether or not aid and comfort should be given to the survivors of the Tsunami, since YHWH has apparently wanted them dead in the first place. Caring for the sick and injured might be seen by YHWH as interfering with his Divine Act, and thus he would punish the rescuers accordingly.
GOD IS SUPPOSEDLY ALL-POWERFUL
What does it mean to be all-powerful? Although our minds can't really grasp the fullness of the word, it more or less means being able to do anything one wishes. Although, philosophical questions have been raised about the viability of Omnipotence (.i.e can God create a rock so big and so heavy that even he can't lift it?). On the surface level, questions like these seem very spurious to the committed Christian.
"Of course not," we say, confidently, "because God is strong enough to lift anything." But if this is the case, then it means there are certain things that God cannot create (or do), and he is therefore not Omnipotent. Again, this line of argument seems like a humorous children's game - perhaps akin to asking how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Yet I believe that it throws light on a very serious and very adult question: namely, is there anything that God cannot do? Well, if one accepts the "God-is-good-by-definition" argument, this line of reasoning is already closed. God can do anything he pleases, even things that we would consider sinful and wicked - because they are not sinful and wicked when committed by YHWH. Yet if we abandon our first argument, a new pathway opens before us: yes, there are perhaps some things that God cannot do. God cannot sin, for example. Nor can he lie. This line of argument posits that God is, indeed, Good, while his complete Goodness precludes him from doing certain things or taking certain actions. There are some deeds - some fruits, you might say - that are paradoxically beyond God's reach but well within our own.
It may also be that we have completely misunderstood "Omnipotence" and invested it with the kind of power that we
would wield if we were God. It may be that God's omnipotence does not include violence, death, lying and sin - but rather is encompassed and defined by the suffering righteousness of his own Son. As you can probably tell, I'm more comfortable with this line of reasoning than I am with the "Good-by-definition" argument. Although I personally find it more appealing, it's not without it's flaws. Many sincere Christians would question the wisdom of worshipping a God who has little control over his own creation - a God who's reaction to suffering and death is to suffer and die along with us - a God who's reaction to sin is to be "made...[into] sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
I, of course, would question the wisdom of worshipping a completely sovereign God who cannot be trusted in the first place.
Pt. 2 later....
TERRIBLE THINGS SUPPOSEDLY HAPPEN
Although it may seem strange to us, one of the first avenues of Christian Theodicy is to deny (either directly or indirectly) that bad things actually happen. Now, I suspect that there are very few self-professed Christians outside of "Christian Science" who would forcefully argue that pain and suffering are illusory. There is, however, a significant (but perhaps unofficial) school of thought that posits pain and suffering are really gifts from God - blessings in disguise, you might say. In this line of reasoning, the Tsunami disaster, while painful and catastrophic, was not exactly a "terrible thing", since there is a possibility that, (for example), some of the survivors might realize their own mortality and convert to Christianity. Tragic events become a regrettable but necessary divine impetus for conversion, greater holiness or appreciation for all the other "blessings" that God has given us. While a common way of approaching Theodicy, this approach involves - as you can imagine - significant moral compromise. It harkens back to the first assertion, namely, that YHWH can and will do as he wishes - and if he wishes to murder 150,000 people in order that a handful of survivors might convert to YHWH's personality cult, then he will do it. In this mode of thinking, terrible tragedies become enormous blessings when viewed "in the light of eternity". In fact, terrible tragedies disappear entirely from the universe if we accept this premise. No longer can we call suffering, pain or misery "evil". In fact, there is even the danger that we can no longer label the human or natural perpetrators of misery as being "evil". As long as there is a significant chance that the pain and suffering in question leads some people closer to YHWH than they were before the suffering began, the evil and wickedness in question is transformed into a glorious blessing bestowed upon the Elect. Nothing remains evil, because YHWH has potentially made all evil a blessing, and therefore made it Good. Now, I realize that most of my brothers and sisters don't take this belief quite as far as I've taken it here. They would say that although God is not the author of evil, God can take evil and make some sort of good come out of it. This idea seems reasonable, especially since this is something that you and I often do in our own lives. We "make lemonade out of lemons", as the American proverb says. Yet I believe that the core of this viewpoint is far darker than a fundamentally Good God who makes a sweet juice out of a displeasing fruit. This view posits a god who actively breaks eggs in order to make omelets - even if those "eggs" happen to be human heads. So, if YHWH does a terrible thing in order to make a good thing, can we really call the terrible thing "terrible"? This line of reasoning says "no". All things work together for YHWH's glory - and who are we to complain? Who are we to call his work (and the people who carry out his work) "evil"?
SUPPOSEDLY GOOD PEOPLE
We all know that there are some bad people in the world. They come in all shapes and sizes, and in all colors as well. The Scriptures teach us that God disapproves of bad human behavior - and many scriptures portray a god who takes active measures to punish humans when they fail to live up to his exacting legal standards. YHWH heaps judgment on the unrighteous - he causes them pain and suffering. When a natural disaster like the Tsunami strikes, many Christians (and indeed, most monotheists) are quick to assume that the collective sins of the Thai, Indonesian, Sri Lankan and Indian peoples have brought the Creator's wrath down upon themselves. Now, of course, we can't know exactly what sins these people have done to deserve such a fate (except perhaps the rather general sin of not being a Christian). Yet this point of view assures us that their sins must have been bad enough for YHWH to satisfy his justice in such a manner. But what about the Christians who surely died in the Tsunami? I have little doubt that some of my fellow believers who hold this position will eventually deny that any "real" Christians died in the Tsunami because, after all, YHWH blesses those who bless him. What if we could find proof, however, that some faithful Christians were killed in the disaster? What then?
"Well, obviously," my hypothetical opponent would say, "they've been Glorified. They're walking the streets of gold and twiddling their toes in the river of life." This, of course, makes YHWH's justice to be enormously indiscriminate. Christians often joke about keeping a wide berth of notorious sinners - lest any stray lightning bolts strike the innocent passerby as well. This line of thinking raises the old Christian joke into a terrifying new reality. What if YHWH really can't aim straight? What if he mistakenly murders his own (supposedly righteous) people along with the ungodly heathens? "Naturally," my opponent says, "YHWH doesn't make mistakes - so Christian or not, it must have been their time to die."
And there we have it. YHWH doesn't always bless those who bless him. Sometimes he murders them in extraordinarily violent and painful ways.
Why? Maybe they had unrepentant sin in their lives. Maybe their horrific deaths served some higher, nobler purpose. "Maybe God wanted them in heaven so bad," my mother used to tell me, "that he took them up to be with him!" Maybe all of these things are true, but it doesn't change the fundamentals of this argument: that YHWH murders sinners, that YHWH murders his righteous followers as well, that righteousness is not a guarantee of safety and that YHWH's wrath is both random and arbitrary. This line of thinking is unacceptable to many Christians, so we can, I think, return to the previous argument - namely, that no Elect Christians died in the Tsunami. This argument will inevitably lead to a kind of Calvinistic prosperity gospel - a gospel where evidence of YHWH's blessing can be more or less determined by how healthy, wealthy and wise someone is, or perhaps by how often their prayers are answered, or by how deftly they escape certain death.
The poor, the downtrodden, the meek, the dying - their misery is a symptom of their rejection of YHWH. In other words, terrible things don't happen to good people. It's only bad people who need to look out for incoming Tsunamis. But, wait! Don't we all die eventually? Not even the wealthiest and healthiest Christians live forever. "Ah, but they do!" my opponent says with a smile, "They live in Glory with Christ and John Calvin, forever and ever!"
I'm glad you've taken the time to read through my musings. These are some of the thoughts that I work my way through on a daily basis. It's far from complete or exhaustive, but it's the best that I have to offer at the moment.
"So," you're asking yourself, "where does Karl stand?"
"Probably outside the realm of Evangelical orthodoxy." I reply
God is good. God is very good. God can do no evil. God's capacity for goodness, his truly Good nature, precludes him from taking certain actions. He cannot lie to us so that we might serve him better, nor, I believe, can he crush and drown children because he is displeased with their parents or their country of origin. He wishes no ill upon us, but rather wills the salvation of all mankind. He desperately wants to save us - not just from floods and earthquakes, but from our own sin as well. Yet, we resist. Nature resists. God's will is thwarted again and again, yet he continues to work out his will among us and within the broken Universe that he created. As strange as it sounds, as heretical as it sounds - God is not omnipotent. Weather by his own choice or (as I am lead to believe) by the very nature of the Creation that he has made - God is limited in his effective response. We resist his grace, and he has little choice but to allow us to make our own decision. Nature resists his command, and I think he also has little choice in the matter. He could, I suppose, make us into fleshy robots who have no choice but to obey and respond. He could also, I suppose, make a clockwork Universe that ticks and tocks under his perfect and all-knowing control. Yet, this is not the case. There are some things that God just can't do.
So where does this leave us? Did God see the Tsunami coming and choose not to act? I don't think so. I think God the father watched in helpless horror as those dark waves swept up his beloved children. I think that the Holy Spirit prayed for the safety of each person caught in the maelstrom. I think that Christ was crucified along with all the hundreds of thousands who died in that malicious flood. God was not complicit in this terrible act, any more than any of the parents were complicit in the drowning of their children. God was not responsible, any more than we were responsible for the shifting of those tectonic plates. Yet, God is at work. He didn't come down on a cloud with trumpets blaring, nor did he magically provide food for all hungry survivors. But he did work - and is working - as he always does: in small ways. He works through a blanket donated to World Vision, or through a doctor from Medicins Sans frontiers, or through a .U.S Navy helicopter rescue team. This is how God works, my friends - not through plagues, disasters, death, decay and sin - but through the kindness, the mercy and, yes, the holiness that he has created in each human heart. This is the God who became one of us and died on the cross. This is the God that we have died with in Baptism. The very same God who suffers and dies with us - and with all his Children - to this very day.
The interesting thing about the Bible is that it can say virtually anything you want it to say. All of the positions that I've outlined above (including my own) can be backed up and rallied around some select verses scattered around the Bible. No matter where you're coming from in this discussion, you'll be able to find some texts that speak strongly for your position and seem to negate your opponent's position. I want to get this out of the way first so I can be sure that our discussion doesn't turn into a Scripture-Quoting match. The truth is that the place we arrive in Christian Theology depends a great deal on where we start, so to speak. I've arrived at a sort of Arminianism that I find helpful in answering so many of the questions that we ask ourselves. Chances are, you've probably arrived somewhere else. I recognize this, so I'm not about to go out and start my own "Karlist Arminian Church" where all the TRUE BELIEVERS will hang out - while sinners and heretics wait outside. No, I'm not interested in starting a new school of dogma or passing resolutions or excluding anybody based on anything.
These are just the words of one young man trying to understand God in a universe gone mad. I think, ultimately, that most of our words about God are just that: the attempt to understand. It's not a completely hopeless quest, I think - for I believe that Our Father would not have given us the ability to understand if there was not Someone out there to understand, Someone, perhaps, to understand with us.
I took my grandma out today on her weekly shopping trip. As we pulled into the parking lot at WalMart, I noticed something rather strange. An RV parked towards the edge of the lot was smoking. I mean, black smoke was wafting up and out of the windows. I thought that this was kind of odd, so I drove a little closer to get a better look. I saw an elderly couple standing outside the RV, looking in - looking at the unmistakeable orange glow of fire. It was daylight around noon, but you could still see the glow radiating outwards from the door and windows.
"Grandma," I said in my calm-but-nervous voice, "that RV is on fire."
My grandma can't see very well so she was surprised, as you can imagine. She told me to drive away quickly just in case the RV exploded. I figured that this was a good idea, so I pulled out with my cell phone in one hand and the stearing wheel in the other. It took about 30 seconds for me to get connected with 911. Strangely, it was the Highway Patrol dispatch. As soon as I asked to be connected with the Turlock dispatch, the operator asked "Are you reporting the RV fire in the WalMart parking lot?"
"Uh, yeah." I replied, more than a little surprised.
"They've already got it." she said flatly.
I realized that this was probably the 537th call that they had recieved. I was a little dissapointed, in a way. I had figured that I was the first person on the scene. The fire had barely started when I arrived, but by the time I got off the phone with the Highway Patrol it was already shooting up huge pillars of fire out of the windows on the side and the vents on top. It would be another three minutes or so before the Fire Trucks arrived and a few minutes after that until the fire was more or less put out.
The moral of the story?
Ubiquitous cell phones are, in fact, helpful.
EVERY MAN'S BATTLE
It's true that I struggle with this terrible sin
constantly. Thankfully, there is hope for me and people like me. If you're struggling with this depravity like I am, leave a message in the comment box and maybe we can start a support group or something.
WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?
10,000 Americans wounded in Iraq.
According to this article, our wounding-to-death ratio is about 10:1 - which is a good thing, I suppose. It obviously has been much higher in previous conflicts where injuries were much more life-threatening.
Still, I can't get over the fact that so many of our men and women have been injured or killed. I mean, 10,000 is a big number. A number, incidently, that probably won't make a huge splash in the media over here.
Come quickly, Prince of Peace.
Wow. You'll never guess what happened to me today. Believe me, it was something really great.
I had no idea that I was entitled to free tuition because my father is disabled. I think you can imagine my surprise when I learned that this was the case. I filled out the forms, copied the necessary documents and delivered them to the Financial Aid office today. Their response was immediate: I will receive free tuition. Just like that!
I'm amazed. Tuition is pretty expensive here in California - even when you go to "Junior College" (or "Just Cheap") as I like to call it. Now all I need to do is pay for my books - and I'm all set! This really takes a huge burden off my shoulders. I've seriously wondered in recent weeks how I was going to pay for all my classes, but now that burden is gone.
Make no mistake - I wish my dad wasn't disabled. I wish he wasn't so sick. I'm just glad that a safety net exists for my dad and his children. I'm glad that God can take my sadness and still make some good come out of it.
I was small among my brothers,
and the youngest in my fathers house;
I tended my fathers sheep.
2 My hands made a harp;
my fingers fashioned a lyre.
3 And who will tell my Lord?
The Lord himself; it is he who hears.
4 It was he who sent his messenger
and took me from my fathers sheep,
and anointed me with his anointing-oil.
5 My brothers were handsome and tall,
but the Lord was not pleased with them.
6 I went out to meet the Philistine,
and he cursed me by his idols.
7 But I drew his own sword;
I beheaded him, and took away disgrace from the people of Israel.
Don't bother looking for this Psalm in your Bible. You were right to wonder if Zondervan had really added another Psalm after 150. They didn't. The Psalm you just read is only found in Eastern Orthodox bibles, and is thus relegated to the Apocryphal books in my new quasi-Protestant Study Bible.
Now, before you think I've suddenly gone all heretical, I have no plans to start quoting the Gospel of Thomas or The Book of Enoch in regular conversation. The Apocrypha just doesn't entice me the way it does some other wayward souls.
But I do like this Psalm.
"My brothers were handsome and tall,
but the Lord was not pleased with them"
Are you not among the pretty people? Are you not among the rich and famous? Me neither. I suspect that most people are not very pretty or very wealthy - on the inside or the outside. This isn't the image that our culture projects, however. We are expected to be successful, handsome, smart, shrewd - so on and so forth. Cultural standards were even more exacting in David's day. I bet that we have it downright easy compared to ancient Israel. I mean, at least we aren't required to obey our parents until they're dead - or have no choice but to work the family farm for the rest of our lives. There are some advantages to living in the post-modern age.
Yet David - or, rather, a ghostwriter for David - says that the "small" brother (literally: youngest, or the little child, or "the least") the shortest brother, the least handsome brother would be the one to take away the disgrace of his people.
Remember this often: that God uses whom he pleases, no matter our appearance, our status or even our height. God is willing to work with us, if we are willing to listen.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
to you and yours. Another year of peace, Love and Joy to you all.
: It just occurred to me...it's now 2005. Aren't we supposed to be living in the future or something? Where's my spaceship?