Wednesday, May 31, 2006
  More Thoughts on God...
Excellent and ongoing discussion about yesterday's post.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
  Tell Me All Your Thoughts On God...
Codemorse points us to an interview with Karen Armstrong former nun and authour of A History of God among other things.

I read some of that book and ultimately decided that it wasn't worth my time to read it all. I did read the interview and thought I'd respond to some of her points.

You say one of the common messages in all these religions was what we now call the Golden Rule. And Confucius was probably the first person who came up with this idea.

All these sages, with the exception of the Greeks, posited a counter-ideology to the violence of their time. The safest way to get rid of egotism was by means of compassion. The first person to promulgate the Golden Rule, which was the bedrock of this empathic spirituality, was Confucius 500 years before Christ. His disciples asked him, "What is the single thread that runs through all your teaching and pulls it all together?" And Confucius said, "Look into your own heart. Discover what it is that gives you pain. And then refuse to inflict that pain on anybody else." His disciples also asked, "Master, which one of your teachings can we put into practice every day?" And Confucius said, "Do not do to others as you would not have them do to you." The Buddha had his version of the Golden Rule. Jesus taught it much later. And Rabbi Hillel, the older contemporary of Jesus, said the Golden Rule was the essence of Judaism.

Fine except that I think the Golden Rule as taught by Jesus differs in a small but important way. He said as recorded in Matthew 7:12 "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." First Christ promotes good action. Do something good. is not the same as Don't do something bad. In addition Jesus believed that these principles could be found in the Law and the Prophets.

What is religion?

Religion is a search for transcendence. But transcendence isn't necessarily sited in an external god, which can be a very unspiritual, unreligious concept. The sages were all extremely concerned with transcendence, with going beyond the self and discovering a realm, a reality, that could not be defined in words. Buddhists talk about Nirvana in very much the same terms as monotheists describe God.

I don't really think so. Monotheists (again going back to the OT) saw God as a very personal father figure. Even in the Garden Adam and Eve walked with God. Is this true of Nirvana? More on this in a bit.

In my book "A History of God," I pointed out that the most eminent Jewish, Christian and Muslim theologians all said you couldn't think about God as a simple personality, an external being. It was better to say that God did not exist because our notion of existence was far too limited to apply to God.

Don't know which theologians she talking about, but the Bble looks at God as a personality and a being outside of creation. I'll grant that our notion of existence is limited and that God is most assuredly not simple though.

Jesus did not spend a great deal of time discoursing about the trinity or original sin or the incarnation, which have preoccupied later Christians. He went around doing good and being compassionate.

Never mind that he said things like "The Father and I are one." Or that raising the dead and calming the seas qualify as a bit more than "doing good".

very often, the opinions of the deity are made to coincide exactly with those of the speaker

True dat. You do have to be careful not to put words in God's mouth.

People such as the Buddha thought miracles were rather vulgar -- you know, displays of power and ego. If you look at the healing miracles attributed to Jesus, they generally had some kind of symbolic aspect about healing the soul rather than showing off a supernatural power.

Miracles are displays of power. They display God's power over his creation, his power over death, his authority. If that's vulgar then I guess Buddha needs to take that up with God. Jesus healing miracles were a way for him to show that he had the authortiy to forgive sin.

Western people think the supernatural is the essence of religion, but that's rather like the idea of an external god. That's a minority view worldwide.

I'm comfortable with having a minority view on this matter.

Her answers to the questions on fundamentalism, reading scripture and the hard work of religion are all good thoughts though and this is spot on.

Is faith a struggle?

Well, faith is not a matter of believing things. That's again a modern Western notion. It's only been current since the 18th century. Believing things is neither here nor there, despite what some religious people say and what some secularists say. That is a very eccentric religious position, current really only in the Western Christian world. You don't have it much in Judaism, for example.

Faith is far more than some sort of intellectual assent to something. And in closing she has one more thing to say that I also agree with in regards to how our Christian culture sees heaven:

People can perform their good deeds in the spirit of putting their installments in their retirement annuities. And there's nothing religious about that. Religion is supposed to be about the loss of the ego, not about its eternal survival.
  X3: The Last Stand
Monday, May 29, 2006
  Memorial Day...
Just a post to say that this has been a great Memorial Day/celebration of my oldest's sixth birthday. And also to say that the spousal unit and I shall be partaking of X3 in T minus 150 minutes.
Friday, May 26, 2006
  Long Distance Anger...
I've noticed and interesting phenomena on the 'net. It happens through e-mails, message boards, and all manner of other ways that we communicate electronically. Somebody makes a statement (or doesn't), someone else takes offense (where none was intended) , and the whole thing escalates until it either explodes and people engage in flame wars or it immediately collapses into a black hole.

This has happened to me a few times and to other people I know more than once. And it's hard to know how to deal with it. If you ask before getting offended ("Did you really mean this in this way?") then you might come across as overly sensitive. Too often you end up assuming the worst and don't do anything to correct that mistake. Heck I've had this happen with people I live in the same town with.

If you are reading this and you have a long distance friendship that has turned cool because of something along these lines then you need to take steps to fix it. How do you do that?

If you're still angry then you need to repent, especially if that anger has caused you to sin. And remember, repentance is not just about God. Christian or not you need to go to that person and say, "Look, I messed up. I got angry and I'm not sure that I had just cause." Anger is almost always a fruit of either insecurity or selfishness, both inward turning. It's not about you, it's about relationship. It's up to you to restore that. (Eph. 4:26)

After you've done that you can start looking ahead. If it's someone you're in a relationship with (be that a friendship or a more romantic thing) then it's your responsibility to be "slow to anger". You know this person (at least on some level. Ask yourself after reading something that they wrote, "Would they really do this thing to me? Is there any possibility that I'm reading this wrong?" Then you need to risk looking like a weenie and going to them for clarification. What's worse, looking like a weenie or losing a friend? (1 Cor. 13:5 James 1:19)

As time moves forward we'll continue to rely on the written word to communicate and in a fast paced world that missive will not always be as well written as the letters of generations past. With that in mind you also have another charge. Before you click "Send" or "Post" re-read what you wrote. Do it as best you can while divorcing yourself from any knowledge of intent. If you can have a machine read it out loud (easy enough with a Mac) then do so. Is there anything in your writing that can be misconstrued? Does what you're writing speak in a way that makes your intent clear? I'm not saying that we can't engage in sarcasm. I think the net would implode if the barbs between friends (or even enemies) stopped completely. And I'm definitely not an advocate of smiley faces. I use them from time to time, but I think you need to be a good enough writer to communicate you feelings via words alone.

All of this really only requires you to do one thing. Think. Think before you send. Think before you get angry. And talk. Okay that's two things. Talk to the other person, on the phone, face to face, whatever you can do. Hear the other person's voice from time to time. Email is great because it's free and if you're out you will still get the message, but it really shouldn't be a substitute for relationship.
Okay here's a snapshot of what's on my mind.


(No that's not the snapshot.) X3 coming out this weekend. W000T!!1!!!ONE!

I'm going to A-kon to be among freaky people and good friends (some of which are freaky people). So I'll be in Dallas from the 9th of June to the 11th. Much beer, good talking, watching of anime, and eating of raw fish is expected to happen.

From now on this is the first place I will go for movie news/commentary. Of course I will still go here, here, and here just not first (and never, ever here those people scare me).

SW:TPM in 3-D??? I haven't the words, but if I did I suspect that silk and a sow's ear would be involved.

A member of my wife's family (and by extension of mine I suppose) isn't doing to well.

Talking cars, pirates, Superman, a skeleton riding a wicked motorcycle, Garrison Keillor, snakes and planes, Satan, and houses eating children? This is gonna be a busy movie summer.

Have you been here? Have you seen this? The former gets updated every weekday and I WILL bring the latter back from the dead.

Need to laugh? (Humor involving alcohol and profanity)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006
  Up, up, and away!

The latest Superman trailer rocks! Especially the last scene. Potential spoilers?

Sunday, May 21, 2006
  Sex, Love, and Video Tape
Well the weekend was truly awesome. We talked about love, commitment, good sex, conflict resolution, predestination, the whole ball of wax. The Song of Solomon is a much deeper book than I understood and I’m looking forward to continuing our study.

There was one passage in chapter five that we found didn’t quite mesh with what Tommy was saying. The bridegroom visits the bride in the middle of the night and she tells him that she doesn’t want to get out of bed. She changes her mind and when she goes to the door to let him in there’s a passage about myrrh being on the door handle. She goes out and he’s not there. She goes outside and gets attacked by the city guards.

Tommy said that the bridegroom put myrrh on the door as a gesture of love and that the attack was God’s retribution for her refusal to let him in. I see where he was going with it, but a plain reading of the passages doesn’t say that. I’ll be checking out some commentaries. His steps in conflict resolution that he gleaned from the scripture was dead on though. Don’t react emotionally to your spouse when they start conflict. Love them. Don’t try and change them, let God do it. Keep lines of communication open and talk about what’s going on. Forgive them their sin against you and put it behind you.

I have a bad tendency in a fight to get all cold and logical and if that gets no result (typically the case) I go for the silent treatment. It was good to think about healthier ways to handle conflict and it’s all really stuff that I already know, but sorely needed reminding of.

I’m glad to be headed back to the hose and can’t wait to see the kids. It was good to get away and just have some adult conversation and peace and quiet, but I miss the hugs, smiles, laughs, and complexity that children bring. As often as I imagine how much simpler life would be without them (as every parent does from time to time no doubt) I wouldn’t have things any other way.

I’m looking forward to bringing the whole crew back up to Montreat some day soon. It’s absolutely gorgeous. We got to experience some of the little shops downtown, including a fantastic place called Chocolate Gems where I had an Earl Grey tea truffle and an ancho/chipotle truffle. I love Winston Salem and would find it hard to ever leave, but if I did I have a hunch I’d like to call Black Mountain home.

Click here to see some mountain pics.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
  Let's Talk About Sex Bay-bee...
Gas money - $30
Cabin cleaning service - $25
Groceries for the meal we cook - $15
Spending a weekend with some friends talking about sex, marriage, and the Song of Solomon. - Priceless.

Seriously. We're spending the weekend in a cabin (really a HUUUUUE multi family house) eating good food, laughing, and studying SoS with the aid of some DVD's from Tommy Nelson, a pastor in Texas. And naturally this is without the kiddos, so it's been a blast. I'll post some pics and what I learned later.
Thursday, May 18, 2006

You've probably heard of it, but if not here's a wiki on it. As they say though a picture's worth a thousand words.

  Stretching Your Brain...
I'm reading on the bus and I've decided to catch up on some heavy theological reading. If you ever want to stretch your brain, understanding of God, and vocabulary all at once, read Calvin's Institutes.

One of the things I'm working through theologically is the concept of general revelation. That is that God is revealed in everything around us sufficient that man has no grounds to say "There is no god." It's not specific enough to reveal God's nature (that would be specific revelation). He spends quite a bit of time on that subject in the first few chapters of Book 1.

I particularly like this passage:

Since the perfection of blessedness consists in the knowledge of God, he has been pleased, in order that none might be excluded from the means of obtaining felicity, not only to deposit in our minds that seed of religion of which we have already spoken, but so to manifest his perfections in the whole structure of the universe, and daily place himself in our view, that we cannot open our eyes without being compelled to behold him. His essence, indeed, is incomprehensible, utterly transcending all human thought; but on each of his works his glory is engraven in characters so bright, so distinct, and so illustrious, that none, however dull and illiterate, can plead ignorance as their excuse. Hence, with perfect truth, the Psalmist exclaims, “He covereth himself with light as with a garment,” (Psalm 104:2); as if he had said, that God for the first time was arrayed in visible attire when, in the creation of the world, he displayed those glorious banners, on which, to whatever side we turn, we behold his perfections visibly portrayed. In the same place, the Psalmist aptly compares the expanded heavens to his royal tent, and says, “He layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters, maketh the clouds his chariot, and walketh upon the wings of the wind,” sending forth the winds and lightnings as his swift messengers. And because the glory of his power and wisdom is more refulgent in the firmament, it is frequently designated as his palace. And, first, wherever you turn your eyes, there is no portion of the world, however minute, that does not exhibit at least some sparks of beauty; while it is impossible to contemplate the vast and beautiful fabric as it extends around, without being overwhelmed by the immense weight of glory. Hence, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews elegantly describes the visible worlds as images of the invisible (Heb. 11:3), the elegant structure of the world serving us as a kind of mirror, in which we may behold God, though otherwise invisible. For the same reason, the Psalmist attributes language to celestial objects, a language which all nations understand (Psalm 19:1), the manifestation of the Godhead being too clear to escape the notice of any people, however obtuse. The apostle Paul, stating this still more clearly, says, “That which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead,” (Rom. 1:20).

Too often I get caught up in the day to day and forget the beauty that God has surrounded us with as a reminder of Himself.
  PvP on Intel Macs...
I love PvP and this sums up my impression of the changes in Macs perfectly.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006
  Dogfish Head Brewery...
I should get a food/beer button, I really should. Anyway...

Dogfish Head how I love thee. Beer snob I may be, but their beer is superb and I really want this:

Espresso Bock
Availability: Available at the Rehoboth Beach brewpub while supplies last!

Release Date: 5/3/06

Dogfish Head Espresso Bock

Our Espresso Bock was made with actual Espresso Beans & 5 Malt Varieties. It is a dark brown color with attractive garnet highlights. The bouquet is noticably coffee-like. The malty-sweet flavor is complimented by the roasty, chocolate notes of the espresso beans and balanced by a medium to full body. Try this delicious offering with our Chicory Stout Rib-eye, our sweet-n-spicy BBQ ribs, or one of our homemade pastries!

Bottom fermented, a Bock beer is named for the famous medieval German brewing town of Einbeck. The style is generally a heavy bodied lager and is darkened by high-coloured malts. Bock is traditionally brewed in the winter time for drinking during the Spring.

Bocks have a long history of being brewed and drunk by Catholic monks in Germany. During the Spring religious season of Lent, monks were required to fast. Bock beers are higher in food energy and nutrients than other beers, thus providing sustenance during the holiday.

Many bock beer producers have displayed goats on bottle labels since Bock in German means billy goat. In the local dialect, Einbeck is pronounced similar to "Einbock", which sounds like ein Bock (a goat).

30 IBU's 7.5% ABV

but alas it's only available in Delaware. *sigh*
Monday, May 15, 2006
  MTV to get into...
the music business. Specifically the online music business.

The service will be called URGE and:

It comes integrated into the latest version of Microsoft's Windows Media Player, which Windows users will soon receive as an upgrade. Before then,the player upgrade will be available for download at the URGE and Microsoft websites.

At launch, URGE will have more than two million tracks, which can be bought individually for US99c ($1.29) or as full albums starting at about $US9.95.

The service will offer unlimited downloads at a monthly rate of $US9.95, or $US14.95 for the ability to transfer songs to any of more than 100 compatible portable music players.

Initially, URGE will feature streaming video, with video downloads becoming available to buy later this year.

URGE will be the featured music service on Microsoft's Media Player, which will continue to have built-in links to several other services.

More at Australian IT.
Friday, May 12, 2006
Oh and while I'm pimpin' web sites, I'll pimp the tech blog again. Got to dev/irregulars for all things techie that I (and a select few) find cool and interesting.
Matt and Jabba blog the hard stuff so I don't have to.

We're talking:
presidents being all cra-zazy

Go read their stuff (just take your asbestos earmuffs).
  New Chance for a Fallen Idol...
This is the first season of Idol I've watched and it is due in large part to Taylor, Chris, and Elliot. This week Chris got voted off because he didn't have breasteses. However it looks like this won't be his last shot according to Extra.

Chris Daughtry Gets 'Idol' Boot and Offer of a Lifetime
May 11, 2006

Twenty-eight million jaws dropped to the floor Wednesday night as Chris Daughtry got voted off “American Idol.” But don’t think this rocker is down and out.

Only “Extra” broke big news about Chris that’s making headlines from Ryan Seacrest’s radio show to stations across the country.

“You have an offer to be the lead singer of a major band,” Ryan revealed to Chris Thursday morning on his hit radio show. “Theyre going to be on ‘Extra’ tonight, and they’re going to submit the formal offer for you.”

Thursday, Fuel bass player Jeff Abercrombie and songwriter/guitarist Carl Bell came straight to “Extra” with the offer of a lifetime -- they want Chris.

"Chris, if you are watching, we've talked about this before, and if you want to entertain it again we'll take it and go," Abercrombie offered.

Chris’ rendition of Fuel’s “Hemorrhage” was his first groundbreaking “Idol” performance. The band, which has been searching for a lead singer, saw Chris’ performance and they want him in the band.

Well Chris, it’s up to you, but first “Extra” has another “Idol” exclusive. Our Terri Seymour was with Ryan and Randy for LA’s FOX 11 just moments after Chris’ shocking send off.

"Obviously, it wasn't based on singing tonight because the wrong person went home," Randy admitted. "Catherine probably should have gone home tonight."

It’s down to the final three, and Simon came to “Extra” telling us now there are no favorites. “The funny thing about this show is when someone goes, you never know where their votes are going to go,” Simon confessed. “I genuinely don't know who is going to win.”

I'm not a Fuel fan (don't have any feelings either way really) though I did like the song of theirs that he sung, so I'm not sure how good of a move this would be for him. But my guess is that this can't be bad.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
  How to Eat Fried Worms...
I loved this book as a kid. I believe that there was also a Saturday TV special of it as well. Now, there's a movie. I saw the trailer in front of RV. It was actually pretty cute with a healthy dash of gross out humor, but 98 minutes worth? We'll see. Or probably we won't.
  Blade TV Series and HB2...
I loved the movies. Most of that was Wesley Snipes and Mr. Kristofferson, but a vampire half breed hunting vampires with a sword is so cool in general. I've known about the TV series coming up for a while, but I cruised by deltorofilms.com/ and saw this update (fyi both sites linked to have a hot woman in a neckline that doesn't so much plunge as plummet):

Spike TV has put a wild new site online promoting the new Blade TV series, starring Kirk "Sticky" Jones. It is at HouseofChthon.com, and it plays like a recruiting site for a sort-of erotic, self-healing cult, which is obviously the vamps. Cool.

Also, go here to register for a contest to win 1) A trip to Vancouver to visit the set of Blade, 2) Blade 1, 2, or Trinity DVD's, or 3) a pair of Oakley sunglasses.

Kirk "Sticky" Jones talked with SciFi Wire about his upcoming portrayal of Blade in the new Spike TV series.

"Well, first and foremost, I think Blade is going to be a little more street," said Jones, a rap musician who was last seen on F/X's war series Over There. "He's going to have a little more of that human side and a sense of humor, but then it's going to be the same Blade that everybody knows."

Blade as more "street" could be good or bad. I'm guessing bad and hoping for good. Bad = Flava Flav. Good = Ice-T.

And in closing, some Hellboy 2 news:

According to SciFi Wire, Hellboy star Ron Perlman has hinted that the long-awaited sequel may be announced soon.

"What that means? I know they're incredibly close. I know that there's one studio in particular that I probably shouldn't name [that] is pounding away at looking at the budget and has expressed a huge enthusiasm for [Guillermo] del Toro's script and the desire to do the project. Now they're just pushing numbers around. And I wouldn't be surprised if it's announced very soon."
  Foxes in the Henhouse...
or something.

Dan Phillips at Team Pyro drops some science about how women in church can make things... difficult for the brothers.

Now you should know that he's not excusing the weakness of men or blaming women in any way. And he's not suggesting (in as far as I can tell) that women should all wear burlap. And I'm also sure that he's not talking to women who are a)not Christians and are visiting a church or b)new converts who may just be unaware.

I, like him, think that people who go to church should dress modestly and not just in the church. There's plenty of scripture to back that up (and he provides it). And I'll go so far to say that that modesty doesn't apply just to sexuality. I see men and women going to church wearing suits/shoes/etc that cost more than I make in a month. Could that money better go elsewhere? This rule of thumb can also be applied to other expenditures (cars, houses, toys).

I'm not trying to add new laws and I'm not jealous (okay not much), but think about it. How are we to live and what message do we want to send? We're talking about spiritual warfare in church and how the little lies we hear lead to big sin. I think one of these little lies might be, "If people think you're prosperous and you give God the glory for it then that's okay." Or maybe "God wants his children to be well taken care of financially. He's a good provider." Neither of those things are necessarily untrue, but they can rapidly lead to a prosperity gospel

I'm not saying that Christians who drive Hummers are bad Christians or even bad people (though unless you're wearing olive drab I think it's in bad taste). I am saying that we are to glorify God in all we do and say and maybe someone needs to sit me down and 'splain the glory in 3 MPG.
  Glad We Didn't Steal This One...
from the Brits.

I love Dr. Who and K9 was a cool companion but wow.
  For the Bond Villain Who Has Everything...
Have a sub -

Here are the details. This baby is the Phoenix 1000. It has 5000 sq. feet of luxury. It displaces 1500 tons and a docking mini sub. It'll cost $78 million, but for you, 77.9.

Now about the wisdom of naming this after a bird that dies in flames...
Monday, May 08, 2006
  Life Stuff...
This weekend flew by. I took the kids to a birthday party Saturday morning and out shopping in the afternoon while a friend helped Leigh redecorate/organize. We got a lot of stuff done around the house and I managed a nap Sunday to recover from the two of us herding nine two year olds in church nursery. We had a micro-date at Panera after small group and discussed how selfish we are as a race.

Today started off with a bang. I got up at five a.m. and slid down the stairs. I'd love to say it was on purpose, but it wasn't. I have serious rug burn on my elbow and will no doubt have a large stair shaped bruise on my butt. I took the bus into work and managed to read John 4 and 5 and the first chapter in the Four Loves. I was going to read more of my Westminster Confession book, but couldn't find it (guess what I found in my gym bag). I had a good though quick workout (women over thirty shouldn't have a belly button ring even if they are in good shape) and trekked through the jungle to get to work on foot. I was sure that there was a shortcut. Nope.

John 5:21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.

I am thankful that I am given life, both temporal and eternal. May it please God.
Friday, May 05, 2006
  Super Savior...
I have reviewed this book:

and I have called it good. If you like the Supes and/or the Christ, have at.

Sample chapter here.
  Another One Rides the Bus pt. Deux...
So I took a ride on PART this morning and it was quite nice. I think I shall definitely be doing this on a regular basis. I encourage you to look into mass transit in your own area.
I read about this

here first and it sounded interesting. I got to try it yesterday and it wasn't bad. It's basically Coke+Coffee. I think they use an artificial sweetener which gave it an off aftertaste, but I'd buy it again. It's cheaper than Sbux Doubleshot and has a nice caffeine kick.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
  Save the Internet...
Congress is pushing through a law that would permit large telephone and cable companies, like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, to control what you do, where you go and what you watch online.

Visit this URL to check out what's at stake and send a loud message directly to the Congress.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
  Another One Rides the Bus...
I think I'm gonna put my money and time where my mouth is and start using PART the local bus. It means a slightly longer morning routine, but a monthly pass is fifty bucks for unlimited rides and I spend about thirty a week in gas. And it's eco-friendly to boot. We'll see how it goes.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Well my third review has gone up over at HollywoodJesus.com which means I now have my own official blogspace there where you will be able to read all of my reviews, including my latest review of RV.

I'm also reviewing a book that looks at Superman and his parallels to Christ for that same site. Expect my review and possible interview there soon.

I watched 2/3's of Radio while donating platelets on Sunday and it was pretty good. I left before it was over so no fair "reviewing" it, but suffice to say I shall be renting it so I can watch the end.

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