The Thirty Minute Blogger

Exploring Books and the Writer's Life, Faith and Works, Culture and Pop Culture, Space Science and Science Fiction, Technology and Nostalgia, Parenting and Childhood, Health: Physical and Emotional ... All Under the Iron Hands of the Clock and That 30 Minute Deadline

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Warm Bodies: A Film with Heart, Romance, and Zombies: Warm Bodies - Trailer #1



Since we're living in a world currently zombie obsessed (vampires are so last year), how long could it be before the zombie genre took on Shakespeare. Based on a young adult novel, Warm Bodies provides an undead twist to the Romeo and Juliet tale, with the warring families including skeletal zombies on one side and John Malkovich as General Grigio and his living army determined to stay that way on the other. In between them are the general's daughter Julie (Teresa Palmer) and one determined, smitten young zombie named "R" (Nicholas Hoult) on the other ... he is slowly losing his own memories and isn't quite sure, but believes his first name started with R when he was alive. 

The movie is fine for those 14 and up. Under that, not so much. There is some language, some making out, and the obligatory brain eating ... hey, a zombies gotta eat, right?

Several things make this movie engaging: the comedy (Shaun of the Dead style), the characters ... each main character has a buddy who keeps things lively (so to speak), and a clever spin on why zombies eat brains. What makes the movie compelling are some of the slightly behind the scenes messages that are well worth discussing with teens and each other: a simple human gesture brings change to suffering zombie and human cultures alike, those who choose to cling to one set of beliefs stubbornly and refuse to change strip themselves of their humanity and any hope to maintain a certain perspective, and cultural norms are confronted and refuted in the name of love. 

Go ahead and see it ... it might stir your heart.


If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishing.com/bookstore-marketplace/children-s-books/michael-and-the-new-baby/

Monday, February 25, 2013

Turbojet Powered Railways: flight of the M497 2012 and More ...

 Unlike GE's Areotrain, here was a train that didn't have the looks but was intended to have the speed that would propel it into tomorrow with turbojet engines mounted on top of the car. This was the M-497 Black Beetle. Of course in the 1970s, there was another contender in this turbojet propelled need for speed contest. The old Soviet Union came up with their ER22, a train with two YAK 40 airline engines mounted to the roof. That engine reached speeds of 160+ mph ... but was quickly discontinued (I'll bet those very noisy engines drew a lot of attention as they propelled the train down the tracks.)

For more on this fast tech of the past, see: http://urbanlifesigns.blogspot.com/2012/04/get-your-locomotive-on.html


If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishing.com/bookstore-marketplace/children-s-books/michael-and-the-new-baby/

The Train of Tomorrow: KETC | Living St. Louis | Aerotrain

Any machine or place with "of tomorrow" or "of the future" seems to be relegated to the dustbin of history. But those experimental visions of tomorrow are sure fun to look back to. Turns out this Train of Tomorrow was all looks and no performance. Very stylish, but not so futuristic ...

If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishing.com/bookstore-marketplace/children-s-books/michael-and-the-new-baby/

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness - Benedict Cumberbatch Talks John Harrison

 Getting a little foretaste from the actor and actress of who John Harrison and Dr. Carol Marcus will be ... and won't be. You'll see.


If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishing.com/bookstore-marketplace/children-s-books/michael-and-the-new-baby/

Star Trek Into Darkness First Look Featurette

 Beautiful, relentless, fun, challenging ... that's what the director and actors are saying. We'll see for ourselves soon enough.


If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishing.com/bookstore-marketplace/children-s-books/michael-and-the-new-baby/

To This Day Project - Shane Koyczan

 This is an important message for all who have been bullied, are being bullied, and/or are struggling with the aftermath of a childhood spent being bullied. You are not alone. Your pain is understood. It does get better but it is a fight! If you know someone who is being bullied in school, DO NOT excuse this. DO NOT write it off with trite phrases like, "Well, kids will be cruel sometimes," or "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger." It isn't true and you shouldn't stand for it! For the bullied, take this to heart and deny the hateful messages spit at you with no more forethought than a sneeze.


If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishing.com/bookstore-marketplace/children-s-books/michael-and-the-new-baby/

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Challenge from the Book Jesus Laughed: The Redemptive Power of Humor: Good News From Christianity


The grace of God is dangerous. It's lavish, excessive, outrageous, and scandalous. God's grace is ridiculously inclusive. Apparently God doesn't care who He loves. He is not careful about the people He calls His friends or the people He calls His Church. 

~ Mike Yaconelli

From Jesus Laughed: The Redemptive Power of Humor

Mike Yaconelli (1942-2003), for those who wonder, was a pastor, theologian, writer, and satirist who had quite a bit to say about Christianity on the lighter side and made good use of humor, as should we all.  
Jesus Laughed, by Robert Darden, is a book whose author argues that there is humor in the Bible and a strong place for humor in our faith ... although hundreds of years of church teachings ... MANY hundreds ... would say or imply otherwise. As for me, who uses the little book The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss to good ends in a sermon from time to time and just picked up a copy of The Gospel According to Peanuts (the predecessor to the Dr. Seuss title), which I'm eagerly looking forward to using. This is one of a number of books telling Christians it's okay to lighten up ... and even to laugh once in a while. Jesus won't hold it against you, really!
This is one of a number of titles I'm currently reading in tandem. 
Oh yes, and if you are currently adding addenda and exclusions to what Mike had to say above (and yes, it's challenging), refer back to Paul in Romans 2 about God's inclusive nature (he was schooling the church in Rome, which was getting a little out of hand with Jewish and Gentile Christians getting in each other's faces over who was and wasn't part of God's people): 
Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. 2You say,* ‘We know that God’s judgement on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.’ 3Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgement of God? 4Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgement will be revealed. 6For he will repay according to each one’s deeds: 7to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. 9There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,10but glory and honour and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11For God shows no partiality.
All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. 15They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them 16on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.

These are all good reasons to be cheerful ... and accepting ... Christians I think ... well, I believe actually.  What say you???


If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishing.com/bookstore-marketplace/children-s-books/michael-and-the-new-baby/

Thursday, February 21, 2013

ISS Update: Robonaut 2 January 2013

 Catching up with the work of my favorite droid these days. I understand Robonaut's has also handled that tedious job of checking the air flow through the vents and did it very well. I wonder how soon this droid gets legs?


If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishing.com/bookstore-marketplace/children-s-books/michael-and-the-new-baby/

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"Pulling Yourself Up by Your Bootstraps" Nonsense

For decades we've used the pull yourself up by your bootstraps story as a means to prove anyone can get ahead and to beat those who don't about the head and shoulders, to shame them for their life circumstances, and to wash our hands of helping them in any way. Sure, there are a precious, lucky few who manage the feat against the odds, but here's why for most the bootstrap story is a vile myth.

First, what is poverty. To be poor is to be entirely under-equipped to face nearly every aspect of human existence today. Poverty falls into six pernicious snares, most or all of which the truly poor fall into and struggle mightily against. These six snares are: material poverty (there's an obvious one), vulnerability, powerlessness, isolation, physical weakness, and spiritual poverty (yeah, I have my M.Div. degree).


Let's look at each snare a little more closely (watch out, you might get drawn in, you might feel compelled to do something ... it's a risk). 

  1. To be materially poor means you and your family have little or no income, wealth of any sort, livestock, or land. 
  2. To be vulnerable means the poor person and his/her family have very few if any reserves against emergencies or disasters. They have no margin of safety in their lives. All their funds are taken up by struggling to live. It is impossible for the poor to save or protect themselves. When disasters strike, either natural or human, they can do nothing but suffer (and die, many die under such circumstances ... I'm sure you can think of many instances in the news without me naming them). Being this vulnerable can lead to abuse from within the household (mental, emotional, and sexual ... someone striving for power and control in twisted ways), which leads to substance abuse, increased vulnerability, and deeper poverty (by the way, October is domestic violence awareness month).
  3. To be powerless in this case means lacing in both the knowledge and therefore the ability to influence your society and your society's public policy. To be powerless in this way is to lack the tools necessary to have a voice and influence any sort of positive change for yourself, your family, and/or your community. See what not supporting your education system leads to in life?
  4. Isolation adds to the depth and desperation of this situation. The urban poor are isolated from goods and services that are readily available close at hand but that they simply cannot afford. However, the vast majority of the poor live in rural areas where they are physically isolated from information and services, including what most of us take for granted (until we're hit with some natural disaster and cut off from those services and that information temporarily ... and how we howl if the situation persists for any length of time and gives us a taste of poverty's isolation), including access to main roads, water lines, and electricity. Isolation from any means to wrestle free from poverty, including isolation from assets, good education, counselors, and safety nets, leads to depression, which isolates the poor further and tangles them ever deeper into poverty's snares. 
  5. Another snare comes in the form of physical weakness. This weakness may stem from many sources including inadequate medical care for illnesses, inadequate treatment for diseases, and too many dependents to care for (attempting to care for the very young and very old). Many women find themselves ensnared in this trap, struggling to maintain households with kids and the elderly present. 
  6. Finally, spiritual poverty occurs in households suffering from dysfunctional relationships with both God and each other. Those who have no faith institutions to offer them with help against the other five snares have lost a vital safety net. Further, they have no guidance in a different way of living in the world that is provided in healthy faith communities. (I hope you appreciate how hard I'm working not to preach here ...)
So, true poverty is all encompassing. It is hateful to speak of bootstraps to people who cannot purchase the boots, and even if they had them, would not be physically strong enough to pull them up nor equipped in other ways to make proper use of them. That old saw is mean-spirited and far too often used (along with other pernicious myths like the "welfare queen") to absolve us of guilt for not being proactive in helping the poor. And before you fall back on the line, "But Jesus said we'd have the poor with us always," let me provide some other verses you might find more illuminating (and if you think about that line really hard you might find that it is more of an indictment of us and our behavior rather than an excuse): 
Isaiah 1:16-17
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;    remove the evil of your doings    from before my eyes; cease to do evil,
   learn to do good; seek justice,    rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan,    plead for the widow.

James 1:27
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Matthew 25:31-46
31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ 41Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” 

Of course, having the old bootstraps saying disproven, how will we help the poor out of these pernicious six snares? What say you???


If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishing.com/bookstore-marketplace/children-s-books/michael-and-the-new-baby/

Bill Moyers Essay: The Ghost of Joe McCarthy | Moyers & Company | BillMoyers.com

Here is a little over nine minute essay well worth giving a listen. Our vitriol has reach vile depths once resounding through the halls of Congress in the 1950s that I think we would be smart not to revisit. What do you think?

Bill Moyers Essay: The Ghost of Joe McCarthy | Moyers & Company | BillMoyers.com


If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishing.com/bookstore-marketplace/children-s-books/michael-and-the-new-baby/

Monday, February 18, 2013

Using Social Media to Help Adults Relieve Shyness

Shyness is a plague on many houses. This is not to be mistaken with being an introvert instead of an extrovert, not at all. Shyness revolves around the following reactions and feeds upon itself:

  • Fear of specific social situations
  • Self-preoccupation to the extreme
  • When around particular types of folks, one feels uncomfortable and awkward (and I'm not talking angry bar brawlers here)
  • Unable to express your own thoughts and feelings to others
  • social skills deficit
  • self-esteem in the tank
  • inhibited from taking desirable, familiar actions
  • heart and breathing rates spiking when hit by a bout of shyness
You are not alone in this if you are so plagued. The situation may have developed long ago from some difficult childhood moment or period. It is amazing how early problems stick with us, no matter what we have become in later life. Roughly 40% of 10,000 people surveyed in one report consider themselves actively shy and another 40% say they were shy in the past. You are most definitely in good company, although your shyness may not allow you to see this. 

So, would you like to shake shyness? Would you like to leave behind the loneliness, the lack of firm friendships, the trouble speaking with others, the trouble you have presenting yourself positively to others although you are truly a wonderful person (and you are), and throw aside your desire to avoid intimate contact. 

Well, here are things to do: 

  • Stop making negative statements about yourself, to yourself and others. It is not modest humor; it is destructive.
  • Practice speaking and thinking well of yourself.
  • Slowly, carefully develop appropriate social skills (and this is where social media can help, gradually)
  • Work at noticing when your heart rate and breathing are climbing and recognize that it is stress related. Breathe deeply and try not to give it undo concern. It will pass. Tell yourself that and turn your attention outward. (Unless of course you are carrying very heavy objects or climbing steep staircases and then you may want to pay attention and stop for a breather.)
Working on those social skills can be truly difficult for the shy. So, start with baby steps. Set yourself up a Facebook page, inviting people you know to join your page, liking sites with interests similar to yours (which will give you topics of conversation ready made for social functions you need to attend) ... and there are tons ... through which you'll meet like-minded folks, and start your own blog site based on some subject that interests you (and do not judge yourself by low attendance to your blog site at first ... there's huge numbers of them out there and it takes time to get noticed ... do not use this as an opportunity to judge yourself). 

In these ways, you will slowly start to interact with others. You will get used to expressing yourself in small ways, at times very small ways, and learning that the results of doing so are not devastating rejection (if someone treats you cruelly in response to something you say, you may have found a troll. Use that as an opportunity not to wither under the wrong-headed and cruel critique, but to say (if only to yourself for now) that person has no idea what he/she is talking about and I will not give his/her idea any weight in my life or make me assess myself negatively. The blog will help you present yourself and your interests in a positive light as well. Give yourself strong guidelines to follow in relation to what you say about yourself from the bullet points above. Also follow a simple rule: don't say anything about yourself that you wouldn't tell a perfect stranger on first meeting (and since you're shy, you know how limited that is [joke from someone who knows]). 

In time, and it may take years, doing all these things together, you may one day discover yourself inviting a friend out to lunch ... probably via Facebook messaging ... and be excited and pleased when they accept. In time. Give it time. In the meantime, social media is a good way to practice those healthy social skills that you will later use in public when you meet people face to face and stand up for yourself. 

Good luck. Remember, you are far from alone out there! 

[Information provided by the Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling, pp. 1165-1166]


If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishing.com/bookstore-marketplace/children-s-books/michael-and-the-new-baby/

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Curiosity Drills on Mars


Moving on to a rock on a different planet entirely, one that will not come hurtling through our atmosphere and detonate ... Curiosity has successfully drilled into a promising Martian rock. Now we know the entire suite of instruments is working as they should and the roving lab is ready for future discoveries. Good news!


If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishing.com/bookstore-marketplace/children-s-books/michael-and-the-new-baby/

Russian City Hit by Meteor: 1,200 People Hurt

 NASA estimated that this piece of space rock weighed in at roughly 7,000 tons. It was moving at hypersonic speed, traveling at roughly 40,000 mph. When it exploded 18 to 32 miles above Chelyabinsk, the detonation was the equivalent of 20 atomic bombs, or 300 to 500 kilotons of energy. The trail it left across the sky from its rapid, fiery descent was 300 miles long. Over 1,100 of the residents were injured in the blast.

I joked with friends yesterday that it was fortunate this wasn't the old Cold War era or we might have been in World War III right now, caused by a Soviet counter-strike for what would have been believed to be an American attack. It's not so funny when you read that Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a nationalist leader apparently of the old school, who blamed a new American weapon for the destruction.

Now, this was a comparatively small rock that fortunately detonated high in the atmosphere. We might not be so lucky next time. Isn't it about time we actually started tracking these wandering leftovers of the solar system's formation and figuring out how to nudge them out of orbits that will intersect ours?

Details from Jim Heintz and Vladimir Isachenkov of Associated Press, as reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer.


If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishing.com/bookstore-marketplace/children-s-books/michael-and-the-new-baby/

Friday, February 15, 2013

Russian Meteor Caught on Camera

More early coverage of the meteor impact over Russia. One heavy rock explodes traveling at high speed anywhere between 16 and 35 km above the surface and 900 people are reported injured so far, up from 400-500 person estimates this morning. Windows blew out and a wall collapsed. Further reports to come.


If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishing.com/bookstore-marketplace/children-s-books/michael-and-the-new-baby/

Apocalypse Now? Meteorite hits Russia lighting sky, shattering windows

We are small, the universe is very big. Every now and then, something drops in to remind us. Glad no one was seriously injured ... no nation mistook this natural event for the opening salvo in a war. Fortunately, the asteroid passing by today, will not also drop in for a visit.


If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishing.com/bookstore-marketplace/children-s-books/michael-and-the-new-baby/

Time to Drop the Mask of Cocksure Confidence

Today we have an ability to communicate across all boundaries, both natural and human made, as never before through an amazing array of technologies. Yet, in so many cases, what should be communication is reduced to cocksure pontification. The dictionary definition of cocksure is: Feeling perfect assurance sometimes on inadequate grounds or  marked by overconfidence or presumptuousness: COCKY. The adverb is cocksurely and the noun cocksureness, just in case you want to deploy cocksurely them in your communication ... or on a Scrabble board if you get the chance. 

This leads to some tremendously dull behavior and has increasingly weird results. All those cocky posturing is leading us into entrenched battle lines, forming camps and alliances with one posturing position or another, usually to our mutual deficit. 

Recently, I read an article stating that only 11 percent of the religious groups in the United States actually are opposed to either the Big Bang theory or evolution on religious grounds. And yet, given the noisy, cocksure posturing of these organizations, we have bent our educational system as a whole below the college level to favor their cocksure stance. The lamentable result has been that 41 percent of the faithful now take a stance against these rather significant scientific advancements largely based on a lack of knowledge about what they mean and a definite lack of understanding about the position of their own faith communities. In the end, those who don't believe now far outnumber the organizations who take a cocksure opposing stance. I believe the same could be true in the environmental arena and other areas where our masks of undue, cocksure confidence might actually lead to our own extinction ... or at least tremendous misery for our children and theirs for many long centuries in the future. 

In N.T. Wright's book The Last Word, he speaks about our taking definitive stances based not on what is so, but what we think is so, in this case about the leaders of the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century and what they stood for (over which some of us argue endlessly and cocksurely), much to the detriment of what we'd like to accomplish in the world today. I turn the lectern over to the author: 

What we miss today, as we read the Reformers, is something which is vital within scripture itself but which, in their attention to the details, they were not concerned to stress: the great narrative of God, Israel, Jesus, and the world, coming forward into our own day and looking ahead to the eventual renewal of all things. ... the Reformer's insistence on the authority of scripture made several important points, but left many other matters open for further discussion. Of one thing we may be absolutely sure. If the Reformers could return and address us today, they would not say, "We got it all right; you must follow our exegesis and theology and implement it precisely as it stands." What they would say is, "You must follow our method: read and study scripture for all it's worth, and let it do its work in the world, in and through you and your churches." They would not be surprised if, as a result, we came up at some points with different, or differently nuanced, theological and practical proposals. They would encourage us to go where scripture led, using all the tools available to us, and being prepared to challenge all human traditions, including the "Reformation" traditions themselves, insofar as scripture itself encourages us to do so. 
To go further, on scholarship as it relates to the Bible, always a noisy bone of contention in many quarters, N.T. Wright adds ...


To affirm "the authority of scripture" is precisely not to say, "We know what scripture means and don't need to raise any more questions." It is always a way of saying that the church in each generation must make fresh and rejuvenated efforts to understand scripture more fully and live by it more thoroughly, even if that means cutting across cherished traditions. 

Author Donald J. Brash in The Indispensable Guide to God's Word states: 
I believe God's intention for the Bible is to testify to and to anchor the continuing dialogue between God our Creator and humanity. Just as God shepherded the Bible's formation, the Holy Spirit stirs our interpretation of it, as we seek God's guidance in faith.  
In our cocksure posturing, we've painted ourselves into mental corners in many ways. One would be the "postmodern" proposition that divining the meaning of any text is impossible as no one can understand the author's intent. Therefore, the authority of any text is entirely based on the "... attitude of individuals and communities toward it; the local community determines valid interpretation." (Brash 2010, 95) I'll avoid my own cocksure, masked response to that one ... although it would be negative. I myself am a writer and if I truly felt that I could not communication to others across time and space with the use of language and all its related functions and tools, I would have set aside the keyboard long ago. (Oops, there I go.)

These are just a few very small examples of the mountain of research against this ridiculous stance, this preening, over-proud positioning, and these sweeping declarations against all evidence to the contrary. I know we have lots of models given to us through our myriad communication tools to follow in cocksure confidence, whether deserved or not. Why not be countercultural today, set aside the mask, and rather than falling back on the foolish retort, "Well, that's your opinion. We all have a right to our own opinions." actually do some humbling, fascinating research with the very same tools we have, and the one we seem to be avoiding in our posturing, our brains. Doing that together, in a community that respects each other and listens to the discoveries we all make, we might just be able to find some way out of the morass of wild, angry shouting accomplishing nothing and get some truly creative, worthwhile work done together. 

Who knows where that could lead???

SIDEBAR: 

If I can't convince you, perhaps this episode of Radio Lab, "Are You Sure," will help, especially the last story. However, DO NOT listen to that final story with small children or especially sensitive people in the room. Please refrain from listening to that final story if you have been physically assaulted and cannot bear hearing of a woman in a similar situation. That said: http://www.radiolab.org/2013/mar/26/


If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishing.com/bookstore-marketplace/children-s-books/michael-and-the-new-baby/



Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sometimes Having No Easy Answer Is a Good Thing ...: Good News From Christianity

Not having an intellectually satisfying answer to one of life's most vexing questions, "If there is a loving God, why is there evil in the world?" and any of it's myriad permutations, proves to be a very good thing.


Brian D. McLaren writer in his book Naked Spirituality
“…we are in some sense better off not having satisfying answers to vexing intellectual questions about why suffering, evil, and pain exist in the world. If we can say, “Oh, there’s a clear reason for this,” we can remain aloof, safe in the cool and lofty realm of impersonal logic in relation to human suffering. We can explain instead of empathize, theorize instead of pray, and answer instead of act. But in the absence of a satisfying logical explanation for human suffering, we must descend from our brains into our hearts and respond to the suffering of others with tears and action, not just words and more words.”
So, in this case, don't chase after answers. Respond to others who suffer instead, and hope that they will do the same for you when it is your turn for pain. I think McLaren's declaration in the face of this logical deficit is a wonderful way to live life in this often difficult world: 
“For a fellow creature to be in pain and without help in God’s universe is simply unacceptable to both God and me. So I will go in between the two. I will grasp the hand of God with one hand and grasp the hand of my neighbor in pain with the other. I will join God in willing comfort, blessing, peace, and grace for my sister or brother in need.”
Will you reach out your hand today?


If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishing.com/bookstore-marketplace/children-s-books/michael-and-the-new-baby/

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Take Care of Our Cities

I'm going to haul out an old idea, not astronomically old, not even P.T. Barnum old, but old by today's nanosecond standards. We need to take care of our cities and their peoples for a great many reasons. However, if one needs to feel the need to protect one's own self interests to act ... consider diffusion. In diffusion, ideas, technologies, culture, etc. moves from one area to another, spreading over space and time. Diffusion begins in large population hubs (cities) and spreads outward. The idea of the dining room for example began in cities and eventually moved out into the rural landscape over many years.

The good and the bad diffuses. At this point in time our cities are hotbeds of all sorts of developments, including violence. Many will say they don't need to worry about the violence perpetrated in cities as they live far from those places and will never, ever go there. Well, the violence you see on the news in the cities today will be the violence in the streets of your little town or rural community in the future. In one city, when 2,000 troops died in Afghanistan, 5,000 were murdered in the same period in that single city. And the violent folks are getting ever more creative in their forms of violence and their weapons of choice.

I won't continue. I could really preach here. However, instead, consider working hard to take care of the city nearest to you. Work for its welfare, for its people and their well being. Build up what is good, what is best in humanity there in the cities, and let that diffuse out into the rest of the nation so that you too can reap a wonderful harvest, rather than a bloody one. Don't end up like old Aunt Pittypat in Gone With the Wind, who lamented in confusion, "Yankees in Georgia. However, did they get here?"


If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishing.com/bookstore-marketplace/children-s-books/michael-and-the-new-baby/