Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Of Technocrats and Independent Thought

Big problems require big solutions. Big solutions require a high-level of buy in from the people involved. All this to say that the big problems facing the world today will only be solved by a high level of international solidarity. Given the fragmented nature of our world it will take a world crisis to get everyone in line.
Some of the problems we face are terrorism, economic inequality, environmental issues, and finding renewable/sustainable energy sources. On terrorism, Wahhabist Islam must be put in check, first by the wider Islamic faith, and secondarily by the international community. On economic inequality, we must find a new market structure that addresses the failings of capitalism while avoiding the pitfalls of communism. On environmental issues we must limit pollution without handicapping industry and business and avoiding alarmism. On energy we must move on from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources that will last us long into the future.
A crisis is brewing, and will come, and each of these problems will be addressed- and not entirely satisfactorily. The solution will come to be as result of post-crisis politics as much as necessity.
The intractable human condition of intolerance never changes. Unity and intolerance are not mutually exclusive. As a matter of fact, the highest degrees of intolerance are often found in a state of unity. If you think the level of intolerance in the world today is problematic, just wait until the post-crisis period. Mankind's intolerance will gel into a international consensus commensurate with the ignorant passivity of the majority of the world's population.
Today you compete in a world of ideas. Tomorrow, there will be no competing, only the commission of the crime of independent thought.
On the one hand, many erstwhile "free-thinkers" and "progressives" will be shown for the agenda-driven ideologues they are. They will settle in nicely with the group think.

In response to an anti-global-warming article at American Thinker, "madeline11" writes:
"I find it sad that there are people who still think that we can blow off mountain tops and dry up aquifers and put holes in the ozone layer and yet somehow NOT affect the earth in a negative way. There is absolutely no question among the educated scientific community around the world, and your credentials aren't even mentioned. The earth is warming, has been warming rapidly since the beginning of the 20th century, before which it was on its way to cooling."

My position on global warming is that while human activity can contribute and must be controlled, I reject the multiple-alarm fire panic of many advocates. But note what madeline11 says: "There is absolutely no question among the educated scientific community around the world, and your credentials aren't even mentioned."
This statement tears the mask off of the modern concept of science, and speaks strongly to the issue of authority. I accept the scientific method, per se. But then when confronted, they hide behind credentials and the consensus of other credentialed individuals.
Today's understanding of the term "credentialed" is "authoritative by means of achievement or position." What a contrast to the scientific ideal of "authoritative by virtue of being provable, reproducible, falsifiable, etc." It is this latter commendable principle that threw down the pronouncements of religion and monarchy, ignited the modernist-fundamentalist wars, and resulted in today's apologetic-heavy evangelicalism and creation science.
I do not say that evangelical apologetics and creation science have proven anything- they well may have- but my point here is that they began to engage the secular scientific/free-thinking community on its own principles. In response, we have seen a surge in post-modernism, and a general retreat by the secular scientific community behind their "credentials," "associations," and "journals."
Having come from a very right-wing fundamentalist background, I detest the anti-intellectualism and naivete that so often characterize American conservative Christianity. I have no problem with credentials, associations, and journals. What I have a problem with is when you put an asterisk by the scientific method leading to a footnote requiring these things to play the game.
And so we see the end-game of modernism- the credentialed authority that was vested in God and the church for a millennium has now come to be vested in the scientific community.
If the scientific method has given way to the authoritative pronouncements of credentialed men, I'd rather go back to the old fundamentalism, thank you. You can't step out of your ivory tower just long enough to make your case and then retreat back into it when challenged.

Rarely are things so black and white, however, and I am NOT going back to the "old fundamentalism." I am an individual with my own mind. I choose to take everyone seriously, and give no one undue benefit. People like me will not fare well in the world to come; the concentration of authority will only accelerate as the adaptation of technocracy by proxy increases.

Perhaps full-on technocracy will be the post-crisis solution.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Grandpa Ruins Christmas

This was taken last year (2008). He goes on about Santa, wallets, Obama, the Salvation Army...



Grandpa Ruins Christmas - Watch more Funny Videos

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

An Adulterous Church

I have lost count of the number of times this year I have been taken aback at the thought of the number of people in my circles who send right-wing chain emails to me. I grow increasingly weary of the loony circus that is hard right-wing conservative Christianity. I grow increasingly afraid as they make matters of state into matters of faith and bring them into the churches.
Conservative Christians should be flatly and completely ashamed at the lies they have perpetrated concerning health care, Obama, Bush, Iraq, abortion, homosexuality, etc. They are continually Machiavellian, justifying the means by the ends, never ceasing to carry water for the "God Ordained Party," and never willing to pass up a falsehood that smears any movement, man, or effort heading in a direction they see as contrary to- AND THIS IS IMPORTANT- their understanding of the Bible.
Conservative Christians should be completely ashamed at the utter FOOLS they have made themselves in regard to science. Instead of humility, reason, and thoughtfulness, they have yet again interwoven themselves with the political right and the rich of this country in an arrogant stance against any meaningful response to global warming, and against any meaningful theological refinement as regards the origin of earth.
That their focus is upon their perception of the issues rather than the issues themselves is made manifest by the smears, lies, and ad hominem that they employ. These fallacious, salacious, and sometimes malicious chain emails epitomize such an approach to the issues. That conservative Christian laymen forward them on is a black mark on the church.
So much could be said but two major issues present themselves in this matter. The first is level to which conservative American Christians have become distrustful of government. Government is God-ordained, and we are to submit ourselves to the power, as well as paying taxes. Biblical government is entrusted with the general welfare of their respective societies, in matters violent, fraudulent, and social. Our willingness to transgress civil laws and regulations should only extend to the clear commands of God's word, and not the philosophy of any denomination, church, or party. Even in such a necessary transgression, we give government the respect it is due. And this extends to the support of its general mission, and a willingness to be regulated and pay taxes and redress grievances in the manner lawfully provided. On the other side, there must also be a willingness to hold government accountable if it transgresses its own law, for the sake of civil order.
The second major issue is the approach to authority that conservative American Christians have today. Independent churches and assemblies rail against denominations, Protestants protest against the magisterium, the country preacher complains about theologians in ivory towers. Each of these have their merits. but what is the real issue? The cult of the individual has infected the church to the point where it has gutted our Christian communities of deference, humility, and ultimately and consequently, love. Instead of recognizing the head for its function in the body, and our own organ for it's function in the body, we have all become soundly assured of our need to be complete bodies in and of ourselves. In this we trend towards a Spiritual state of staleness, pride, insensitivity, and generally the reverse of each and every fruit of the Spirit. Moreover, we defraud ourselves of the rich resources of the body, and of the occasion for thanksgiving to God for entrusting our Christian communities with uniquely gifted individuals. What we often fail to realize, is that a Spiritual gifting carries with it a level of authority in the exercise of that gift. So then we have teachers, administrators, givers, etc., with teachers by virtue of their Spiritual gifting and calling possessing an authority in the church to teach and set sound doctrine that not all have. Nonetheless even in this the pastors of conservative churches refuse to give place to another, defending their own final authority against all comers, often refusing to recognize others with same gifting if they will not fall in line.
If conservative Christians think they are leading lights back to the orderly authority structures of government, home, and church that supposedly existed prior to the counterculture, they are sorely mistaken. For in their whole approach to the issue they have shown themselves to be hypocrites in the very area on which they claim the high ground- authority. For authority and humility are two sides of a coin. That is why he who is servant is greatest of all. It is why Christ banished from His church the Gentile form of authority which admitted no humility.
The lies, smears, and everything else flow out of an authority structure that has given up humility for power- the conservative American church. In time and even now, the corruption of power has given us church after church devoid of the fruits of the Spirit, and consequently devoid of any true witness. Evangelicalism (and its rebellious son, Fundamentalism) as a whole, are being seen by the world for what it is, another regressive power structure standing in the way of human progress.
And with every shout of "liberal" and every less-than-truthful chain email and every ad hominem attack and every hook-up with the GOP/Limbaugh/Tea Party crowd (I see little difference any more) we dig our graves.
And on a civil level the evangelical church is participating the formation of a fascist right-wing which will engulf America one day and then eventually be defeated, fully discredited. And conservative Christianity will no longer be allowed to have a say, at all.

Monday, December 14, 2009

SCSite for Shelly-Cashman Cengage Texbooks

The companion website for the Shelly-Cashman (Cengage) series of textbooks is http://www.scsite.com

It does not come up on a Google search, but this blog post will. Happy studying!

scsite
SCSITE
ScSite
SCSite

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Christianity and Hell, An Answer

Luke 12:4-5
"And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!"

I am thankful for a number of resources that helped me in my study of the issue of hell and the Christian. First, a two part sermon by John Piper titled "The Echo and Insufficiency of Hell," available on SermonAudio.com. Secondly, an article that popped up on my church's website written by J. Gresham Machen titled "The Fear of God." Lastly, a short article written by Doug Britton titled "Counterfeit Freedom."
To recap, I have been asking, what is the point of Christianity other than the fear of hell? The answer to this question has many interesting facets.

The first point is that absolute freedom does not exist. You will serve either God, or sin and self. There is no third option, and you can't serve both. We may try to say, "‘It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.’" Is this not what we are in fact saying when we say we shouldn't be threatened with hell? But, in fact, as Machen puts it:

"Is this the way to overcome fear? Surely not! We can repeat such words only by the disguised cowardice of ignoring facts. As a matter of fact, our soul is not unconquerable; we are not masters of our fate or captains of our soul. Many a man has contemplated some foul deed at first with horror, and said, ‘Am I a dog that I should do this thing?’ And then has come the easy descent into the pit, the gradual weakening of the moral fibre, so that what seemed horrible yesterday seems excusable today; until at last, at some sad hour, with the memory of one’s horror of sin still in the mind, a man awakes to the realization that he is already wallowing in the mire. Such is the dreadful hardening that comes from sin. Even in this life we are not masters of our fate; we are of ourselves certainly not captains of our bodies, and we are of ourselves, I fear, not even captains of our souls."

The second point is similar, that absolute fearlessness does not exist. You will either fear God, or fear man. [See John Gill on Luke 18:2 as regards the judge who regarded not man- the fear of man as we are discussing it is not in view.] The fear of God is a righteous reverence that has the final judgement in view, and results in observance of God's commands. The fear of man is tyrannical as it is based upon the whims of peers and results in contradictory and capricious action that makes you as tyrannical as the men you serve. In the same way, the fear of God will cause you to become more like Christ. Which would you prefer? Because, again, you must choose to live by the fear of God. If you don't you will live by the fear of man. Machen puts it this way:

"The words of our text, with the solemn inculcation of fear, are also a ringing denunciation of fear: the ‘Fear him’ is balanced by ‘Fear not’. The fear of God is here made a way of overcoming the fear of man. And the heroic centuries of Christian history have provided abundant testimony to its efficaciousness. With the fear of God before their eyes, the heroes of the faith have boldly stood before kings and governors and said, ‘Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me, Amen.’"

This is why I quoted Luke 12:4-5 at the beginning. I believe Christ cuts to the core of the fear issue by clearly explaining that it's either the fear of man or the fear of God. Those are your options.

The third point relates to who God is. God is above you and me. God is sovereign. God is maker and ruler of all. He does not exist on the same plane as us; he is not our equal. He is the ultimate authority and power. It is His right to welcome into His presence or banish into eternal torment. He is the great I AM.

The fourth point relates to the third, and it concerns, as John Piper put it, the "echo" of hell. The root of our perplexity of why God would allow anyone to go to hell is our lack of appreciation for how great and glorious the God of the universe truly is. If hell is so terrible, how GREAT and MIGHTY and WONDERFUL must the Lord be, that to transgress His glory and His law requires it! So then we reveal that we don't have a very high estimation of who God is. We are offended at hell because we have brought God down to our level, or made ourselves the same as God. In these post-Enlightenment, post-Civil Rights Era days of equality and democracy it is altogether too easy to put God into an equality with ourselves. But He most certainly is NOT EQUAL to us!
Hell's terribleness has never been overstated, and likewise, neither has God's glory. At our most hyperbolic, we could not overstate the greatness and glory of the Almighty God!
Likewise, if hell is so terrible, then consider the greatness of Christ's salvation! Through His life, death on the cross, and resurrection, he has tasted death for every man (Heb 2:9), and satisfied an eternity in Hell for untold number of those who are to be saved! Truly, how great a salvation has been purchased by Christ's sacrifice!

"O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

"My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.

"Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
’Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
’Tis life, and health, and peace.

"He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me."

Lastly, no one is saved by the fear of hell. John Piper calls this the "Insufficiency of Hell." The fear of hell, of burning, of pain, is a natural fear. No work of the Holy Spirit is required for someone to profess Christ based on the fear of hell. Heaven is for those that love God, not for those that merely fear hell:
I Cor 2:9 - "But as it is written: 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.'"
James 1:12 - "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him."
The Holy Spirit convicts of sin, and judgement, and righteousness, not through masterful arguments, although those may be used to bring a person to the point of conviction. No, the Holy Spirit does his convicting work by exposing Christ in all His glory to the sinner, exposing the goodness and greatness and glory and power and majesty of His excellent Being. Salvation occurs when the sinner's heart makes the only proper response to this: surrendering and yielding to Him, recognizing Him as Lord, hating even the garment stained with the flesh. This is the meaning of Jude 23: the fear there is not fear of hell, but the fear of God engendered by the Holy Spirit's revealing of Who He is. They are pulled out of the fires of Hell because they despise sin, because they have seen the Lord of glory and now fear Him.

CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS

Romans 11:22a - "Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God"

What about you Christian? John Piper put forth a question like this: "If you could go to heaven, have all your loved ones there, have all the pastimes and amusements available, plenty of money, no tears, joy forever, a beautiful mansion, good health, but Christ was not there, would you be ok with that?"

Did you ever really LOVE God? Have you fallen out of love with God? Ask God to forgive you, and to show you Himself and His glory again. Saturate your life with His praises. Meditate on His goodness and righteousness. Read the Psalms. Play praise music. Until you can, from your heart, give him your own loving praise.

In short, Christianity is about nothing if it's not about Who God Is.

What of hell? Hell is for the Christian! John Piper says that hell is there to shock the Christian out of his worldliness (and complacency). Namely, worldliness is more than carnal Christianity. It is enmity with, or hatred toward, God, deserving of hell!

What of our witnessing? It should be designed to set forth Christ in His love, majesty, and glory. We should not threaten with hell, nor make hell a major part of our presentation. To scare an unbeliever into Christianity is to produce a counterfeit conversion. Let's allow the Holy Spirit to do His work.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Christianity and Hell, pt. 2

In considering my previous post, it seems that there are several different ways of answering the question, "Is Christianity merely about escaping from hell?"
First of all, it is important to recognize the assumption in this question. Namely, that there appears that there is nothing in Christianity that benefits our temporal, earthly existence. Put that way, it might seem silly.
Three Scriptures come to mind. The first is Jhn 10:10: "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." The second is Gal 5:22-23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." The third is Mat 6:33: "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."
These three Scriptures represent three ways of answering, or at least attempting to answer, the question. The first is to claim that as Christians, we are promised the "abundant life." However, the life Christ gives us eternal, and we have it now inasmuch as we are justified, and secondarily, as we are sanctified. The "abundant life" is about spiritual abundance- God working on us to make us more of what He is. It is entirely spiritual. God is in the business of soulcraft with His children- crafting our souls to come into conformity with His Spirit.
This doesn't answer the question satisfactorily. Spiritual development is great and all, but we know at the resurrection we shall be completely sanctified regardless of how far we progressed in our spiritual walk while in the flesh. If here-and-now Christianity is about sanctification, then Lord, transform me now! Give me an incorruptible body now! (I Cor 15) Why leave me here?
Secondly, we can attempt to answer the question by appealing to the fact that we have spiritual fruits that enable us to, if you will, "shine as a light" and "brighten the corner". These spiritual fruits are positive character traits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The problem with this answer is that the fruits of the Spirit don't seem to correlate with the Christian/non-Christian divide. There are plenty of good people in other religions or among non-believers; and there are plenty of bad apples among Christians. The latter could be explained as tares; how do you explain the former?
Thirdly, we can attempt to answer the question by saying that there is "kingdom work" to be done here on earth. But what is this "kingdom work?" Many churches are big on soulwinning. "Get them saved, train them, get them back out there to get more people saved" is their mode of operation. I used to be in a church like that. What's the point though. If all we are here for is to save people from hell, we're just begging our original question.
What is "kingdom work?" The Reconstructionist Christian Right has an answer. But Christ said in Jhn 18:36, "'My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.'" There is no record of early Christians trying to form a Christian Coalition or Moral Majority against the Roman government.
What else could be "kingdom work?" Some see it as the work within, the kingdom of God in our hearts. This is the kingdom as sanctification, and begs the question from the first approach dealing with sanctification, why leave us here?
What are we left with to define kingdom work? The social gospel? Liberation theology?
If the "kingdom of God" is purely future, this third approach does not provide a satisfactory answer either.
Christ said in the Lord's Prayer, "Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven." Perhaps the kingdom is merely God's will being done. In this way, "kingdom" is more understood as "reign" or "authority." The more God reigns over the hearts and actions of men, the more His kingdom is come. But isn't God already sovereign? What is God waiting for? And isn't defining the kingdom of God in this manner, as before, making it refer to sanctification yet again? Which again begs the question, what are here for when God could transform us anytime He wants?
Let the righteous be glorified, the unrepentant be damned. Call judgment now and be done with it. God knows all our hearts.
Maybe God is leaving us around because he is giving the hell-bound a chance. But that doesn't do anything to answer our question.

I guess I just don't get the whole big point of eternity. No, you are not going to heaven when you die. Biblically, as a Christian, you die, and in a twinkling the next thing you experience is the resurrection, then the judgment seat, then the marriage supper, then the millennial kingdom. If you are pre-trib, the judgment seat is in heaven. But I am post-trib. (Why is God going to raise me, take me heaven to judge me, then send me away from heaven's glory to come back to earth at Armageddon? And how are the tribulation saints judged?) In any case, you maybe get 7 years in heaven then it's back to this earth for a 1000 years, then a new earth and new atmosphere(heaven) is created, and the Holy City comes down. Sorry Christian. You don't spend much time, if any time, in heaven. It's back to this planet, just under new management.

Somebody get me excited about this.

I don't have answers.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mind Trap

Anyone out there care to comment on this?

Whilst eating lunch, I considered my disdain for personal evangelism.
The pastor summed it up perfectly the Sunday before last when he told us about a man who said that Christianity wasn't worth it. Since he gave up on Christianity, his life has been going smooth. But while he was a Christian, he was always struggling.
This is Biblical. As Christians, we are promised trials and testing, and are admonished in Scripture to not consider it strange.

So here's the mind trap.

So why would I recommend Christianity to someone given that is the case?

The inevitable answer from my Christian friends: so they don't end up in hell.

My inevitable reply: so Christianity is just about escaping from hell?

What say you?

Protect Yourself and Your Computer

Some disturbing news yesterday was that viruses and spy ware are now being used by pedophiles to use your machine to harvest child porn, and store it for them.
Obviously, this could get you in a lot of trouble, if the FBI shows up at your house and arrests you for it, and confiscates your computer.
The best way to guard yourself against this is to install an Internet filter on your machine. I have a link to K9 in my sidebar. After installing it, make sure it is set to block AT LEAST "pornography" and "security threats." I would also suggest having it block sites relating to "illegal activity." What this will do is prevent you or any process on your system from accessing these kinds of material without a password, even if you do get infected.

Also, here are my general tips for protecting your PC:
1. Remove paid antivirus software and install free antivirus software. You can't afford to let your subscription to paid antivirus lapse and then fail to be protected for even a short period of time. My suggestion is to remove these and install a free antivirus such as Avira, AVG, or Avast.
2. Install an Ad-Blocker. If you use Firefox, you can try Ad-Block Plus, which allows you to select a server from which it will obtain ad-blocking information. If you are willing to pay or don't mainly use Firefox, consider Ad Muncher, which will block ads from ANY application on your system. Unscrupulous ads are often the gateway to spy ware.
3. All three free antivirus programs above include spy ware protection. For additional spy ware protection, consider installing Spybot Search & Destroy. The disadvantage of this program is that it doesn't manually update itself... you need to make sure to update it maybe once a week, and tell the program to "Immunize" after the update has completed.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Unemployment

Unless you work for the federal government (not including the Postal Service), you need to have a plan for what you will do should you go to work one day only to be told you have been eliminated.
The "official" unemployment number just topped 10%. But that's the government's massaged, spun, happy-face number, also known as U-3.
The government's skeleton in the closet number, the broadest measure of unemployment, is U-6, and is over 17%.
That's not the end of it, because even U-6 is somewhat "messaged." It's not the raw number.

The raw number is 22.1%. (shadowstats.com) Finally, a number that actually represents what all of us are feeling.

Roughly one out of five people are out of work. You really need to have a plan. You need to have an idea of how your finances will play out in the first three months of unemployment. If you don't like the picture you see, do something to change it if you can, like saving or paying off debt- if you are not already living paycheck to paycheck like me. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, maybe you can put back your upcoming tax return for a rainy day, or use it to get rid of a monthly payment.

The markets are paying only a little attention to the situation; they have placed their faith in government numbers and stimulus. Same with the media; they trot out the government line too. It keeps people optimistic for now, but reality will catch up with everyone sooner or later.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Firefox Forgets your Logins pt.2

I posted before how to resolve the issue where Firefox forgets your logins every time you launch it.

However, I kept having to go through that procedure in order to fix things. It got SO annoying I went back to Firefox 2. Then I went back to Firefox 3 after upgrading to Windows 7, and it started happening again.

I removed Threatfire AND Spybot, with no success- THEN I found the culprit- the Firefox AdBlock extension! Since removing this extension, the problem has gone away.

I run FF3.5 with Adblock on my work XP computer, so this issue appears to only occur with AdBlock on FF3.x under Vista or 7.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Church Continues to Act Adulterously

From The New Republic:

"'We are turning to socialism and away from God!' Joseph Grab said as he stood amid the thousands who gathered on Capitol Hill today to attend Michele Bachmann’s 'House Call' protest against the health care reform bill. Grab, a retired engineer from Hershey, Pennsylvania, was clutching a leather-bound King James in his hand and a green sign that simply said 'Pray' in the other. 'This bill is going to include murdering babies, it’s going to bankrupt us, and it’s going to make totalitarianism grow,' he said gravely."

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Bringing on the Scary


I believe we are at "Return to Normal."


CIT goes bankrupt, from "The Guardian":

"Thousands of small and medium-sized businesses in the US face financial difficulties and could go out of business after lender CIT Group filed for bankruptcy protection last night. Although the company will keep operating, it is unlikely to be able to make the same number of loans as before. CIT provides working capital to small firms such as shops, their suppliers and restaurants, many of whom are already struggling in the recession.

In one of the the biggest corporate failures in US history, CIT made its filing in the New York bankruptcy court yesterday, after a debt-exchange offer to bondholders failed. CIT said most of its bondholders have agreed a prepackaged reorganisation plan which will reduce total debt by $10bn (£6.1bn) while allowing the company to continue to do business. The collapse is also bad news for US taxpayers, who stand to lose the $2.3bn provided last year to prop up the troubled lender.

Creditors will end up owning the company, while common and preferred shareholders – including the US government – will be wiped out by the plan. This is the government's biggest loss yet through its Troubled Asset Relief Programme (Tarp). "The decision to proceed with our plan of reorganisation will allow CIT to continue to provide funding to our small business and middle-market customers, two sectors that remain vitally important to the US economy," said CIT's chairman and chief executive, Jeffrey Peek, who will step down by the end of the year.

But retail trade groups are worried that many shops will be left without financing – and stock – ahead of the crucial Christmas season, with traditional banks also cutting back credit. CIT has provided funding to 2,000 firms that supply merchandise to more than 300,000 stores. About 60% of America's clothing industry depends on CIT for financing. Harold Reichwald of law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips said CIT's case is likely to force the company's customers to look elsewhere for financing. "If I was a small businessman, I would say to myself, 'I have to find alternatives'," he said. "In this marketplace, there aren't a lot of alternatives.""

An interview from the blog "The Automatic Earth":

"I think almost all assets will fall as price support is knocked out from underneath them, but the dollar should rise initially on a flight to safety. Scarce cash will be king for a long time, and the value of one’s currency relative to available goods and services domestically will matter much more for most people than its value relative to other currencies internationally.

In a deflationary scenario, prices fall, but purchasing power typically falls even faster, meaning that everything becomes less affordable despite the lower nominal prices. Prices in real terms, adjusted for changes in the supply of money and credit, are what matter.

In a world where almost everything is becoming rapidly less affordable, the essentials will be the least affordable of all, as a much larger percentage of a much smaller money supply will be chasing them. This will confer relative price support."

[...]

"Whereas inflation can conceal a fall in purchasing power, so that people may not even realize it is happening, deflation brutally exposes it. Wages would have to fall just to keep purchasing power the same, but keeping it the same will not be an option for cash-strapped employers. In addition, with a large surplus of labour, workers will have no bargaining power.

This is a recipe for exploitation the like of which we have not seen for a very long time, but in the intervening adjustment period it is likely to lead first to war in the labour markets.

I would expect general strikes and a breakdown in the reliability of centralized services such as healthcare, education, power systems, water treatment, garbage (and snow) removal etc. This will be exacerbated by plunging tax revenues for all levels of government, which governments will try to compensate for by raising taxes, on anyone still capable of paying, to punitive levels. We would thus expect rapidly deteriorating services at much higher cost.

Many people are at risk of being eventually priced out of the market for goods and services, and particularly the essential ones, entirely.

In my opinion, we stand on the brink of truly tragic circumstances."

What To Do When You Are Doubting God's Care

You may recall I posted earlier about wondering where God is, and why He doesn't seem to come through, and whether He is really listening. Well God has his ways, and while I still have the same job, the same finances, the same needs, He used some mostly unrelated things at church this weekend to teach me on this. So I will share it with you.

1. Recall what you know God has done for you in the past (I Sam 12:23-25)

When you really stop and think about all the times before that you know God worked in your life, it begins to seem really silly to doubt God. If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you have had important points in your life that you can point to, where God has stepped in and taken care of you. Taken together, these points in your life form a testimony to the goodness and faithfulness of God. Take time to quietly think back over your life and consider these times God has shown Himself faithful to you.

2. Realize God wants you to trust Him day by day (Mat 6:33-34)

In Psalm 37 we read, "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." Again, take a look back over your life. Has God ever left you desolate, as a Christian? Hasn't he always provided for your basic needs?
Also, whenever you have seemed to have lost it all, hasn't God always, in His time, set you back on your feet again? Even at the low points in your life God brings the ravens to sustain you through the times of testing and trial. A full savings account was never necessary to secure God's provision, was it?
Maybe you have been coasting along through life with your job and budget and paying bills and not thinking twice about it. Now you find yourself wondering how you will make it. Maybe God is trying to pull your focus to Him.

3. Remember that this world is not our home and our blessed hope is in Christ coming again (Tit 2:12-14)

I was raised on Southern Gospel music and much of that music was about heaven and the joy of seeing Christ face to face. Have you thought about His coming lately? When I thought about it, I was taken aback by how long it has been since I really stopped and meditated on Christ's coming and our final reward. As Christians, our expectation should be on Christ and His promises, and primarily on His promise to come again in glory and power. We will be glorified, sin's power will be completely broken, our new bodies will be whole and healthy, we will meet our departed brothers and sisters in Christ never to part again, and we will see Christ face to face! "Thy kingdom come" should be our heart's desire.

4. Let the Holy Spirit renew your mind and so transform you into His image (Rom 12:1-3)

The renewal/transformation is the process of sanctification, which is carried out by the Holy Spirit. It has three parts:
1. Reception- Learning/Conviction
2. Response- Obedience
3. Reward- Spiritual Growth
The Holy Spirit teaches and convicts you, after which when we choose to be obedient then the Spirit gives us the power to obey, after which our faith increases as we move forward in our Christian walk. However, this process can never happen if you aren't receptive to the things of the Spirit and of God.
Are you allowing yourself to be taught? Do you read the Scriptures? Do you attend church? Do you fellowship with other believers? Do you study spiritual matters and doctrines? All of these things are nothing in themselves- but they are powerful in that they are opportunities for you to receive teaching and instruction so that you may be more obedient and conformed to Christ.
Are you yielding to conviction? When the Spirit knocks at the door with a message of correction or rebuke, do you listen, or do you try to shut it out and ignore it?
God cares enough for your soul to send His Holy Spirit to teach, convict, comfort, and guide. He is very much interested in perfecting you. If I were working on a wooden replica of a sailboat, painstakingly recreating every detail, do you think I would leave it out in the rain without treating the wood? Or would I hand it to a 2 year old to break? Certainly not!
If you are a Christian, you will know the fine hand of God working out your spiritual condition over the years. And you must know that your spiritual condition is paramount to Him. If He must bring the circumstances around you down to the ground in order to advance the condition of your soul He will. If you are not focused on the work of the Spirit in your life and the renewing of your mind, you will not understand this, and you will condemn Him over circumstances when He is simply exercising responsible stewardship over your soul!
This is why the issue of the "renewing of your mind" is important. In making the Spirit's work in your life a primary focus you unlock the potential to actually have an answer for the question, "Why is this happening to me, God?"
If you DON'T have the answer to that question in your life right now, this is a clear indicator that you need to seek Him, and put more focus on what He trying to do for your soul. Your circumstances actually become an invitation from God to have a closer relationship. And to think we are upset about this!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

5 Version Readability Study: Mark 10:1-9 - Verse 4

Verse 4:
MSG: They answered, "Moses gave permission to fill out a certificate of dismissal and divorce her."

NLT: “Well, he permitted it,” they replied. “He said a man can give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away.”

NIV: They said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away."

NASB: They said, "Moses permitted a man TO WRITE A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY."

ESV: They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away."

"They said" (NIV/NASB/ESV) or "They answered" (MSG) or "They replied" (NLT)?
"They replied" seems repetitive at this point; it is obvious a dialogue is taking place. "They said" is not much better. "They answered" is best here. Although "answer" can be synonymous with "reply," this synonymity relies on an archaic form of "answer." Today's reader understands "answer" as a response to a specific query, and as such it provides more descriptiveness here, I think.
+1 MSG

"He"(NLT) or "Moses"(all others)?
Using the personal pronoun engages the reader to actively make an association with Moses in the preceding verse. On the other hand, "Moses" is in the text, and the difference isn't huge.

"permitted"(NLT/NIV/NASB) or "gave permission"(MSG) or "allowed"(ESV)?
"Permitted" and "gave permission" are slightly less familiar than "allowed," which seems best.
+1 ESV

"he said a man can"(NLT) or "to"(all others)?
Now is the time to deal with the elephant in the room. I'll say it up front; the NLT is excessively wordy in this verse. Instead of a simple construction like "Moses allowed a man to" the NLT goes a does "Well, he permitted it...He said a man can..." I don't like it at all. It doesn't serve increase comprehension; this particular phrase is not that difficult in the first place.
-1 NLT

"fill out"(MSG) or "give his wife"(NLT) or "write"(all others)?
The MSG has me chuckling again; "fill out" sounds like a modern day couple going down to fill out printed forms! Nonetheless, it's not a huge deal, although I don't particularly like it. "Give his wife" actually reflects what the OT text being referred to here is saying- but it interpretive, and not in the Greek at all. Besides being the literal translation, "write" is the simplest, and it avoids the association a modern reader would make with forms.
+1 NIV, NASB, ESV

"written notice"(NLT) or "certificate"(all others)?
When I think certificate, I think of a graduation certificate, or an award certificate- some honor or credential bestowed by a higher authority. As such, "written notice" works better for modern readers.
+1 NLT

"dismissal and divorce her"(MSG) or "divorce and send her away"(all others)?
The latter gets to the point quicker and in a simpler fashion- AND is more literal.
+1 NLT, NIV, NASB, ESV

Verse 4 winner: ESV



A look at the old King James

KJV: And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.

The KJV has a case of "and-itis" here, in addition to using the archaic terms "suffered" and "bill." "Divorcement" is also an odd word to modern readers. "Put her away" is archaic as well; to modern ears it sounds like the woman is a piece of clothing!


A compilation of winners so far: Mark 10:1-4 composed of winning verses


Then Jesus left Capernaum and went down to the region of Judea and into the area east of the Jordan River. Once again crowds gathered around him, and as usual he was teaching them. Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?”
"What did Moses command you?" he replied.
They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away."

v.1-2:NLT; v.3:NIV; v.4:ESV

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wherever You Go...

So I am out of fundamentalism.
Well, at least the extreme, separatist types. The whole KJVO, hyper-separation, etc., etc. is in my past. Heck, my church doesn't even have "Baptist" in the name.
I have been wont to refer to my church as conservative evangelical, but honestly, I think it falls somewhere between Bob Jones and John MacArthur. John MacArthur, Bob Jones, and John Rice historically represent the three main branches of fundamentalism. As such, it fits very much in the fundamentalist category. My previous "conservative evangelical" estimation was my latent hyper-separatism talking- my John Rice/Jack Hyles "we're the REAL fundamentalists" background. I thought that was gone already! So even as of October 2009, I am STILL rooting out that old hyper-separatist junk from my mind and soul.
So I now I get to deal with me. Darn. A number of blogs have closed recently, that have dealt with problems in certain fundamentalist circles. They, as I, have concluded that leaving is preferable to reforming, and they want to focus on their new spiritual direction. As I do. This is noble; we should all seek to grow in grace. The endless battles over KJV and pants and music and dictator pastors and gimmicky evangelism methods just gets old and realize few are listening and it upsets you more than anything.
But--- you are left with you. That is a scary thing. Do you really want to work on yourself? If you do, be prepared for some depression. God has worked good through it, to establish doctrine and to clear out the excuses for your lack of vibrant spiritual life. OK, now you are at the church of your dreams (more or less). How is your soul now, Christian? You are left with yourself, aren't you? Wherever you go, there you are. Isn't it frustrating?
You still don't know what a victorious prayer life is, do you? You still ask yourself whether that's the voice of God or if that is your own mind? You go even further and sometimes, in the middle of the night, and increasingly during the day, you secretly ask yourself whether God even exists.
You start rationalizing that when Jesus said if two or more ask something in His name, He will do it, whether he really meant two or more of the APOSTLES he was speaking to. Because you and your wife or husband or pastor have beseeched the Lord in prayer together without answer.
Even though you maintain a belief in prayer and the Bible and church you begin to wonder whether the Lord cares less about what you believe and more about your doubts. If he that doubts the food is damned when he eats, is he that doubts the goodness of God damned if he beseeches Him? You secretly know that if your heart was freed of your mind you would never step foot in church again.
Or maybe it's just me.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Noam Chomsky and the Right-Wing

Noam Chomsky, in this video, appears to be seeing the same thing I see:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

US Residents Must Prepare

I promise I will get back to the version readability posts. I have had a lot on my mind lately and I think it is important that you read what I am about to write. You may have noticed that an ex-Goldman Sachs exec was just named to be COO of the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission). Obama (who I voted for) is doing nothing about corruption and it will hurt us all badly in the years to come as the oncoming crisis is NOT averted.

*****

With the headwinds facing us (corruption, no manufacturing base, declining dollar) it seems amazing anyone can hold off the inevitable, but a cabal of extremely powerful elites will stave off the crisis for their own purposes (and in doing so, make it much worse) until late in the game, no earlier than 2014.
We are in the late stages of the unraveling; this is one last call for personal preparation. One shouldn't assume the US will emerge victorious from the coming armed world crisis; as a matter of fact, there are no structural or strategic reasons to believe this will even be a possibility. Is the chance that a mid-crisis game-changer will give the US the upper hand worth risking your lifestyle and the tranquility of your family? Serious consideration should be given to emigration.
Obama (whom I voted for) is doing nothing to stop the corruption, thereby allowing the US to continue its plunge into crisis. Even his commendable domestic initiatives (health care, financial regulation, environmental issues) are hobbled because of corrupt influence.
In a twist of irony, the very right-wing who are carrying water for these elites and corporate fat-cats will be the beneficiaries of Obama's failure to halt the slide into crisis.
In 2012 or 2016 we are going to get a president that makes G.W. Bush look like a pansy. And America will laud him. He will climb on the back of Obama like Obama climbed on the back of Bush. And we will give him our liberties in exchange for security. And he will take us to war.
Fascism has come to America and will bloom fully in Obama's wake. Our country is divided and will remain so. The right will ascend, and they will assume a mandate to extinguish the so-called "liberal" elements. Having given up liberties, a civilian military force very much similar to the Nazi SA will be tasked with providing for our "security" but will also function as a harassment squad for these "liberal" elements.
A majority of the evangelical and fundamentalist churches will align with this new order mainly in the interest of finally winning the culture war, but also in the same self-interest that will have drawn Americans in general into this state.
And do you think this new, fascist regime will wait to strike? Most certainly not! The idea of "pre-emptive strike" will undergo a revival. Having deployed troops within its own borders to maintain security, it will strike at external perceived threats. And the world will abide this for a time, because we are the US.
The world will eventually strike back at us.

I am about to say a hard thing- if my vision of the US comes to pass, then it is not a country that I want to see win that fight. History will wreak its destructive judgment on this nation- rather, God will have His judgment. Not because of the sins of individuals as many conservatives think, but because of the sins against humanity that are and will be perpetuated by our government, and mostly because of a adulterous American church who has played the harlot by selling herself to the political system in the form of the "religious right." You see, God is not as concerned with our nation as He is with His church. He will truly winnow the church, the chaff will blow away, and the wheat will endure through great tribulation.

We are reminded of the warning of Revelation 18:4-
"And I heard another voice from heaven saying, 'Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.'"

You can have faith now, and leave. Or have faith later, and endure. Your faith will be tested no matter what. Will you be simple, or prudent?

Proverbs 22:3-
"A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, But the simple pass on and are punished."

I am not a prophet. If I am anything, I desire to be a prudent man that foresees.
What am I doing to prepare? I am praying that God would open a door for me to escape what is coming to pass. Maybe you can start there. Maybe you need to let go of your attachment to the American way of life. Actually, I know you do. If you don't now, you will later. Even now, millions of people made homeless by the current recession are learning the lesson we all will learn eventually.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

You Just Want to Do What You Want to Do

I know some of you out there think people just find good-sounding arguments to defend doctrine that lets them do what they want to do.
Stop and think about your mindset for a moment. If you think this way, then what you are really saying is that the more a rule restricts you from things you do like and makes you do things you don't like, the better it is.
Where'd you get that idea? It directly contradicts Colossians 2:20-23. (If you think this passage is speaking positively about ordinances that have a "shew of wisdom" then you need to set down the KJV which you evidently don't understand and pick up a modern version.)

It is the mark of Pharisee to judge your doctrine by it's strictness. If this is you, you are a legalist. If you think legalism is only about salvation, you are a legalist. I make these statements emphatically and unapologetically, and I welcome your dissent and argument in order that I may prove these things to you more fully.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

5 Version Readability Study: Mark 10:1-9 - Verse 3

Verse 3

MSG: Jesus said, "What did Moses command?"

NLT: Jesus answered them with a question: “What did Moses say in the law about divorce?”

NIV: "What did Moses command you?" he replied.

NASB: And He answered and said to them, "What did Moses command you?"

ESV: He answered them, "What did Moses command you?"


"And He answered and said to them"(NASB) OR "He answered them"(ESV) OR "he replied"(NIV) OR "Jesus answered them with a question"(NLT) OR "Jesus said"(MSG)?
Simple is better here. The NASB is definitely too wordy. The NLT is very wordy too. As with the previous verse, the NIV comes out the champion in simplicity. The ESV is abrupt ("He answered them") and the MSG ("Jesus said") doesn't give any hint that this is an answer or reply. In the NLT's defense, its wording pairs well with the previous verse ("Some Pharisees ... tried to trap him with this question"/"Jesus answered them with a question") but the NLT could have hewed more toward the simpler NIV rendering on these two phrases without losing readability.
+1 NIV

Should the above phrase come after(NIV) or before(all others) the question?
I like the phrase coming before the question because it matches up to the previous verse and draws the contrast better. The NIV's placing of the phrase after the question gives it a more "conversational" feel though, which is nice too. Either is good!

"command"(MSG) OR "command you"(NIV, NASB, ESV) OR "say in the law about divorce"(NLT)?
The NLT is sort of obligated to the longer rendering so that the reader is informed that the Mosaic law is being referred to, since it did not use "legal" or "lawful" in the preceding verse. So for contextual clarity, the NLT does well. Nonetheless, the reference to "Moses command" is a clear reference to the law, so the extra verbiage is not strictly necessary, and the NLT ends up losing the force that the word "command" brings. I don't think the "you" is strictly necessary either, but because it might add smoothness in the eyes of some, and it has the support of formal versions, I think it is a good thing.
+1 NIV, NASB, ESV

Verse 3 winner: NIV


A look at the Old KJV

"And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?"

Except for the word "unto", the KJV reading is equal to the NASB. Like the ESV, though, the KJV gets stuck in the "and" trap, starting 6 out of the first 9 verses of Mark 10 with "and." As I understand it, the Greek sometimes requires a fair amount of "breaking up" to make it good (modern) English.
The word "unto" has fallen into relative unuse today. A simple online search turns up 9003 "unto"s in the KJV, none in the NASB, NLT, or MSG, and only 2 in the NIV and 3 in the ESV.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Laying it Out There

So I am over on the Internet Monk blog reading about the church offering. I try to give a little during the benevolent offerings, which are taken maybe 4-5 times a year? I don't tithe. I believe tithing was a command to Israel and not the church. I do not give to my church regularly. There. I said it.
Would I if I could? Sure. Do I feel guilty for not giving more? Should I?
Currently my family has a laundry list of needs:

-Our mattress was purchased used two years ago and has gotten to the point where it is mostly gone and needs to be replaced,
-The car needs a brake job, four new tires, transmission/radiator fluid changes, wiper blades.
-I need more clothes, and so does my wife, although she doesn't want to admit it.
-We are going to need a 2-bedroom apartment next year- our son will be turning 1 year old.

I make a nominal $14.40/hr. (Would be $16 but our company implemented at 10% across-the-board pay cut earlier this year.) Health insurance drops that to $11.41/hr. To support a family of 3 in San Diego. The fact that we make it at all is due primarily to the goodness of God and that we have -zero- debt or tax liability.

With the needs above I have a problem with diverting money away from my family especially since Scripture calls those who do not take care of their families "worse than infidels."

I am not complaining. Just saying. And before you whip out Malachi 3 on me, you should know I have been down that road before.

5 Version Readability Study: Mark 10:1-9 - Verse 2

Verse 2

MSG: Pharisees came up, intending to give him a hard time. They asked, "Is it legal for a man to divorce his wife?"

NLT: Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?”

NIV: Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?"

NASB: Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife.

ESV: And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?"


"And Pharisees came"(ESV) or "Pharisees came"(MSG) or "Some Pharisees came"(All others)?
The only version that begins this with "And" is the ESV. Looking back, the ESV starts both sentences in v.1 with "and" as well. It's getting long in the tooth.
The MSG's "Pharisees came" is ok, but too abrupt.
"Some Pharisees came" makes for the smoothest reading here.
-1 ESV And, and, and...
+1 NLT, NIV, NASB

"came"(NLT, NIV) or "came up"(MSG, NASB, ESV) or "came up to Jesus"(NASB)?
It is interesting here that the most formal (NASB) would be the most explanatory. To me, the word "up" isn't entirely necessary. As far as the NASB reading "Jesus" here, all versions have a personal pronoun later to refer back to "Jesus" in v.1. However, having "Jesus" in v.2 is makes comprehension easier.
+1 NASB

"and" (All but the NASB):
A transitional word is needed here for smoothness. A really great reading here would be "Some Pharisees came up to test/trick Jesus," which I would have liked best of all. That said, the NASB isn't bad here, just not smooth.
+1 MSG, NLT, NIV, ESV

"in order to test him asked"(ESV) or "testing Him, and began to question Him"(NASB) or "tested him by asking"(NIV) or "tried to trap him with this question" (NLT) or "intending to give him a hard time. They asked"(MSG)?
All our versions go different ways here. The ESV's "in order to" is unwieldy. The reading of the MSG makes me want to chuckle, it's too much of a paraphrase. The NASB and NIV are similar; a difference basically between "came and tested" vs. "came testing." The NASB is concise but too abrupt while the NIV is smoother. The NLT is definately a paraphrase here, but while it doesn't go beyond bounds in the way that the MSG does, it's sort of wordy. The NIV, though, is simple and smooth.
+1 NIV

"whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife"(NASB) or "is it legal for a man to divorce his wife"(MSG) or "should a man be allowed to divorce his wife"(NLT) or "is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife"(NIV, ESV)?
Lawful, legal, or allowed? The Pharisees are asking this question concerning the Mosaic law, so any of these would do. However, the modern reader would get the wrong idea from the word "legal" and possibly "lawful." "Allowed" fits in the context and helps focus the reader's attention on the issue of divorce better than the others.
+1 NLT

Verse 2 winner: NLT

The NIV and NLT tie with three points. The NLT's use of "allowed" in the wording of the Pharisee's question is the tie breaker for me, though, as it directly avoids the confusion of what the Pharisees meant by "legal" or "lawful". As we will see in the next verse, the issue of the Mosaic law comes out in all versions, so the NLT isn't "hiding" anything from the careful student of Scripture.
The NLT is wordier here than the NIV but it works to good purpose in aiding ready comprehension.

A Look at the Old KJV


And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.

I like what the KJV does in this verse, putting the issue of temptation by the Pharisees after the question. Newer versions, by putting the issue of temptation before the question, make more work for themselves in having to mesh coming, tempting, and asking in the first part of the verse.
Two personal pronouns before the question and the phrase "put away" make this rendering a poor choice for reading, however.

Additional Note

It might seem to some of you that with a moment's worth of attention any of these differences are trivial so what's the point? The Scripture talks about the "twinkling of an eye," which I have heard referred to as the time it takes for your eye to go from one letter to the next. That's fast! If the words and grammar on the page fit the framework of language you use on a daily basis, the concepts appear in your mind instantly.
If they do not, or only fit to a point, your brain will signal you to slow down and study the text- but not always. Sometimes your brain will make an assumption that is false.
The point being, if you are intending to read as opposed to studying, you will either be slowed down or given the illusion that you get it when you don't. And that means less opportunity to reflect on the truths of the Bible and more time spent picking through words or just plain being wrong until you realize your mistake.

Monday, October 05, 2009

5 Version Readability Study: Mark 10:1-9 - Verse 1

I am going to do a readability study of 5 versions using the first nine verses of Mark 10. The five versions are the New Internation Version, the New Living Translation, the Message, the New American Standard Version, and the English Standard Version. I chose this passage because it appeared today in my daily NRSV bible reading email. I am not going to be engaging in textual-critical matters except where I must, but I will be concerned with accuracy as well, relying on formal translations (NASB/NKJV/NET) primarily to determine this.
Today I start with verse 1.


Verse 1:

NIV: Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.

NLT: Then Jesus left Capernaum and went down to the region of Judea and into the area east of the Jordan River. Once again crowds gathered around him, and as usual he was teaching them.

MSG: From there he went to the area of Judea across the Jordan. A crowd of people, as was so often the case, went along, and he, as he so often did, taught them.

NASB: Getting up, He went from there to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan; crowds gathered around Him again, and, according to His custom, He once more began to teach them.

ESV: And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them.


"there"(MSG, NASB, ESV)/"that place"(NIV) or "Capernaum"(NLT):
Capernaum adds clarity here.
+1 NLT: "Then Jesus left Capernaum..."

"down"(NLT):
Adds clarity here as regards direction.
+1 NLT: "...and went down..."

"area"(MSG) or "region"(all others):
"area" is the more familiar word, but...

One area "region of Judea across Jordan" (MSG) or two "Judea and..." (All others)?
Unless I am mistaken, Judea is west of Jordan. Crossing Jordan coming from Capernaum would put you east of it. Clearly Christ visited two areas. The MSG doesn't appear accurate. On the other hand, the NLT clarifies by adding that it was "east."
-1 MSG: Inaccurate!
+1 NLT: "...the region of Judea and into the area east of the Jordan..."

"River" (NLT):
Just in case you didn't know Jordan was a river, the NLT lets you know, but the way I see it, it isn't really necessary.
+0 NLT: 6 of one, 1/2 dozen of another...

"Once" (NLT):
I don't see the purpose of this additional word in the NLT. I am disappointed.
-1 NLT: Wordy!

"Gathered"(NLT, NASB, ESV) or "Came"(NIV, MSG):
"Gathered" draws the picture much better than "came" and has the support of formal versions.
+1 NLT: "...crowds gathered around him..."
+1 NASB: "...crowds gathered around Him..."
+1 ESV: "...crowds gathered to him..."

"Usual"(NLT) or "custom"/"accustomed"(NIV, NASB, ESV) or "as he so often did"(MSG):
"Usual" is the more familiar word. "As he so often did" is wordy.
+1 NLT: "...and as usual he was teaching them."
-1 MSG: Wordy!

Verse 1 winner: NLT.


KJV Confusion

In looking at the question of whether Jesus went into one region or two I took a look at the old KJV. It reads:

"And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again."

Hmmm. "Coasts" of Judea! So Christ went to one destination, the east side of Jordan on the "coast" of Judea.
The problem here is that "coasts" is an archaic way of saying region or area- it isn't referring to the waterside. If all you had was the KJV, you might get the wrong idea.
Even knowing that, you might still be tempted to stick with a such a conclusion based on the presence of the word "by." If He came near to Judea "by" the "farther side of Jordan," he would be approaching it at its coast.
Again, "by" is used in an archaic sense; John Gill in his commentary indicates that this is best understood as "to." So in today's language, the KJV is to be understood as saying, "and cometh into the region of Judaea to the farther side of Jordan" which would reflect what really happened: Jesus traveled from Capernaum through Judea and crossed Jordan.

This illustrates why I do not believe the KJV is good for casual/daily/devotional reading.

Every Day with Jesus

"Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.
Every day with Jesus, I love Him more and more;
Jesus saves and keeps me, and He's the One I'm waiting for.
Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before."

Really? Be honest now is this true for you? EVERY day Jesus is a little sweeter for you? Because it just doesn't seem to work that way in my experience...

Friday, October 02, 2009

Extremist KJVOism

So, having access to some of the Sword of the Lord archives, it has become apparent to me the progression from not-KJVO to TR-Only to KJVO.
- Not-KJVO is represented by Dr. John R. Rice's March 30, 1979 article "Some Questions for King James Fans."
- TR-Only is represented by Ev. Gary R. Hudson's March 17, 1989 article "Ruckman's Unscriptural Claims for the K.J.V."
- Full-on KJVO is represented in the position of the Sword today.

The following three statements are in the editor's note at the end of the TR-Only 1989 article:
"The King James Version, in our opinion, is without peer and need fear no competition."
"We cannot agree that one can take the English Bible and correct the Greek from which it was
translated."
"And we certainly disagree with Peter Ruckman's statement, ''Mistakes in the AV 1611 are advanced revelation." That is adding to the Word of God, which is strictly forbidden in the Scriptures. If the KJV contains advanced revelation, as Ruckman claims, then where was the inspired Bible before 1611?"

Notice the editor did not say there were NO mistakes. He merely said the KJV is best but it doesn't correct the Greek as "advanced revelation".
They would not be willing today, to admit to ANY mistakes in the KJV.

John R. Rice understood that KJVO promoters are extremists. From his 1979 article:

"Why Cannot Fans and Extremists About the King James Version Be Good Christians Also?

"It is a sad thing that those in some heresy often err greatly inmatters of righteousness also. They write mean letters; they make slanderous charges; they ignorantly jump to conclusions about people; they have suspicions and innuendoes. No, if a man is a good enough Christian to be right on the matter of inspiration, he ought to be a good enough Christian to control his tongue. The Bible says plainly:
'Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul."—Prov. 22:24,25.'"

also....

"And we think it is almost blasphemous to say that if God didn' t guarantee every word translated in the King James Version to be correct, then He is "either careless or impotent to keep His Word pure thru the ages." God could have preserved all the original manuscripts, but did not. God is not either "careless or impotent" if He does not do just as some extremist or radical demands."

This understanding of the extremist nature of KJVOism is not Rice's alone. I remember when I first come to my current church. I emailed the pastor a number of questions, one having to do with KJVOism. (He did not know for sure at the time that I was not KJVO.) He let me know that while the church uses the KJV, they are not KJVO. Most striking was statement that "this has been the most divisive issue I have faced in my 17 years as pastor. I don't argue it with anyone anymore."

Extremism and divisiveness go hand in hand. If you attempt to cater to or appease an extremist, a line in the sand will be drawn for you very quickly. And you will be expected to take a side.

The line got drawn for the Sword in the years after Rice's death by the conversion of Hyles and his crowd to KJVO in 1984. The Sword straddled somewhat until going full-on KJVO with the publication of Riplinger's New Age Bible Versions and the death of Curtis Hutson.

Now THEY are extremists also.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

New KJV Issue Link in the Sidebar

I have obtained and posted the article "Some Questions for King James Fans" written by John R. Rice in 1979 in the sidebar to the right.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wrong Generation for Me

I sometimes wish I had been born 30-35 years earlier than I was.
- I could've joined in with the cultural revolution,
- Rocked out to the Beatles, and other classic rock, -live-,
- Tried out the whole hippie thing,
- Joined some revolutionary group,
- Been around for the infancy of mass computing (early computer kits, big mainframes)
- Enjoyed America as it was before Nixon and Reagan screwed it up

As it is, my generation is facing a pending international crisis that will resolve into necessary civic conformity (think post-WWII America before the counter-culture). Oh well. I can't wait until this next decade (2010-2020) is over and we can truly get on with whatever the "new normal" will turn out to be.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hard Times

I read the following sober message today about the now-defunct Langa Air. Langa Air was the only Cessna Pilot Center in the St. Louis, MO area. It made me think back to all the times I spoke with them.

"To Students and Customers:


"As you know, we are all in an economic crisis. Having been in the business of aviation for over 20 years, we have seen "hard times" when we had to lay off employees, cut wages, and reduce expenses. We have seen times with increased fuel costs, increasing insurance rates, and even an extended period following 9/11 when we were unable to train for nearly one month due to the closure of airspace. Despite those hard times, we always found a way to survive and pull through. But, we are in unparalleled times.


"The owner of Langa Air, Inc. has gone to great lengths to survive this unprecedented crisis. He has sacrificed his income, financial health and retirement to infuse Langa Air, Inc. with cash to sustain operations. Some employees even agreed to a wage reduction recently to ensure all of those who do business with Langa Air, Inc. would continue to do so. Despite these efforts, the economy, together with the inability to secure operating loans, Langa Air, Inc. has no alternatives remaining.
"It is with profound sadness that we are closing the doors to Langa Air, Inc. and terminating business effective September 1, 2009. Unfortunately, there will be no remaining employees, including flight instructors, mechanics, and flight line personnel, to provide support for use of training aircraft. As a result, you will not be able to presently train with Langa Air.


"Langa will make available the training records to any and all students within 30 days unless the Bankruptcy court directs otherwise. Please check the web site www.langaair.com periodically for updates.


"Please keep in your thoughts and prayers the good employees of Langa Air, Inc. and their families."

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Even More Tech Support Help

Don't complain about how much you have had to go through and many times you have tried to get the software to work if this is the first time you have called us.

Another Tech Support Tip

If you are having problems with our program, don't uninstall it before calling tech support. There's nothing to troubleshoot if you don't have the program on your computer.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Next Market Drop

John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Investments states what I have seen intuitively for a while now:

"As I wrote in August 2000 and August 2006, I write again in August 2009: there is a recession in our future. I was early both of those times and I am early now, maybe two years early, though I doubt it. And as I pointed out both of those last times, the stock market drops an average of over 40% during a recession.
[...]
"The next bear market, as I wrote in 2003 and in Bull's Eye Investing, will likely be the bottom. (It takes at least three of them to really take us to the bottom.) But the next one will change perceptions for a long time. Valuations will drop. Savings will rise even more. And a generation will grow up. The adults will return. Chastened. Scarred. Shaken. But we will Muddle Through. That is what we do."

The current "bear rally" is building people's confidence to the point where when the next nosedive does happen, people will be disillusioned. They won't know what to believe in anymore. This type of brokenness is a good thing because you have to be honest. You have to admit your mistakes. You have to ask for help. We will then rebuild.

Martin A. Armstrong forecasts the next low in June 2011. If this is true, we could see this next leg down come as late as fall 2010. I doubt it will be later than that, but it could be as early as next month. It is now not a question of "if," but "when."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

What's Gonna Happen...

What's gonna happen to me when my church finds out I'm a left-wing liberal? (Politically, that is.)
I think about the guy who bemoaned Obama as a murderer and lamented his "wasting of money" in a public prayer on a Sunday morning.
I think about the pastor who referred to health care reform as "Obamacare" in church tonight.
Will I get crucified again? Yet again? I guess I have the experience, LOL.
I don't think the church should be partisan. But that doesn't prevent anything.
I already have one very conservative friend outside of church who won't have anything to do with me anymore. This was because I got tired of the arguments and tried to get him to put politics on the back burner. We didn't have to talk about it. Now he says I am a "fool" who won't recieve instruction, so he can't hang out with me. Yeah, pulling Bible into this. Yeah, how about we grab the Bible and go over his life with it.
I am sick and tired of some people. Yeah yeah I know. America is better than everybody else. Americans are better than everybody else. And every American knows it. That's why we fight each other instead of helping each other. I'm tired of the arrogance.

Friday, August 28, 2009

More Proof America is Run by Big Business

From Consumerist:

"When the CPSIA—the toy safety law that requires independent lab tests on toys—was passed, a lot of smaller toy manufacturers complained that it was really a dirty trick by the big toy companies to increase overhead for the small ones. Now comes word that the government has secretly exempted Mattel from the law's testing requirements—even though Mattel was responsible for 6 lead-tainted toy recalls in 2007."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Barney Frank Confronts Woman At Townhall Comparing Obama To Hitler

And You Wonder Why I Am Down About America....

From ThinkProgress:

"One poll question indicative of how difficult it is to gain public understanding on a complicated issue asked if respondents thought the government should ‘stay out of Medicare,’ something inherently impossible. 39% said yes."

"Trashy Women"

and now for a slice of Americana. :)

Del Tha Funkee Homosapien - Mistadobalina (HD Version)

and now in the category of things that amuse you at 11:20 at night when you can't sleep.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Another Tech Support Tip

If you put our software on some old computer you had sitting in your garage, or some old, crusty computer that you have had for years, it may not work.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More Tech Support Tips

1. We don't care what your "IT guy" said. It doesn't matter how smart he/she is.
2. If your computer is running slow, or has pop ups, or comes up with odd errors every so often, get that fixed before asking me to get our software running properly on your computer.

Thank you!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Musiq Soulchild - Don't Change

"If you find someone that you know you love, just love that person. God will see you through the rest of the way."

July 21-25, 2006

2Cr 2:6-8
This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.
Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Firefox Forgets Your Website Logins

I have had a problem with Firefox 3.0 and 3.5 where, upon closing and reopening the browser, I had to log back into all my sites, even though I had set them to stay logged in. Here is how to resolve the problem:

1. Close Firefox

2. Delete the cookies.sqlite and cookies.sqlitejournal from one of the following locations:
Vista/7: C:\Users\{your user folder}\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\{random characters}.default
XP/2000: C:\Documents and Settings\{your user folder}\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\{random characters}.default
-You may need to show hidden files and folders. Here's how:
Vista/7: Click Organize>Folder and Search Options>View then select Show Hidden Files and Folders
XP: Click Tools>Folder Options>View then select Show Hidden Files and Folders
-IF THE FILES WON'T DELETE, GO TO STEP 4

3. Launch Firefox and log back into your sites. Close out and relaunch to test. You're done!

4. Go to Start>My Computer (or Computer in Vista/7). Right click on the C: drive and choose Properties. Click the Tools tab and choose Check Now. If Vista, click Continue. Make sure the option for Automatically fix file system errors is selected, click Start. Select the option to Schedule the check for the next boot.

5. Restart the computer, then go back to step 2.

This is an SQLite issue, so don't expect Mozilla to fix this. They would have to add code into the browser to give you a button to read the information from, delete, and rebuild the Firefox SQLite database files. Sounds like an extension begging to be written, though.

Edit 11/7/09: If you continue to have to do these steps on Windows Vista or Windows 7 all the time, remove the AdBlock extension. This is what permanently solved the problem for me.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Planned Obsolescence

I just purchased a Samsung SCH-i730 smart phone with Windows Mobile 5. I am enjoying it very much. It is a couple of years behind the curve, but it does what I want, and most current Windows Mobile applications will work with it.
Today I ran across a really heated article about how, in the face of the iPhone, Windows Mobile just needs to die and go away. Now, there are merits to both sides of that argument. However, the current iPhone craze is little more than the iPhone being the winner of a popularity contest. It's cool, it does stuff, it looks neat. It is superior in some ways; but not to the point of sealing the fate of the competition.
Another area this issue arises is with digital cameras. My mom has a 3.2 megapixel Fuji digicam that still works wonderfully to this day. 3.2MP is enough to produce excellent 4x6 prints, and decent 8x10 prints as well. A 5MP is more than most people need... And yet, I'll never forget the words of a coworker some years back, to the effect that he wanted lots of "megapistols." LOL. Nevermind that 8, 9, 10, 11 MPs is overkill. Nevermind that 20+ different scene modes are also overkill. These are specs that SELL. So digicam manufacturers cram 10MPs on the same little electronic image sensor they've always used because they know it will sell, even though that level of pixel density makes any shot taken above ISO 200-400 poor quality.
We are stupid.

From Wikipedia:

****************
Origins of planned obsolescence go back at least as far as 1932 with Bernard London's pamphlet Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence. However, the phrase was first popularized in 1954 by Brooks Stevens, an American industrial designer. Stevens was due to give a talk at an advertising conference in Minneapolis in 1954. Without giving it much thought, he used the term as the title of his talk.

From that point on, "planned obsolescence" became Stevens' catchphrase. By his definition, planned obsolescence was "Instilling in the buyer the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary."

Stevens' term was taken up by others, and his own definition was challenged. By the late 1950s, planned obsolescence had become a commonly used term for products designed to break easily or to quickly go out of style. In fact, the concept was so widely recognized that, in 1959, Volkswagen mocked it in a now-legendary advertising campaign. While acknowledging the widespread use of planned obsolescence among automobile manufacturers, Volkswagen pitched itself as an alternative. "We do not believe in planned obsolescence," the ads suggested. "We don't change a car for the sake of change."

In 1960, cultural critic Vance Packard published The Waste Makers, promoted as an exposé of "the systematic attempt of business to make us wasteful, debt-ridden, permanently discontented individuals."

Packard divided planned obsolescence into two sub categories: obsolescence of desirability and obsolescence of function. "Obsolescence of desirability", also called "psychological obsolescence", referred to marketers' attempts to wear out a product in the owner's mind. Packard quoted industrial designer George Nelson, who wrote: "Design... is an attempt to make a contribution through change. When no contribution is made or can be made, the only process available for giving the illusion of change is 'styling.'"
****************

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

KJVO Gail Anne Riplinger Won't Sell Her Book to James White

From the AOMin blog:

"So, do you think Mrs. Riplinger is overly confident of her new book? I am reminded of the fact that when I was writing the KJVO Controversy book in 1994, I would fax the portions about Riplinger to her for her comment and correction. One night, after the first page was sent, the fax hung up. She did not even want to receive what I was writing so as to check it for accuracy.
"The self-delusional proponents of conspiracy-driven KJV Onlyism, seen with the harshest clarity in Gail Riplinger, are a blight upon the church, to be sure. Many simple believers have been troubled by their wild-eyed fanaticism. But when they will not even allow you to BUY their books, well, that tells you a great deal about what fills their hearts."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Event Viewer Warning: Reading/Writing Windows.edb took an abnormally long time

Windows (1608) Windows: A request to read from the file "C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Search\Data\Applications\Windows\Windows.edb" at offset 56401920 (0x00000000035ca000) for 16384 (0x00004000) bytes succeeded, but took an abnormally long time (13930 seconds) to be serviced by the OS. In addition, 0 other I/O requests to this file have also taken an abnormally long time to be serviced since the last message regarding this problem was posted 30928 seconds ago. This problem is likely due to faulty hardware. Please contact your hardware vendor for further assistance diagnosing the problem.

This error is not your hard drive; it is the windows indexer service attempting to read or write information as your computer goes to sleep and not completing that read or write until it wakes up. See this article for more info.

Take This Job and...

I knew I would get to this point. Maybe it's just a phase. I don't want to work.
I mean, I want to work, but not here, not doing what I'm doing. I'm content to let others take the calls and jump on the work.
I have been looking for another job for at least a year now, and haven't found one. My job search was mainly motivated out of a desire for more $$$; my current employer is pretty weak on the compensation, although it gets my family by.
But now, I have reached a point unforeseen, although I should have seen it coming. There have been a number of issues that I have with my current employer that have finally accrued to the point I am at now:
1. Poor compensation.
2. They never do performance reviews or raises. Never. But they showed no reluctance to implement a company-wide 10% reduction in pay due to the economy.
3. Medical insurance is through the roof expensive ($230 bi-weekly for Aetna Value Select HMO for myself and my wife)
4. The company runs a really tight ship fiscally, which is normally a good thing, except:
   a. We don't have enough developers, so our software lacks the robustness to successfully install and run the first time for many people. We also can't keep a lot of our courses updated because we are too busy making our top selling courses work better.
   b. We don't have enough QA staff even if development could write all that software at once.
   c. As part of the technical support staff, I have to support the half-baked software they release.
   d. We are moving to online-based video courses- but our only server is self-hosted in San Diego. We don't have the money to pay for a service which would colocate our video streams, which means some customers are screwed, especially internationally.
5. My department gets no input into the development of the software; if we are lucky, we get a secondhand QA role.

A big part of the problem is that this is a small company (about 50 employees). Before working here, I had decided I would not work for a publicly-traded company. Now I have to add to that that I will not work for a company of less than 100 employees again.
I and my coworkers have brought all these things up to management; it usually ends up being we don't have the $$$. Or they just don't do that. (?)

The reason I won't work for a publicly-traded corporation is because the demands of the shareholders force the company to think short-term. Now I know that really small companies are afflicted with the same malady, but for a different reason- they have to watch every dollar. I am not against being frugal, but you have to open your wallet sometimes and spend your money to improve your operations. Companies that stay small over the long term aren't making investments necessary to truly succeed. I am not saying you have to become big, but at least shoot for mid-size- get to a place where you have enough of a buffer not only to continue operations but also do more, to get you away from having to think short-term all the time.

Our company started as a simple video training outfit, selling VHS tapes and eventually, DVDs. Then they moved into making training software. Big difference! Software development is an entirely different beast than video production, and much higher cost. I don't think the company understood this, and they have paid the price ever since, trying to do software development without being willing to pay the price for top talent. And then overworking the talent they do have. When I first started working here, I thought the guy who writes our installers was incompetant. Now I know better- he is overworked so much that he merely seems incompetant. He has to handle installers, our contract courses, QA bug/fix cycles, escalations, and more. He is out sick quite a bit (I wonder why?). He deserves better.

Of course now, in June of 2009, nobody has any money. It will likely be another 3-4 years before my company can emerge out of batten-down-the-hatches mode. But I do hope they take that opportunity to really create a world-class operation.

So I guess I am de-motivated. Maybe next week I'll snap out of it. Or the week after that.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fathers Day 2009

My wife made his video for me for my first Father's Day yesterday. I had to post it here... I guess I am just a proud daddy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Another Tech Support Tip

I had someone today who was upset that our software doesn't work on his system, even though it -technically- meets the listed system requirements.
If your computer will not run our software due to an incompatibility that was undisclosed in the listed system requirements, that does not oblige us to pay for upgrades or a new computer.
Your exclusive remedy is a refund IF you are entitled to one under our return policy.

Please do not be like some of my customers and wait multiple months to try out the product you purchased. Usually after 30 days our hands are tied and there is little that can be done for you- even if something is missing from the packaging and it's our fault!