Search This Blog

Monday, February 13, 2017

Fresh Studies in Matthew, Matthew 12 Again

I do seem to be stuck here, but there is reason to be. There are several indisputable claims to uniqueness here that, as Lewis says, you can dismiss as the ravings of a nut or take very seriously:

“I’m greater than the Sabbath.”  “I decide who is guiltless.”  “I interpret Old Testament Scripture.”   
One also gets the sense that Jesus is being followed around by the Pharisees. He doesn’t stop there, but heals a man after asked.  Their type of adherence to tradition, culture, and law had put moral blinders on them. If our version of God’s law hinders us from doing good, from showing compassion, we have misunderstood it. 
I have been so guilty of this, so focused in decorum versus freedom to serve.  The two are not enemies in God’s universe, just in our own application.  My son told me an interesting story last night. He was late for a meeting at work and found himself rationalizing why he had not helped a homeless man on the street in Dalton.  He said, “How messed up is that?”  Indeed; he had  a responsibility to his employer to be on time but a human responsibility to offer help, at least to make the offer.  These are not easy choices, but our faith is one of choices and intentionality and thinking through these matters, not rote obedience.

Why did the Pharisees in this passage decide to destroy Jesus?  Well, he made them look bad—not just unauthoritative, but mean.  “Is it lawful to do good (and give this man a working hand) on the Sabbath?”  They would have said no.  But—they started the conflict!  They lost at their own game.  Pride, control, fear of loss of position—this was part of why they opposed him.  They saw the future, at least as far as their own political and social situation was concerned.  Jesus did the healing also knowing what would happen.  He did not just make it a theoretical argument but acted upon the question about the Sabbath.  WE can talk about service to those on the margins but not follow through (which I think we do more than we get credit for, but there is plenty more to do). 
(Those on the margins may be a better term than "marginalized" because the past perfect makes them victims—being there was done to them by someone rather than just a statement of where they are.)

Verse 15 shifts it all, though.  BUT JESUS KNEW IT.  Is the imperfect or preterite?  He always knew it, not just in that moment. 

In Matthew 12:15-21:  Knowing the Pharisees’ opposition and plans to destroy him (not news but the five words say a lot), Jesus did not stop his ministry, he just moved to a place where they would be less likely to find him.  Perhaps there were “local chapters” of Pharisees United, since he’s out of Jerusalem and up in the Decapolis.  He warned the people not to reveal his whereabouts, and then Matthew cites one of the Servant passages in Isaiah, all of which are used to refer to Jesus in the Testament.

Two of the lines refer to Gentiles.  This may be why dispensationalists say there is a change in his ministry here.  Even though I’m not totally buying that, we can’t overlook the Gentile angle.  The other angle is that the Servant is not raucous, self-promoting, quarrelsome.  Like in Isaiah 53, as a lamb before her shearers is dumb, Jesus is silent.  His questioners prevail and yet the Gentiles will trust in him.

Matthew 12:18-21.
There is probably a whole book to be written about how Matthew uses prophecy from the Old Testament.  This is a prime example.  We would look at a phrase “and he warned them not to make him known” in v. 16 as of minor importance, but Matthew shows us it is a much bigger idea than that.  It ties Jesus to the Servant of Isaiah who “will not quarrel or cry out and of whom no one will hear his voice in the street . . . till he sends forth justice to victory.  It’s not just a parallel for Matthew; it is the fulfillment of prophecy.  Until the cross, when justice is sent forth to victory, he is not to be a ma of popularity or acclaim. 
He will be gentle, not putting out struggling fires of breaking things hat are already weak.  MacLaren, the Scottish preacher from the 1800s, says it is more; he will not just refrain from these actions, but he will bring the weak and struggling things to life and fullness and fruition.  The bruised reed will be restored and healed and the smoldering flame will come to full flame. 

The day before I read this, I had an experience of “looking down” on a group of Christian people.  Not only was I not bringing the flame to fullness, I was indirectly putting it out.  I can’t help everyone, but I can get out of the way.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The People vs. OJ

Man.  I got hooked on this on NetFlix, mostly because a former student was a background actress in it and I wanted to see her.  I didn't because I was too caught up in the show.  I can't say I recommend it because it will take eight to nine hours of your life that would be much better spent on helping your neighbor, learning a new skill, praying, etc.  But it was addictive.  I did not pay much attention to the trial when it happened, I confess.  I think I had a life to live at the time.  At the time I just couldn't believe OJ would do such a horrendous crime so I chose not to accept that he was guilty, but I soon knew better.

My outstanding (in my mind, not in quality) thoughts:
1.  Considering the race relations at that time, perhaps it was best that he was acquitted to avoid a repeat of the riots in L.A.  Since he will be in jail for a while still, is disgraced, lost everything, etc., justice was done.  He would never have been executed anyway, so disgrace, poverty, and decades in jail is just.
2.  I have to wonder if the Kardashians were behind financing this program because their dad really comes off well, like one of the few decent people.  Although one has to wonder how he could be so good a friend with such a narcissist.
3.  Cuba Gooding was ok as OJ, but not the best pick. 
4.  Race relations have not improved much, according to the world created in this show. 
5.  The Goldmans were treated respectfully and that one scene with them and Marsha Clark was the only one I was emotionally involved in.  The rest was like watching a train wreck, sort of like the election returns in November.
6.  Black people in general do not come off that well, in my opinion.  I am surprised there wasn't more criticism of it on that score.  They come off as totally unconcerned about facts, only with symbolism of a black man on trial being let off. 
7.  I had no idea Mark Fuhrmann was such a horrible person.  I am shocked that he was a commentator on Fox News.  Consequently, I will not be watching Fox News again. 
8. At one point OJ says, "I'm not black, I'm OJ."  This is something he said at one time.  That is a gut-wrenching statement.
9.  Bob Shapiro recently says OJ still owes him money for the defense.  I guess a lot of people got shafted in this situation.



Some approaches to teaching Esther

I have changed the header on this blog to reflect that I post resources for teaching Scripture to small group.  Here is my resource for Esther.

The challenge of Esther is, of course, that the name of God is not mentioned, nor the covenant or even the law.  It is very Jewish, very sly, very dramatic, very providential.  I think it should just be taught as a whole and should not, I repeat, should not, be allegorized in any way.  I don't think any Scripture should be and should only be studied for what it is directly saying, which I realized cuts into some sermon approaches.

Why do I say sly?  Well, I mean humorous.  Think of these:
--> It is hard not to read Esther closely and see the humor or at least irony..
1.     The noblemen are afraid that their wives will misbehave because of Queen Vashti’s refusal to appear. 
2.     Haman thinks he’s the one who is going to be honored. 
3.     The king makes a law to destroy all the Jews and then forgets about it and honors Mordecai the Jew.
4.     Haman is  a big crybaby after Mordecai is honored.
5.     Haman’s wife is a shrew and worse than he is.
6.     The king is a fool and executes Haman because the king thinks he is trying to assault Esther rather than that he is trying to kill the Jews.
7.     The Persians could not just revoke  a law.  

I was going to start my lesson with this quiz, which might be a good way to pre-test to see how much Esther has seeped into their conciousness--or not.

-->
1.     Who is the king in the story of Esther? 
a.  Mordecai       b.  Ahasuerus       c.  Haman      d.  Cyrus        e. Darius

2.     Who is Esther’s relative and guardian?
a. Ezra        b. Haman      c.  Mordecai       d.  Ahasuerus      e.  Nehemiah

3.     Who is Vashti?
a.  the queen before Esther      b.  Esther’s maid
c.  Mordecai’s wife                      d.  Esther’s mother

4.     What does Vashti do?
a.     encourages Esther to approach the king
b.     discourages Esther from approaching the king
c.      accompanies Esther back to Jerusalem
d.     refuses to appear before the king and the nobles as the king’s feast

5.     Who is the villain in the story of Esther?
a. Ashasuerus      b.  Haman    c. Mordecai       d. Sanballat

6.     What country/empire is the setting for the story of Esther?
a. Babylonian       b. Assyrian     c.  Persia         d.  Egyptian

7.     The story of the book of Esther takes place:
a.     during the same time as Ezra and return from exile in Babylon
b.     several decades after the time of Ezra
c.      before the time of Ezra

8.     What is the big choice that Esther has to make?
a.     to leave Persia with her family and go back to Jerusalem
b.     to join a beauty contest to be in running for queen
c.      to enter the king’s presence to ask a request
d.     to not eat the food served her

9.     Why does Esther have to make her big choice?
a.     A decree from the king requires the execution of all the Jews
b.     Her family member is about to be executed for praying
c.      The king wants her to do something immoral
d.     She has to decide whether to return to Jerusalem and leave being queen

10. Esther and her family member had been born in Judah and brought as exiles to this pagan country.
a.  yes            b.  no

11. Esther’s Jewish name was
a. Hannah        b.  Hadassah    c.  Rachel        d.  Miriam

Some final takeways:
-->
1.     What are you here for?  What might be our “such a time as this”  that takes us out of our boxes and requires courage?
2.     What do tragic events in our lives mean? 
Humor? I heard a speaker this week say that if you can laugh at your tragedies, then you can conquer them.  Maybe.  I just think somethings are too awful to be laughed about. 
Theological lessons? (this teaches us about God).
Lessons about ourselves? (makes you stronger).
Existential? (that’s just life, live with it, keep going.) 
To become more like Christ?
           3.  God did not just preserve the direct line of Christ but his culture, too. 

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Hysteria Revisited

NPR again--apparently The Handmaid's Tale is now the novel of the age.  We are all going to be living in a patriarchal theocracy where the women are "Hagars" to Abrahams.

Yes, I've read it. Interesting enough book.  But why in the world would people on the left think that America was going to become like that?  Isn't the view of women in it more like the Muslim countries than a secular republic?

I do hesitate to use the word hysteria in regard to women, knowing that the origin of the word was a slap at women, in a sense--same word as hysterectomy, referring to the womb.  Only women are supposed to have hysteria, according to the ancient origin of the word.  Men have plenty of it, although with men more violence gets involved.  In this case, however, the hysterical reactions seem to be coming from women, mostly.  


Saturday, February 04, 2017

Au Revoir, Les Enfants

I have to thank TCM for doing its 30 Days of Oscars alphabetically this year.  Although there is no thematic continuity (Blazing Saddles followed by Blow-up?), it allows me to follow better.  Even more, now TCM has streaming videos of all its movies for a few days after, so I was able, at my husband's recommendation to watch this masterpiece by Louis Malle, better known as Murphy Brown's husband (hard to believe).

I rarely cry at the end of a film.  This one did it.

Go watch it. It is truly breathtaking.  In brief, two upper class brothers are secluded in a Catholic boarding school in France during World War II.  The younger one, about 12, is sort of the leader of the pack and looked up to by the other boys for his talents and coolness.  The older one is a bit of a turd toward women but has a lot of hutzpah.  What they don't know is that the monks are hiding Jewish boys.  The younger son, Julien Quentin, becomes friends with a new boy with a secret and who proves to be his competition.  Enough said.  Go watch it, be prepared to read some subtitles and be blown away by the spirituality and courage of it.  Great acting and directing, too.

The ending is profound; very French, but absolutely perfect. 

Ezra: 20 years and 10 chapters in 20 minutes


 I am supposed to teach from Ezra tomorrow.  These are my notes, for what they are worth.  

Date of happenings: 535 B.C. and following, right after book of Daniel. 
Date of writing:  end of this period, by the priest Ezra who joins the exiles later in the story (not beginning)
Theme: Exiles in Babylon return to Judah (journey took 3-4 months)
Three big take ways:
1.     God moves people for His purposes
2.     Worship is central to who we are individually and together
3.     God restores (in this case Israel, with whom He is not finished.  However, we the church are not Israel;  the U.S. is not Israel; we should not confuse the three).

Chapter 1: (Read in entirety). “In order to fulfill the word of the Lord by Jeremiah,” God moved Cyrus, the king of Persia, to send the Jewish exiles who wished to go back to Judah.  Isaiah also prophesied this, long before, but there isn’t a specific record of Jeremiah saying it.

Cyrus did not force them; he also instituted freewill offerings rather than taxes.  They were allowed to take the instruments of the temple to restore temple worship.  
What was in it for Cyrus?  Hard to tell; the Jews know they are still “captives.”
v. 5, “Everyone whose heart God moved,” so apparently some were chosen to return.
Only Benjamin, Judah, and Levites; what happened to the other ten tribes?

Chapter 2: About 50,000 returned; most stayed or were scattered; Esther, Mordecai

Chapter 3: Worship begins to be restored. Read 3:10-13. 

Chapter 4:  Account of opposition to temple building by Samaritans/pagans; commanded to stop by new king

Chapter 5: Maybe about 15 years later, under leadership of Zechariah and Haggai, prophets, they start to rebuild and appeal to Cyrus’ earlier original command when opposed. The prophets motivated them by the fact that they were building their own houses but God’s was laid waste.  Like Daniel, they didn’t cave easily.

Chapter 6:  The governor Tattenai agrees and the temple is built and worship begins.

Chapter 7:  Ezra sent as prophet, teacher, and leader, comes with about 1,000 more exiles and families. 

Chapter 8:  Details of who came with Ezra. 8:21 is interesting. 

Chapter 9: Problem of marriages with pagan women since returning

Chapter 10:  Problem dealt with; 133 men involved; repentance and “putting away wives according to Mosaic law.” 

My personal thoughts:  Let God move people for His purposes.  Make worship central and a priority. Understand the difference and similarities between Israel, church, and U.S., and don’t confuse them.

Friday, February 03, 2017

NPR Revisited

OK, I have been on an NPR bashing roll lately, which is bad because I really like their humanities and arts coverage, most of the time, and that they report stories from all over the world.  I didn't appreciate their story on drag queens who put on strip shows at Christmas, a show called "Homo for the Holidays" (about as blasphemous as you can get) and the days of my giving them money are over.  Yesterday sort of told me how out of touch they are.

It was a story about a Latina actress who is starring in a new Norman Lear (yes, that Norman Lear) sitcom (he's 94) with Rita Moreno (85).  It is, from what I can tell, a Latino version of Good Times, of the Jimmy Walker Dynomite fame.  Yeah.  But the actress was saying that they wanted to get the details right, so the Latinos had to tell the director that Latinos use "country crock bowls" for leftovers, not Tupperware.  The NPR staff member bought that that was a Latino thing.

Uh.  No.  It's a poor--no, a normal people thing.  Blacks, whites, and Latinos use Cool Whip (or store brand version) and margarine containers as Tupperware.  I have plenty of them myself.  It's good for the environment and cheap and practical. 

How out of touch was that guy on NPR?

It reminds me of some colleagues, a generation younger than I, who were appalled that my son and I took my husband to Waffle House for dinner on Father's Day. Why not?  What's better than scrambled eggs and cheese, raisin toast, and hash browns? Yet I am sure this person with three graduate degrees from public universities would be stereotyped as uneducated and clueless for liking a diner like Waffle House.

This is again why the media was appalled that any one would vote for Trump, or actually, would not vote for HRC.  Of course, I am pretty much appalled by Trump, but when you think you are as misunderstood by the media elites as this--not realizing we all don't use Tupperware--I can understand the anger and desire to want to push back.  I don't understand voting for Trump, though.  Yikes. 

By the way, speaking of cuisine, any ethnic cuisine is largely based on what is available to the poor.  Rice. Beans.  Spices.  Potatoes.  Pasta (flour). Corn.  Pork.  The whole animal (don't throw anything away, just like not throwing away the Cool Whip bowls). 

Fresh Studies in Matthew, Matthew 12 revisited


The “complaint” God had with the Israelites in the Old Testament had to do with their leadership as much or more with the masses.  If this is true (in terms of my interpretation) it really makes a difference in understanding.  Those who criticize Jesus in peeling grains to eat on Sabbath (when fasting is not required) were the Pharisees. Why are the Pharisees the bad guys?  Not just because they oppose Jesus, although that is part of it, but because they use their power heavily, not to shepherd but to oppress and control.  Leadership is never taken for granted or presented as a light thing in Scripture.  Spiritual leadership, I should say, although for other types it is true as well that leadership is never taken lightly.  Pagan kings like Nebuchadnezzar are instruments of judgment, but spiritual leaders must first be good examples and never false or hypocritical. Their character, not their use of power, comes first. 
However, Matthew 12 marks the specific beginning of the Pharisees’ opposition. First over Sabbath.  They are condemning the guiltless because they are applying non-law laws.  Rest on the Sabbath does not mean inactivity, sloth, non-movement, or failure to attend to human need.  The passage is full of theology, for “one greater than the Temple is here,” “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” and “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” 

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Hysteria revisited

 Let's just stop this, shall we?  Great article on American offensive hyperbole.

https://regiehammblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/01/this-hitler-nonsense/
 

Is this really a word?

 My husband had on one of those sports talk shows this evening (the one with the skinny white guy with a last name that probably got him called cow turd in school and with the chubby black guy who wears a hat).  The skinny white guy was talking about the Patriots or someone and said, "He is trying to build an integrous organization."

What?

"I am a pretty educated and well read person," I said.  "I have never heard that word."  So my husband looked it up on on Google, and this is what he found: https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=integrous

I did some more looking up and learned that while it has appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary, which tracks usage historically, that was a long, long, long time ago (like centuries).  But . . . when he used it, I did know what he meant, so does that not make it a legitimate word?  Meaning was conveyed (or perhaps evoked) by it, even if we say "of integrity" instead of "integrous." (and my computer is putting a red line under it, so Apple doesn't recognize it either.)

I don't think it is going to catch on.  I noticed that the other sports talk guys on the panel were conspicuously not using it, probably thinking like I did that skinny white guy with the funny name just made it up and didn't want to embarrass him or themselves. 

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Slow down, you move too fast

"There was a time when I really wanted to help the poor, the sick, and the broken, but to do it as one who was wealthy, healthy, and strong. Now I see more and more how it is precisely through my weakness and brokenness that I minister to others." Henri Nouwen

How I need this truth!

This link is an interesting book review on a new collection of his letters.  I have read some of his work and found it meaningful at the time.  http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/january-web-only/henri-nouwens-weakness-was-his-strength.html

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Thinking Through Some False Assumptions

Tonight I was coming home listening to my customary 25 minutes of drive time radio.  I listened to Janet Parshall and at one point said, Let me turn over to NPR and see if they are talking about Trump.

At first I thought, they aren't.  It was an African woman in Nairobi talking about how she has trouble getting her condoms.  Because of Trump.

That beats all.  He's been in office ten days and the supply of condoms in Kenya has been cut off.  Now, that is power!

OK, forgive the snarky.  I realize this poor woman is probably married and already has a number of children and wants to practice family planning.  Of course she should.  And she should get them from the health clinic.

But . . .

at what point in time did it become the responsibility of the United States government to supply her condoms?  Why doesn't Kenya's government?

Oh, they are too poor, you say.  Really?  Why are they poor?  Too poor to help with health needs as small as condoms?  Apparently yes, and food insecurity is real there.  Why?  Is  corruption possibly to blame?  Corruption that took American funds and funneled into something else, like limousines for government officials?

Now, I am playing devil's advocate here, and I do believe the developed world has a responsibility to the developing world.  You can judge me, but I dare you to look at my checkbook compared to someone who can cry and moan about poor people in Africa.  Talk is cheap, but I prefer to help NGOs that get the money straight to the people instead of toxic charity government programs that do not work.  How much money has our government plowed into Africa and these problems continue?  We have created a dependency.

But my real point is to question the assumption that every need is to be filled by the government.  That's just scary. I hear it all the time in higher education.  The problem is, it's never enough, and bureaucracies can be incredibly creative about finding ways to waste money.

I doubt anyone reads these rants, but I hope it makes someone think. 

Addendum on Feb. 4:  Ah!  In a news report today, NPR admitted to corruption in Kenya, although it was about police shaking down bus drivers.  

Monday, January 30, 2017

Thinking about Some Big False Ideas

The United States is not Israel in the Old Testament.  We are a representative democracy, a democratic republic with a constitution. 

We are not obligated to follow the laws of the Old Testament about the aliens and strangers among us.  As a sovereign nation, we are to protect our borders and citizens. 

Christians are not Old Testament Israel either.  Most of the "promises" Christians use from the Old Testament do not apply to us, especially not individually.

In Matthew 16 Jesus said, Upon this rock I will build my church.  That means he was going to start something new--new wine in new wineskins.  He wasn't replacing Israel; he was starting the church.  The church has very clear teaching of its own to follow, called the gospels and epistles.  Every spiritual and moral principle that God wants us to follow from the Old Testament is repeated in the New.

So, where does this lead us to refugees? 
Don't quote Old Testament passages about taking care of aliens and say they apply to us.  I find this especially strange from liberals who don't want to follow any of the rest of the Old Testament law.
 
As a church and an individual, practice all the love, compassion, and hospitality you can!  Hebrews 13 says to!  Romans 12 says to!  Help and minister to the refugees through NGOs, be aware, read, know the truth, don't just respond emotionally (although you should, but it should be based in fact). 

Stay off Facebook. It is a nest of lies and liars. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Fresh Studies in Matthew, Matthew 12:1-8

-->
Jesus now becomes, at least according to the text, more obvious and confrontation toward the religious order.  I think we overlook the radicality of this text.  What amazes me is his line of argument.  David and the showbread; the priests on the Sabbath; his identity; the scriptural principle of mercy as coming first.  “You would not have condemned the guiltless.” Who is guiltless here?  Those who have only broken interpretations of the law, not the real law itself.  They had not killed or used the Sabbath for gain—only for grain, one might say.  They had fed themselves in a way that caused them to interact directly with the plant.   They were not stealing because the real law said to leave grain around the edges for the poor to reap.  It’s also the principle of margin—do not hoard for oneself everything, and do not take everything, including time, for yourself. 
Mainly, though, this is about the Lord of the Sabbath—he created it, he is the fulfillment of it (note he doesn’t say “I’m getting rid of it,” only that it was made for man, not the other way around), everything about the Sabbath points to him.
I am typing this on New Year’s Eve (catching up on three months worth of jottings) and since tomorrow is both the “Sabbath” (I know, I know, not really but it will do as the day of the week for rest) and since it’s the first day of the year and a holiday too, it’s a good day to start my Sabbaths again.  They went away when I started the doctoral program.  Time to come back. 

Fact, Fiction and Hysteria

I find myself in the unenviable position of saying, "Look, I think Trump's a jerk, but let's calm down.  Let's look at what he's really doing and not take the media's and left's hysteria for fact."

This article explains the supposedly "Ban on Muslims" that isn't.  http://www.nationalreview.com/article/444370/donald-trump-refugee-executive-order-no-muslim-ban-separating-fact-hysteria

You can also search for the actual text of that order.  The word Muslim does not appear.  The word permanent does not appear.  This is not a permanent ban on Muslims or refugees.  It is a slowing down of the process to vet better.  Still, it seems to have caused an unnecessary confusion that is not boding well for his management style.  No nuance whatsoever.  And possible xenophobia. 

Now, whether it is needed is another issue, but it's not outside of the constitution per se. However, this practice of executive orders may be more the problem than what the orders are asking for.  We have gotten so deep into imperial presidencies since Wilson that we don't know what end is up.

Dare I say that maybe Trump is asking us to obey some immigration laws that have been ignored?  Dare I say that if the millionaires on the left are so concerned about Planned Parenthood and NPR, that they can pay for it?  Dare I say that our government has gotten too big and we expect the government to take care of us cradle to grave?  Dare I say that the government really doesn't have a responsibility to pay for the arts?  Dare I say we should go back to the real functions of government in the constitution, like defense and building roads and protecting interstate commerce? Clearly I lean libertarian.

Still, he's a con man, and I don't trust him.  I'm not worried about  a fascist dictatorship.  Yet.  It falls to us to be vigilant. 

 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

In Memory, Mary Tyler Moore

I don't usually get too concerned about celebrity deaths, but she was someone I watched a great deal growing up.  All those years of Dick Van Dyke and her own show, which I watched fanatically every Saturday night.  It really is possible that her character was more of a role model than we realized. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Happiness

Happiness is my ESL class.  These people are special.  Three Iraqi woman, four Sudanese young men, and one Guatemalan. They are the high point of my week.

One more thing, and I'll stop

It's interesting that only pro-choice women were allowed at that march, when polls show that a very large minority (and perhaps a non-minority) are against abortion.  Pro-life and pro-choice do not translate to everyone the same way. 

 http://www.lifenews.com/2015/05/29/gallup-poll-54-of-americans-want-all-or-most-abortions-made-illegal/

But, heh, Madonna and Chelsea Handler and Scarlett Johanneson were there, so the women at that march must have been annointed from on high, right? 


Media and Thoughts for January 22, 2017

So starts the four-year fight between Trump and the news media.  Principle 1:  The news media has no compunction about hiding the truth.  They report what they like.  What they report is truthful (or should I say based on fact) but only the truth they want to present, which might then by its very nature be perceived in an untrue way.  Cue the story of the blind men and the elephant. 

I listen to NPR a good bit but roll my eyes a good bit, too.  This past week they said they would be covering the inauguration and fact-checking the speech.  Oh, please.  Did they ever fact check President Obama?  They are so obviously out to "gotcha" on Trump and his administration, some of which seem to be really good people.  I hope they are taking the jobs to help our country through the trial of having him as president. 

However, Trump deserves to be fact checked.  He seems to believe that saying things enough times makes it true.  Magical thinking, maybe?

But I for one don't want every news headline to be about the news media and Trump fighting.  It will only lower the news media's already abysmally low credibility rating.  It will only give the news media more reason not to report the real news of what's going on in the world, which sometimes I don't think they want to do anyway.  Cue my go-to story of how NBC news spent two minutes on the UN finally admitting to human rights abuses in North Korea but five minutes on Jimmy Fallon taking over the Tonight Show.  Yeah. 

I taught Daniel 2 and 3 this morning, and couldn't help but feel that Daniel, Azariah, Hananiah, and Mishael were working for a T***p like kind of guy, Nebuchadnezzar.  Definitely erratic.  Interesting, in Daniel 3 Nebbie only wanted his officials to bow down to the image (I figure he got the idea of the big statue from his dream in Daniel 2) not the whole populace.  It was a loyalty test (I have to sign a loyalty oath to the state of Georgia, but it only requires not be unethical and spend the state's money wrongly).   I don't think he expected the Jews whom he had promoted to be a problem. 

So inspiration for the day:  Be a problem to someone.  Maybe we will see God work.

"But if not . . . " Their short speech is one of the greatest in the Bible.  Most of the great speeches of the Bible are pretty short.  "Choose you this day,. . . "  "How long halt ye between two opinions?. . . ."

The deliverance of the three was a miracle.  End of story.  I saw a piece on the History Channel (never go to the History Channel for your theology, by the way) about how it worked that they were able to get out of that furnace.  Uh, no.

Let us pray for a miracle in our president, because if he governs wisely it will only be because of miraculous answers to prayer.

Another media alert:  We are told that the march yesterday was the biggest in the history of the world.  Really?  Sure, there were protests in other parts of the world, but how could they possibly know that it was the biggest?  Considering how the media never reports on the marches against Roe v. Wade,  which draws hundreds of thousands, I would doubt their counting ability. 

Finally, I am slowly watching The Crown on NetFlix.  Awfully good.  What an arse Edward was!  So wonderful that we were delivered from that fool.  People of my generation like and respect the Queen, although monarchy is so strange. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Fresh Studies in Matthew, Matthew 11 continued


Sometimes I think that being a modern, as I call it, has divorced us from the rest of humanity that has been on the planet for thousands of years.  For about 150 years we have had quickly evolving technologies that have transformed our ways of thinking and relating.  So we come to Scripture with a mindset that is new in human history but we think is the only right one.  And we land in Matthew 11.
  Jesus may seem a little moody or all over the place, a bit up and down here.  We are assuming this is directly chronological, like a novel, which may or may not be true.  He comforts and judges in the same thirty verses. He comforts John’s disciples, he castigates the crowds for wanting a show, he condemns the surrounding towns for ignoring the revelations they have received, and then he makes a clear declaration of deity, and finish by inviting the weary and oppressed.  Comfort, a little sarcasm, and anger, condemnation, and comfort.  So, we see the human emotions.  Which one of us has not run the same gamut, without it being recorded as holy writ?  And of course we expect a flat sameness from Jesus, because he’s perfect, right?  It’s something we are not going to get.  Are emotions no less real or justified because they come close together?  In our medication-induced stupor, what have we lost?  I myself take a mild dosage of an SSRI to help with panic attacks, yet I had one yesterday, or at least one of those wild compulsions to run out o a room or church service, to even jump off the banister of the balcony.  So odd.  Sitting here in this office, with the door closed, with the heat on, with my big picture window, with my books and computer, I feel safe, yet this is somewhat of an artificial world.