Friday, July 29, 2016

Political Correctness and Offensiveness

Excellent article on the alternative to political correctness.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/july-web-only/wrong-way-to-fight-political-correctness.html

Every college student should read this, and I will have mine do so.

However, I think the origin of this debate is deeper than recent identity politics and goes back to Marcuse and the '60s.  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Response to Jerry Jenkins on Self-publishing, continued

A few things to add.  The self-publishing world appeals to our vanity.  It makes vanity publishing easier.  It appeals to people who don't want the input of editors and good readers, who aren't willing to get their work critiqued and altered, not understanding what good writing is.  When I hear that budding writers are using something like Tate or one of the other services and have paid over $1000, I do cringe, visibly. Self-publishing appeals to those who want to get it done fast without putting the time into what good writing takes, which can be years if you can't do it full time (and who can write full time?)

But it also appeals to authors who are traditionally published but are not sold on that model any longer, who know the business, know good writing, know the technology, have had their work vetted, have taken the time to do it right, and who know what they are getting into.

If an elderly person wants to write his/her memoirs for the family, self-publishing is great.  An oral history might be better and less time-consuming.

Most of the people who think they have a book in them don't.  That's just the reality.  The basic idea might be good but they don't know, nor care to learn, what would make the book readable or interesting for someone else.  That's a big jump. 


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Response to Jerry Jenkins on Self-Publishing

Jerry Jenkins, whom I respect in the publishing business (as if I my opinion mattered on the subject) wrote the following on his website.  I want to respond.


http://www.jerryjenkins.com/warning-self-publish/

As someone who has published both ways, I'm going to weigh in to get a discussion started, because I think this is very important. It's an excellent article, and he's a reliable source but does not tell every side of it. It's far more complicated.

 The struggles for self-publishers are three-fold. First, finding the right outlet/publisher who is not going to scam you. This is hard for most and takes a lot of self-education to navigate, and a great deal of tech savvy-ness in terms of the Internet and formatting manuscripts. CreateSpace and Smashwords can work for you but you have to know what you are doing. 

Second, guaranteeing quality work; it is true that most of what is self-published is mediocre at best, due to poor writing, editing, or just not good ideas. But most is not all. I have seen some really bad stuff, to be honest.  Most people who want to write a book need lots and lots of help.  Before I published my last, Bringing Abundance Back, I workshopped it through a writers' group of 8-10 people and had a person with a doctorate in English proofread it for me, as well as some other friends with advanced degrees.  It still had a few typos!  But I am pleased with it.  It did not have sans serif font, as he claims.  It looks like any other book, except I don't have blurbs on the back from other writers.  

However, I have the advantage of three graduate degrees; most people do not.  They have the advantage of life experience that could be of value to others.  They want to communicate it.  A blog might be a better way to do so, and monetize the blog.  I've known for a long time that I won't make any real money off my writing, but I do it anyway.  This might be where the difference is for Mr. Jenkins.  He has made millions on his writings, especially about the rapture and second coming.  Some of us just want to get our message out without going into debt.  CreateSpace allows me to do that.  

I have no illusions about writing; many of my friends don't read my books, even when I give them copies.  (Don't do that; it's a waste of money.)

Third, the marketing, which is not really discussed in this article. Many small but traditional publishers want the writer to do all the marketing, which is the same for self-publishing. You might have the best book in the world but it has to be marketed, which means lots of time and self-promotion that most people don't have the means to do. He argues that self-publishing is good for three types of people: writers for small niche audiences, academics who have to publish, and those who don't care if they use a traditional publisher, for whatever reason, such as perhaps they are speakers and need to be able to sell books at events. 

He is wrong about the second; I am an academic and self-publishing is not respected as far as tenure and promotion go; these articles or books have to be peer-review and vetted by certain gatekeepers. He should have done more research on that issue.  I do know some academics try it but it won't work in any reputable college.

I won't get into Mr. Jenkins' motives--he is a prolific, popular writer in the Christian market (very successful) who tries to help aspiring writers through his blog and guild, but he represents the gatekeepers of traditional publishing here as if they are just dying to publish new writers and we know they are not. They are a business and publish what will sell, not what will necessarily extend the kingdom or its truth (although many do; I just think The Shack a good example of what I'm saying about profit motive).  

Full disclosure: I am working on a book I plan to self-publish, and plan to do so with many more, as I have about twenty decent book ideas.  Why?  I am too old to find and work with a publisher, and I just don't think they would want to publish what I want to write.  

I would love to see some thoughts here from those on both sides.

Breakpoint from Colson Center/Prison Fellowship for July 26, 2016

I feel this needs to be rebroadcast.  Here it is.

When Chicken Little said the sky is falling, we all laughed. Well, maybe it’s time we stopped laughing.  

It seems Chicken Little may be on to something.
My friend Rod Dreher is as sane and stable as anyone I know, and he’s saying, in essence, that the sky is falling. I reference his new article in The American Conservative, called “The Coming Christian Collapse.”
He begins by saying that the two-thirds of millennials who were raised religiously unaffiliated still have no denominational identity today. Unlike previous generations, they’re not joining churches as they get older and raise kids.
Second, Rod says, “Millennials, even those who identify as Christians, are shockingly illiterate, both in terms of what the Bible says and more generally regarding what Christianity teaches.” This growing biblical illiteracy has led to a moral decline of our young people into consumerism, drug abuse, sexual liberation, and civic and political disengagement.
Third, Rod says that the working class has largely abandoned the church, and that if the middle class follows suit, as appears likely, the church will be in a world of hurt. He quotes the late Michael Spencer, who warned of a coming evangelical collapse: “We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught.”
These are chilling words. We talk a lot on BreakPoint about external threats to our souls, and rightly so. But as Abraham Lincoln once said in another context, “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.”
Yet I am hopeful, as every Christian must be. As my colleague John Stonestreet says so often, we are part of the grand story of the universe. And God is the author of that story. Yes, as Peter reminds us, we will have to suffer “various trials.” But why? “So that the authenticity of [our] faith . . . may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:6-7)”.
This is not new. Back in the ‘30s and ‘40s, German Christians had to take a clear stand or be absorbed or compromised by evil—and some, like Bonhoeffer, chose the cross. Look at our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. Now, I’m not ready to say we American Christians may soon have to apostasize or die, but I can’t help but think of the words of the late Cardinal George, who said he would die in his bed, his successor would die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.
So, what do we do? We repent—repent of our sins, the sins of the church, and, yes, the sins of our nation: the sins of pride, racism, sexual libertinism, greed, lust for power, and a callous disregard for human life among them.
Second, we must recommit ourselves to Jesus. We need to seek the mind of Christ, to think and to act as Christians, to know our Bible and to live by it in the power of the Spirit, “making the most of your time, for the days are evil.” We must commit anew to forming a biblical worldview and evaluating everything in our lives in light of it.
We must recommit our time and our treasure to evangelism, missions, and Christ’s command in Matthew 25 to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, and visit the prisoner. Christian faith is not a nice add-on to our agendas, it’s the very marrow of our lives.
The question is this: Will we love God with our whole heart, soul, and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves?
But don’t be intimidated by the internal and external challenges we face. Remember that God can do very much with very little, and that success doesn’t depend on political or cultural power. While the Church may face trials, the gates of hell will not prevail, and Christ’s vi

Disturbing

First, the headline:  Terrorist uses nun as shield after killing priest.  Have we lost any ability to be outraged?

Second, the prosecutor has dismissed charges in the Freddie Gray case.  (I follow this because I grew up in Maryland, and the whole story is bizarre.)  There will be riots, sadly.  But who is rioting for Charles Kinsey?  For Tamir Rice?  Why are the riots for Michael Brown and Freddie Gray, only?

Third, this article on porn addiction in the U.S. and the church.  http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/julaug/porn-is-simultaneously-more-criticized-and-more-popular-tha.html
How can we deal with other problems when we can't even control what we watch on the Internet?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Randomness Revisited

I am saddened by the brutal slaying of a French priest by an ISIS terrorist.  It probably will not gain much traction on the media.  It's one person, an old man, a Christian servant.

These slaughters, and mass murders, have happened so frequently this summer that we have lost our ability to be appalled, sad, shocked.

The word that should never be used in connection to them, however, is random.  There is nothing random about these crimes. They were chosen, purposefully--the action and the victims.

Randomness implies toss of a coin.  Coins should be heads or tails relatively equally, unless they are "fixed" with weights or something to change the equality.  When human choice enters in, randomness leaves.

Human choice being what it is, evil will be more rampant and will seem random.  We speak of good and evil as disembodied spirits that hover around, as if Lucas' mythology in Star Wars were really a viable philosophical or real option.  Evil is expressed in human choice and exists in the human psyche; it is all that is opposed to the goodness of God, which includes love, mercy, giving, life,  generosity.

I chose to wear a certain piece of clothing today for work (I am supposed to be on vacation but it's never that easy, is it, when one is in leadership?)  Even if I had closed my eyes and grabbed something from the closet, that wouldn't have been random, because the choice to wear an outfit selected that way was not random, and the set of clothes I have to choose from were not random.

My reflections on randomness started with reading the early chapters of Matthew.  Matthew makes it clear that nothing Jesus did was random, it was all in purposeful fulfillment of prophecy.   It is an indirect nudge to me to stop thinking randomly and acting randomly.  Life is too short.

I say this to encourage myself never to think of these murders as random, because that makes them pointless and that makes the person who dies less human.  A man was martyred for his faith yesterday in France.  What will the world do?

The big difference between conservatives and progressives in one sentence

Today I was listening to live broadcasting from the Democratic National Convention on NPR.  The favorablesness (sorry, not a word) of the broadcasters was palpable.  However, one operative was being interviewed and what he said capsulizes it all.

"What makes American great is not a piece of paper but that we are including more and more people."

I almost wrecked the car.

A piece of paper?  The constitution (and 230 some years of case law based on it) is a piece of paper?

Where does this person think the inclusiveness of the country comes from?

Where does he think his right to talk on the radio comes from?

If that is what the Democratic Party thinks about the constitution--it is a piece of a paper--well, that explains a lot.  Perhaps they hold to the constitution when it is convenient.

I also found it ironic that the Democrats keep talking about the next generation and our children.  Their platform is based on trying to keep children from being born in the first place.  They aren't all that kid friendly economically, either.  We are in trillions more debt than we were ten years ago, debt that will be passed on to our children.  

There is a problem so let's just admit it

This is probably the best argument that racial profiling is real.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/13/politics/tim-scott-police-racial-profiling/

Not that I had any doubt.  The statistical information is pretty damning.

So the questions become:

How can police be trained to reserve stop-and-search to times it's legitimate?
How can each race start seeing people of other races as individuals and recognizing they don't all look alike (I mean, come on, people.  Get a good look at somebody and you'll see he/she doesn't  look really like anybody else, unless he/she has an identical twin.)
How can African American young men who get profiled learn to respond appropriately so that it doesn't turn tragic?
How can the police forces start screening out personalities that are going to snap?

I am particularly concerned about the incident with Charles Kinsey in North Miami.  Fortunately, he was not killed, but that hardly makes it much better when he was in the hospital with a gunshot in his leg and he was in the process of dealing with a loud autistic patient when he was attacked by the police.  He complied, was on the ground with hands up, and he still was shot, and when he asked the police officer why, the response was "I don't know."

Now it comes out that the officer wanted to shoot the patient!

If these were one in a million, it would be different, but they are not.

The only thing that bothers me is that the media spends thousands of hours on Michael Brown but nothing, in comparison, on Charles Kinsey.  Why the media would do that is equally as troubling.





Saturday, July 23, 2016

David Brainerd and Us


Our new pastor started his first sermon with the story of David Brainerd, not revealing the name of course until almost the end, leaving me to guess who he was talking about.  I figured it out before the reveal because he mentioned Jonathan Edwards, one of my heroes despite my learning he owned at least one slave (although she was a house servant type of slave). 
Of course, I go to Brainerd Baptist Church, which was one of the reasons he was invoking David Brainerd.  The church is not named after David Brainerd; it is named after the Brainerd area of Chattanooga, which is named after the Brainerd Mission (situated near Eastgate Town Center), which was named after David Brainerd by some of his devotees who came to East Tennessee to minister the gospel to native Americans.  David Brainerd never made it here—too far south of course, no settlements during his life, and his life was cut short by illness. 
It was odd that after all these years I never made the connection of the church being named Brainerd and that being our legacy.  The pastor made available a download of a book on David Brainerd by John Piper, and I also downloaded his diary and have begun reading it, the preface of which is written by Edwards, who would have been his father-in-law had Brainerd lived longer. 
All that to say that, despite the 18th century language, the diary is interesting reading and I was taken by his struggles toward conversion.  He tells of trying to do works and devotion, religious and otherwise, that would be good enough for salvation or acceptance by God, not achieving it, and then getting angry about it.  He was not trusting grace and didn’t know how.
“Sometimes I used to take much pains to work it up into a good frame, an humble submissive disposition; and hoped there was then some goodness in me. But, on a sudden, the thoughts of the strictness of the law, or the sovereignty of God, would so irritate the corruption of my heart, that I had so watched over, and hoped I had brought to a good frame, that it would break over all bounds, and burst forth on all sides, like floods of water when they break down their dam. “
In spite of the archaic language and the doctrines of election, I don’t think his struggle is that far from all of us.  We want to please God and try means to do so other than falling on grace; we get mad when we can’t reach God our own way.  We want to believe in God; some atheists believe in God but are greatly angry and disappointed at Him, which makes no sense.  Grace is harder than it sounds because it means stopping our own dependence on our abilities and work ethic and whatever else. 
Which leads me to the topic of legalism.  I still hear people who think legalism is not engaging in certain practices.  There are many good reasons not to engage in certain practices (drinking, for example) and they have nothing to do with legalism.  If you abstain from alcohol because of logical reasons (health; possibility of addiction, which is much greater a possibility than the newly liberated Christians want to admit; saving money—let’s be real, alcohol is expensive), then that is not legalism.  If you abstain from alcohol because it makes you a better class of people and believe God will love you more, that is legalism.  Legalism has no more to do without specific outside practices than spirituality does; very profligate people can be legalistic about some things. Saul was a legalist and martyring people. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Listening to God--or NOT

This morning I was assigned to teach I Samuel 3.  I was sort of, "Oh, brother," since this is a story often told to children in Sunday School.

I wanted to lead them in a meditation on listening to God, something sorely needed by me and I think others.  We talk plenty--whining to God, talking about God, etc.--but I'm not sure where we are at listening, since we have such cultural ADD.  I ended the lesson with a reference to Luke 10:30 and following, the story of Mary and Martha.  

Martha is just too busy to listen.  It’s not lack of time.  It’s what she thinks. I don’t know what was going through her head, just that she was troubled.  But I can imagine. These are some of her thoughts, or maybe some of mine.

I don’t need to listen.  I know it already.   

I have more important things to do.  These people need to be fed.   

Who would do it otherwise?  I am indispensable.  

It will be ok with Jesus.  This is who I am.  Mary is the lazy one. I need to tell Jesus to get her working.   

I am the hardworker.  I get things done.  Listening to Jesus is good but this is more important, right?   

I better set Jesus straight on these priorities. 

______

My imagined mental dialogue for Martha is really just what I think when I believe the world needs my frenetic action more than I need to listen to God.

Bible Study Basics

I have three books ideas (other than fiction) and one of them is about how to study the Bible with a different approach than others (which are genre-based, which is important, or inductive, which is important also).  It will be more of a layman's or laywoman's approach to what one is actually doing in Bible study.

One of the basics is knowing the definition of four important words:


Revelation – God inspired (breathed in) men to write through their own personalities and cultures to deliver a message in text.  This is not dictation.  The writers were literate and in some cases well educated and academically trained for their period.   God did not obliterate their "selves" while they wrote.  The Bible is accurate and truthful (two different things) in all it affirms.  But we don't always understand it right off "the bat."

Interpretation – deriving the meaning of the passage in the original writing, through language and cultural study, to find the the truth that is for everyone at all times. Some people who interpret the Bible don’t even believe it.  That leads us to . . .

Illumination – Jesus told the apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth in John 16:13.  Was this just for apostles?  Maybe, but probably not.  There are other passages that "come alongside" this one.  Illumination is "light-giving" and has to do with our understanding of the Scripture through the Holy Spirit and our attitude of openness.  Only those who have the Holy Spirit can use it and believe it.  

Application – what it means for us today in terms of obedience and insight into God’s wills and ways.  This is where we personally "hear" God, after the other three (not before or without them).

Beth Moore has been criticized, as have other speakers, that they are saying God speaks to them personally to have a word for the church.  This is a tricky area. I don’t know her heart.  But I know that when God speaks to me it is for me, not a word of knowledge for others.   I also have insights into the meaning of Scripture that I can share because I know it’s based on a study of the text.  I think Bible teachers should be honest and transparent about that.  “This is how I am applying it in my life, but God may apply it differently for you.”  Women can be guilty of emphasizing the emotional and wanting something personal and emotional from scripture, and female Bible teachers can be susceptible to delivering that to audiences who want it.

I'll use as an example the verse in  I Corinthians 13, " Love is not puffed up.Each of us gets puffed up about different things.  One woman can have a beautiful home because she is puffed up, another so she can be hospitable and doesn’t think of it that way.  I can’t say, “if you have a beautiful home, you are puffed up,” just because I might get that way.  Only God can speak to the person that way. But we have to be open and listening, and listening in Scripture does not mean the act of hearing but of responding and obeying.  In the Hebrew the same word shama, translated "hearing"  has a broader set of meanings than we give it today.

Actually all words are like that.  I like to draw a picture of a circle with a word in the middle and then show all the words that fit as denotations and connotations in the circle and put others outside of it.  

I think we can easily get caught up in any of these four steps and not put them together in correct order, and thus fall into pseudo-heresies. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Email in the Real World: Top Ten "Don'ts"

Although I have been told that "this generation" doesn't want to "do email" in lieu of texting, we do a disservice when we allow their emailing to be texting in another medium.  We rarely do anyone a favor when we make excuses for their behavior.  Email is not going away, so we might as well do it right.

1.  Don't send an email when a conversation will do it better (confidentiality, too complicated, etc.)  You can spend a lot of time drafting an email that could take ten minutes to take care of with a walk across the building and short conversation.

2.  Don't send an email you don't want sent to or seen by others.  Email is forever and easily passed on.

3.  Don't forward an email unless you know the other person wants it forwarded (or wouldn't be bothered by it).

4.  Don't type in all capitals.  Some people still do this.

5. Don't forget the "Dear" or "Greeting."  It's just plain rude otherwise.

6.  Don't forget to sign it.  People don't know your name from the email address usually.

7.  Don't reply all.  It's rare that it's necessary to do so.

8.  Don't put a long list of names in the to:  Put it in the blind carbon copy slot.  That way if someone does reply all, it won't go to everyone, and the readers won't have to scroll down and down.

9.  Don't be lazy about learning all the functionalities of email.

10.  Don't email when hacked off at the original sender.  Just walk away.  You may have misunderstood or misinterpreted something.

11.  I would add a personal pet peeve:  don't use out of office if you are going to check the email every hour anyway.  It just means the senders will get double the emails. 

Saturday, July 09, 2016

The Well--a 1951 movie about today

I rarely send anyone to YouTube, but because I watch films noir on it and because YouTube doesn't really now what a film noir is (it's any movie in black and white from the '40s and '50s, I think, for them). it recommended this movie from 1951: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmdLvV922BE

In light of the experiences of this week, it is incredibly prescient.  Yes, there is some free use of the "n" word (by whites), and it ends happy, and it's definitely from 1951, but it's really worth watching.  I felt like I was watching the news. 

"Are you Serious" department

I got a letter asking for a donation to the Donald Trump campaign.  Ha!

Set my phone on the car last night while doing some yard work.  Forgot about it.  Wonderful thunderstorm came up (I had prayed for rain!).  Remembered it too late.  Doing the Rice Treatment (does that really work?.  Back to pre-smart phone days.  Might be good for me. (postscript, I can use the mac for phone calls--yeah!)

Get to teach the book of Ruth tomorrow.  Doing some serious writing on my book on leadership in Daniel.  Painting my kitchen today.  Had lunch with a friend, an ovarian cancer survivor, yesterday.

In-law of in-law wants to take a trip to NYC with me to see a Broadway play.  We are talking $1200 or more.  Golly.

I am overblessed. 

Friday, July 08, 2016

A sense of priority, a sense of proportion

Yesterday I got a lovely photo of the little girl we sponsor through Compassion International.  I was so proud of it I posted it on Facebook with this, very honest, remark:

Compassion International allows people like us to make a difference in the lives of children like this little girl. For privacy I won't give her name but we are glad to sponsor her for just a little over a dollar a day. Legitimate research shows these programs do work to move children from poverty by providing educational resources, among other things. Compassion International is not the only one, but consider it! Not to preach, but if you buy expensive coffee every day, you would spend the same amount in less than two weeks on coffee than to sponsor a child.

So far I have gotten 16 likes and three comments.  

Last week I posted a photo of myself with a red clown nose (we threw a retirement carnival for the office admin assistant, who had been there 37 years--hard to believe).  I got 80 likes and 12 comments.

If a "friend" posts something about a hurt kitten who is rescued, it gets more likes than a child in Africa.  If I put a ridiculous selfie, I get six times as many likes.  An odd situation. 

OK, I get it--I dinged the Starbucks crowd; how dare I make a comment on paying $3.00 for a cup of coffee several times a week?  I won't apologize.  We do what we want and find myriad ways to justify ourselves.   Call it confirmation bias, locus of control, fundamental attribution error, whatever.  The heart is deceptively wicked, who can know it?  I could carpool and sponsor another child if I put my money where my mouth is, sure.

Another former colleague commented that when 200 people are killed in a bombing in Iraq, nobody puts the Iraqi flag on their photo on Facebook.  Fifty were killed in the Turkish airport; no "We are all Turkey" memes.  Absolutely.

We are faced this morning with two tragedies; an innocent black man was killed for no discernible reason by a white police officer during a traffic stop in Minnesota, and it went viral, and a racist, evil  sniper killed five white police officers in a city 1000 miles away from there.  I wrote about faulty statistics the other day, so it is hard to know what really goes on in a country of 330 million, but it seems that white officers being killed by black people outnumbers the opposite; that in no way justifies the times when cops just  seem to lose control, let fear and primal instincts and probably racism take over and shoot black men to death.  It happened a few years back in Chattanooga and I doubt the policeman really paid for his crime from a sociological perspective; perhaps he did emotionally and psychologically.

Internet-based media totally skews our perceptions of reality, proportion, and priority; there is plenty of research to show that.  The plethora and proliferation of media/website options means we default to those that make us feel good about ourselves.  My only challenge is to get all the facts before writing something.  And I should take my own advice. 




Sunday, July 03, 2016

Death and Life


What is the point of life when its destination is death? From a review of Diary of a Country Priest by Roger Ebert. (Very interesting French movie but not one to watch with popcorn)
My message to the world is, “Let’s swing, sing, shout, make noise.  Let’s not mimic death before our time comes!”  Mel Brooks
Let us eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. The farmer in Jesus’ parable
There are two types of atheists.  Those who act as if they will not answer to God, and those who act as they think God should.  (Richard Wurmbrand).
Rev. Wurmbrand is another of my heroes.  He is gone now.  I heard him speak twice when I was young (college age).  He gave an invitation in which he said, "In the U.S. the preachers always say 'Every head bowed, every eye closed, no one looking around.'  I say, every head up, everybody looking--stand up for Christ!"  He had earned the right to do that.  Years later when the wall fell, Romania saw revival, and I am sure he was part of it.  

Girls and Being Noticed


“I waited to be told what was good about me . . . All that time I had spent readying myself, the articles that taught me life was really just a waiting room until someone noticed you—the boys had spent that time becoming themselves.” (from Alyssa Wilkinson’s article in CT, quoting Emma Cline in THE GIRLS
Maybe not that simple.  Guys are not Neantherdals with no empathy or self-awareness.  For every Brock Turner there are 100 “good guys” who would pull Brock Turner off the unconscious victim.  I raised one and I have plenty of friends with “good guys” for sons.  And there is plenty of research to show that while girls have been able to flourish in the education system, guys are left behind.  
But the truth remains that even today girls seem wired to “wait to be noticed” and even worse to gauge their worth on being noticed.  I see it in myself.  Let no one despise your woman-ness.  Not your femininity, which has been conflated with domesticity (although essential housekeeping skills should be part of one’s upbringing) or consumerism (feather pens and 100 pairs of name brand shoes in a huge closet) or moodiness.

Iconoclasm

I recently learned that Jonathan Edwards owned some slaves.  That is quite disappointing to me, since he was one of my heroes.  I like to think he would have turned the tide and freed them and started to write seriously about slavery and equality of the races (which he supported in the revivals and churches) if he had lived longer.  He died at the age of 55, experimenting with the small pox vaccines of the time.  Maybe he could have intervened in his grandson's life and Alexander Hamilton would not have been killed by him.

It is similar to finding out how anti-Semitic Martin Luther got in his old age, after being rather open-minded for his time about Jews in his younger years.

If I could go back in time, I would go back and warn him not to write those things because it would ruin his legacy, hurt the church, and be used by an awful man to destroy his beloved Germany four hundred years later.

Actually, if I could go back in time I would try to stop 9/11, but I doubt anyone would believe me unless I took a newspaper.

Not to draw the same level of importance in the big scheme of things,  but I feel the same disappointment in the support of Donald Trump by some Christian leaders I respected, namely Dr. Dobson and Dr. Land.  They are both well educated men, and Dr. Land was the interim pastor of the church I attend for over a year.  Dr. Land has spoken out for immigrants and their needs in the U.S.  Dr. Dobson has defended the family and fought the pornography industry.  So I am very alarmed that  these men would publicly support Trump, who views on these thing are pretty public too.  While I am sure they have their reasons and can convince themselves of the rightness of using their influence to get people to vote for Trump, I can't help but feel they want to continue their access to power they knew in the past.

That's a pretty cynical view on my part but if it is their reason, or one of them, it's a pretty cynical view on their part.  I hope I am wrong.  Granted, I wouldn't vote for Hillary short of a gun being pointed at my head by someone crazy enough to pull the trigger, and if that were the case I would figure the country was in such bad shape there was no hope anyway.  There is always Gary Johnson.  

Faulty Statistics

Every day on the road to work I go under a sign that tells the latest death toll on the highways of Georgia.  At the rate we are going, 3.65 or more people die per day on Georgia roads.  Every day or so the number gets bigger.  The sign is supposed to be a warning to drive safely, but I don't know how useful it is.  It is  distraction, for one thing. 

It also relegates the pain of a death in an automobile accident (close to my heart since I was in a serious accident in January and was miraculously not at all hurt) to a number on a sign.  If one of those was my husband or child, I don't know how I would feel about it.  However, I do not doubt the number.  I trust to be right, although I am not sure why.

We are told many numbers over and over again, and like Hitler's Big Lie, I sometimes think we are being told these numbers so that we will become convinced they are absolute truth and not question them, even though our initial reaction should be to say "what?".

The first is close to me because I work in higher ed:  1/5 college women are sexually assaulted.  I challenge you to look that up.  It's simple not even remotely true.  It leads one to say that 20% of college women are raped.  So, on my campus of about 3,00 women, 600 of them are raped in a given year?  Come on.  First, the statistics were drawn from a sample of 27 colleges (out of 5000 in the country), so we have massive sampling error there.  Then the definition of sexual assault was not clear; an unwanted kiss at a party when someone has drunk a bit too much was included.  With the horrendous stories like Brock Turner's, it's easy for the propagandists to spin a narrative of brutal, brutish men on campus with no other purpose than to abuse women.

I am not denying there are rapes and victims; of course there are.  And no, they are not all because the girls are drunk.  But let's be honest about the numbers.

Part of the problem may be that people just don't understand math.  People may think that 25% of the population is gay, (some do)  but that would mean one of every four persons  The Kinsey number was 11%, one of nine.  Reliable sources put it at 2-3%, maybe as much as 5%.  This one is of course questionable, since many do not admit to being homosexual for obvious reasons.  And it has nothing to do with rights, etc.  It's just a perception vs. reality vs. statistics vs. what we are told to believe thing.  

The second (of many) is that 50% of marriages end in divorce, and that the Christian divorce rate is the same.  It all depends on how you count the beans.  The 50% comes from taking the number of marriages and dividing by number of divorces in a given year (and the year was quite a while back and the numbers are trending down significantly).  That is a faulty way to figure it.  Gallup and Pew have also proven that when Christian is defined more clearly as lifestyle rather than a label, the Christian divorce rate is much, much lower.

I am reminded of the old story that wife abuse went up dramatically after the Super Bowl and the story of Kitty Genovese in New York, and so many others.   Please, please get the facts.  And don't spread the nonsense.  If a statistic sounds ridiculous or out of line, it probably is.

Samson

Our LifeWay lesson for Bible Study today was Samson.  I have to ask why?  and then say I am thankful I get to teach on Ruth next week, the exact opposite.  My colleague taught on Samson today and did well, better than I would have because I would have just said I see no reason to study Samson.  Yet - the book of Hebrews does put him in the hall of faith.  The Book of Judges does give him a lot of space.  So I do't get to call the importance of any part of the Bible.

Samson, however, is a "hot mess."  Along with being a "brat," as my husband says, he simply had no sense of what is holy and did not take anything holy seriously.  And something does not have to be part of a worship service to be holy.  He did not take his marriages as holy, his parents, his actions, his vows, his background.  Everything was subsumed to his immediate desire and pleasure.  He had spiritual ADHD. 

I doubt he is alone.

Womanness


To paraphrase, Paul in I Timothy, I say to ladies:  Let no one despise thy womanness. 
I fear a lot of us women spend a lot of time despise our womanness and letting others do so.  We consider ourselves unworthy because of our DNA, our sex, our body parts, what makes us able to bear children.  We buy the lies that we are too emotional to think clearly, that we do not deserve leadership and respect, that men are just better at everything. 
When I say womanness, I don’t mean femininity.   That is a consumerist concept based on how many shoes we have in the closet and if we wear pink.  If we watch “Say Yes to the Dress.”  When Sarah Edwards (Jonathan Edwards’ wife) got married, she wore a green gown.  You, go girl.   Not that I am encouraging masculinity or crudeness  in women, (we have enough of that) only that those are not what makes us women.
Embrace your womanness and understand what it means—and what it doesn’t.  And that’s not a simple question.                        

The Freshman 15

On my trip we stayed in the UCLA dormitories (one called Sunset Village) and ate in one of the Commons.  The choice and quality of food was amazing.  I know this is UCLA, but I have a feeling this is not atypical of food choices for college students.  No wonder they gain weight in the first year!  I had to skip dinner to even myself out, calorie wise.  One morning I had an omelet, oatmeal, juice, coffee, and muffins.  Who does that?  Normally I have coffee and toast or a bowl of cereal.

The South is known for obesity,  and that is legitimate, but I saw plenty of heavy people, especially young people, out there too.


Home from the Hills

Make that the Hollywood Hills.  I spent six days in California last week, attending the High Impact Institute at UCLA sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (NOT the American Association of Colleges and Universities, which some like to call it). It was quite an experience, quite a "stretcher," and I finally got to see the city that media has been showing me all my life.  I was able to connect with two former students and had a wonderful time with them.

The climate is just too dry for me.  Everyone raved about the lack of humidity, but I like rain, I like trees.  How does anyone have a vegetable garden out there? 

But here to prove it (and to add photos to this blog, which needs it).

Fresh Look at Matthew: Matthew 18 in total

I have decided to post all of my thoughts on Matthew 18 at once.  After this I will take a short break from posting about Matthew, not becau...