Can theology be practical? Entertaining? Relevant? Anyone who has heard Randy Harris speak will answer with a resounding, ”Yes!” Combining his experience as a professor of theology with a popular style that makes the profound understandable, Harris opens us up to the world as God intends. These essays challenge us to a wider vision of the God who works in all things.
In 1941 England, when all hope was threatened by the inhumanity of war, C. S. Lewis was invited to give a series of radio lectures addressing the central issues of Christianity. More than half a century later, these talks continue to retain their poignancy. First heard as informal radio broadcasts on the BBC, the lectures were published as three books and subsequently combined as Mere Christianity. C. S. Lewis proves that “at the center of each there is something, or a Someone, who against all divergences of belief, all differences of temperament, all memories of mutual persecution, speaks with the same voice,” rejecting the boundaries that divide Christianity’s many denominations. This twentieth century masterpiece provides an unequaled opportunity for believers and nonbelievers alike to hear a powerful, rational case for the Christian faith.
I keep a copy in the Kindle app on my phone.
It’s true that Progressives and Conservatives don’t think alike. As America descends deeper into polarization and paralysis, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has done the seemingly impossible—challenged conventional wisdom about morality, politics, and religion in a way that speaks to everyone on the political spectrum. Drawing on his twenty five years of research on moral psychology, he shows how moral judgments arise not from reason but from gut feelings. He shows why liberals, conservatives, and libertarians have such different intuitions about right and wrong, and he shows why each side is actually right about many of its central concerns. In this subtle yet accessible book, Haidt gives you the key to understanding the miracle of human cooperation, as well as the curse of our eternal divisions and conflicts. If you’re ready to trade in anger for understanding, read The Righteous Mind.
The simplest way to get a wrong answer is to ask the wrong question, and an excellent way to compound the error is to ask the wrong source. That’s what happens so often when Science tries to answer questions that should be the province of Religion and vice versa.
There is no dignity when the human dimension is eliminated from the person. In short, the problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of the person, but that it shows far too little.
—John Paul II
It is the perfection of God’s works that they are all done with the greatest simplicity.
The Cabin Boy asks me to denounce murder. OK. Consider it denounced. I haven’t killed anyone since I left Viet Nam, and I am opposed to the wrongful taking of an innocent human life. That includes abortion.
The Cabin Boy asks me to denounce adultery. OK. Consider it denounced. I have been the faithful husband of one wife for almost 34 years now. I do not encourage adultery. I also don’t encourage spousal abuse. BTW, Bill Schmalfeldt appears to claim to be a practicing Catholic. What does his priest tell him about the Catholic Church’s doctrine on divorce and remarriage?
The Cabin Boy asks why I don’t distance myself from people who masturbate. Really? I have no intention of cutting myself off from most of people in the world.
The Cabin Boy asks why I continue to bear false witness against others. I don’t knowingly do it, so I can’t stop what I’m not doing. OTOH, Schmalfeldt is a proven liar. For example, he first claimed that he took down a tweet containing @wjjhoge on the evening of 7 July within seconds of posting it by mistake. His story then changed to within a couple of minutes. I downloaded the tweet when it was 21 minutes old as you can see in the yellow highlighted area below.
Of course, there was nothing honest in the Cabin Boy’s questions. He was just trying to use Alinsky’s Rule 4 on me.
Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.
If I tried to apply the same rule to the Sore Loserman, I’d be up against a serious problem.
The lawless don’t follow any rules.
UPDATE—It’s actually quite pathetic to see how the Cabin Boy attempts to tap dance his way out of documented lies.
On Sunday, 7 July, I attended a meeting in Catonsville, Maryland, that did not end until 9:00 pm. There are witnesses. I drove the more than 30 miles home to Westminster and did not have a computer in the car, even if I could have operated one while driving. There was a passenger with me, another witness. I arrived home just before 9:40 pm.
Schmalfeldt’s original post is timestamped 9:22 pm. I checked my Twitter account and saw it in my timeline just after 9:40 pm and screen capped the @RadioWMS page at 9:43 pm.
If Schmalfeldt’s claim were true, he would have taken down the tweet by 9:25 pm and I would have never seen it. At 9:25 pm, I was someplace along MD 140 several miles from home.
UPDATE 2—Yeah, he needs tap shoes instead of a tutu. Either the Cabin Boy’s reading comprehension is fading or his desperation is really taking hold. He seems to be spending his time arguing against points not in this post or the UPDATE.
Also, he should have learned from his experiences in court that I don’t litigate on the Internet. The real, convincing evidence goes to the judge before it is published. He can try to persuade his 37 followers. I only have to convince one judge and let his verdict inform the public.
UPDATE 3—A correction: In reviewing the timestamps on images and log entries, I find that I misread some of the log entries. I opened the Mail and Safari applications on my Mac at 9:43 pm. Twitter was one of the sites opened in my browser. Schmalfeldt’s tweet came in at 9:44 pm while I was tending to email. Schmalfeldt is correct in stating that is when he posted it. When I noticed his tweet, I went to the @RadioWMS feed, and screen capped the tweet at 10:06 pm. Here is the entire browser window capture:
I apologize for my error in reporting the actual timestamps.
Schmalfeldt claims that he took the tweet down at 9:48 pm. That isn’t consistent with when I found it in the @RadioWMS feed, but even if it were true, it isn’t consistent with his claim of deleting the tweet within a few seconds or a couple of minutes. Even his own “evidence” doesn’t support the stories he’s been telling for the past month.
The Cabin Boy is a man who seems to be unwilling to take responsibility for his own words or to claim he never uttered them. In the first peace order hearing in District Court he claimed to be unaware of being put on notice to stop contacting me. Yet, on the afternoon that I sent the notice, he sent a tweet linking to my post containing the notice. Perhaps his memory is bad, or perhaps it’s merely conveniently bad. Whatever. Gentle Reader, you may choose whose word you trust.
UPDATE—Thanks for the proofreading. Fixed it.
Что посе́ешь, то и пожнёшь. What you plant, that you will harvest.
By their fruits you will know them.
This blog is not limited to any one particular subject. I write about lots of different topics and lots of different people.
Yesterday evening, I put up a couple of posts (this one and this one) that were derived from notes for the sermon I preached this morning. (Our congregation will be bringing a new evangelist on board in August, and I have been one of the guys temporarily filling the pulpit.) A casual reading of those posts shows that they were not directed to or written about any particular person. A careful reading confirms that. Indeed, the words were meant to encourage a small group of Christians who have been having a difficult time to “Keep Calm and Carry On” and to be fruitful. I was pleased to receive some positive feedback on Twitter (Thanks, Smitty.)
Why is it, I wonder, that anyone would think those posts were aimed at him specifically? I suppose such a person would be prime example of a narcissist, someone with an grandiose view of himself and his importance, someone who can’t imagine that somethings simply aren’t about him.
My primary area of ministry for the past few years has been working with people in recovery from various issues such as substance abuse, divorce, gambling, etc. Typically, these folks get involved in one of the Twelve Step programs, and as they work through their Fourth Steps (“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”), one character defect that many find is a self-centeredness that has led them to believe that everything is all about them. As their recoveries progress, they find that their narcissism must be set aside.
It is surely harmful to souls to make it a heresy to believe what is proved.
Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.
… Carry On reads a famous WWII propaganda poster. … and Bring Grenades reads a Firefly fan t-shirt.
If I were following my natural inclinations, I’d have plenty of grenades. That’s a very human approach to adversity. When someone damages our calm, we often want to respond forcefully, decisively, and with a couple of ounces of C4. But there’s a better way. The way of Jesus.
Uh, oh. He’s going all preachy on us.
No, at least, I hope not. When Jesus called people to himself, he rarely did it with a sermon. Or a lecture or a book. He mostly invited people to come and follow Him into a new humanity fit for the world as God intended it to be. Many of His followers have been preaching sermons at folks for a couple of millennia with mixed results. Others have been simply following Him, and those disciples often display an amazing calm.
That calm, their shalom, comes from their understanding of what God is doing in His creation, not necessarily at some detailed level but in the grand working out of things. With that understanding of where God is taking the world, most problems become small scale set against eternity.
Those disciples of Jesus also seem to be a pretty humble bunch. They know who they are and don’t have either too high or too low a view of themselves. They see themselves as important enough that the Son of God died for them but no more or less important than any of the other sinners His death and resurrection redeem. That recognition of who they are before God gives them a sense of proportion.
Another thing about these disciples is that they, like Jesus, are open to others. Jesus was able to accept the hospitality of the rich and then go and hang out with tax collectors and hookers. These followers, like Jesus, speak out against sin, but they leave it to others to decide which path they to take. There is a time to allow someone to make a bad choice. There is a time to stand between an evildoer and the innocent. There is a time to say things like, “Abortion stops a beating heart.” But it is always time to reach out to a hurting world with love.
The kind of love that these disciples show is not at all self-centered. It’s the opposite of the narcissism we see so much of these days.
Indeed, that lack of self-centeredness practiced by these followers of Jesus leads them to a sort of holy indifference to their material circumstances. Whether poor or rich, whether up or down, they are satisfied. They have a joy that is independent of their material circumstances.
They don’t ignore the future, but they are grounded in the present, in the moment that God is sharing with them now. That leads them to a different understanding of what is sacred. If God is with them now, then this moment is sacred? If He is present here, then isn’t this place sacred? The word secular means “of the world,” but their real world is sacred.
Look at what these disciples have found in Jesus. Peace in a frantic world. Humility in a posturing world. Open nonjudgmentalism in a divided world. Caring for others in a narcissistic world. Joy in a dissatisfied world. Holy indifference to the material things of the world. Presence in the real world.
I admit that I do a pretty poor job of staying on that path. But, with God’s help, I keep trying. I’m still a work in progress.
Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise.
I think so, Brain … but what if we’re predestined to believe in free will?
The Weekly Standard has a piece up in which Nancy Pelosi is quoted, and she seems to be saying that she saying that she supports abortion because she’s a Catholic. (H/T, Evi L. Blogger Lady at Batshit Crazy News). I am not a Catholic, but from what I know of that church’s doctrine, I find this mind-bogglingly weird.
Pope Francis was unavailable for comment.
What is desirable in a man is his kindness,
And it is better to be a poor man than a liar.
But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.
Job endured everything—until his friends came to comfort him, then he grew impatient.
In December, 2011, I posted this brief article.
Christopher Hitchen’s Surprise
I ask this earnestly, not to troll: If Hitchens is getting a surprise, isn’t it necessarily a nasty surprise according to Christian doctrine?
Christopher Hitchens’ beliefs concerning God were nearly 180 degrees opposed to mine. Either he is in for a big surprise, or I’m not. Either he is meeting a Maker whose existence he denied, or I will pass on into nothingness when my life ends.
I greatly admired Mr. Hitchens’ talents as a writer and debater, but I believe that God is just and that, being just, God will honor the choice Mr. Hitchens took to be separated from Him.
* * *
After listening to some of the recent preaching by Slappy McWingnut (aka Elder William, The Lord of Satire) (No, I won’t link to it.), it seems that his view of God is nearly as far out of line from mine as was Mr. Hitchen’s, but in a different direction.
McWingnut preaches that his god is a “pissed-off” god who hates being interrupted by prayers. Another part of McWingnut’s schtick seems to be that one can keep this god from being angry by giving money to support his ministry. (OK, that’s a fair parody of a lot of “religious” scam artists.) McWingnut preaches his god’s hate.
The God I serve is loving, and because He is, He grants us the freewill to choose to love or not love Him in return. If we choose to enter into a loving relationship with Him, He is delighted. If we do not, He respects our choice.
If you check out the answers in the back of the book, you’ll see that God says that at some point He will gather those of us who choose to be His to live in his presence. You’ll also see that He says that He will honor the wishes of those who have chosen not to love Him.
My God loves everyone, including Slappy McWingnut.
UPDATE—I’ve had a question about describing God’s reaction to our love for Him as “delight.” In the opening section of Ephesians, Paul writes that God’s intention for us is
… εἰς υἱοθεσίαν διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς αὐτόν κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ …
which can be translated as
… for adoption as children through Jesus Christ according to the delight of His will …
That word in boldface, εὐδοκίαν, literally means well-seeming or, idiomatically, delight. Most English translations render it as pleasure or good pleasure, but I believe that “delight” better reflects the joy that God says He finds in loving relationships with us.
A false witness will not go unpunished,
And he who tells lies will not escape.
‘Cursed is he who distorts the justice due an alien, orphan, and widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil. Although a sinner does evil a hundred times and may lengthen his life, still I know that it will be well for those who fear God, who fear Him openly. But it will not be well for the evil man and he will not lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God.
—Ecclesiastes 8:11 … 13
Today’s Quote of the Day is from the Book of Proverbs. It got a thumbs-down from Mr. Down Twinkles who apparently feels he is wiser than Solomon.
Like a madman who throws
Firebrands, arrows and death,
So is the man who deceives his neighbor,
And says, “Was I not joking?”
—Proverbs 26:18, 19