For those not familiar with what I'm talking about, suffice it to say "the emerging church" or "the emergent church" or whatever you want to call it is a loose movement (calling itself a "conversation") wherein people are trying to figure out what it means to be Christian in today's world. By and large this is characterized by sympathy to a postmodern mindset wherein we are suspicious of claims to know "The Truth" or claims to have authority, etc. If you do a Google Search on the emerging church you'll find people who revile it as the latest gnostic heresy and others who consider it the saving grace of Christianity. It's difficult to try to pin down and you can't really understand it by reading a paragraph or even one book. I would like to think that I have read widely enough of blogs and books, listened to enough speakers and sermons, and whatever else to consider myself familiar and even to an extent understanding and resonating with much of what is called the emerging church. I certainly fit the profile of your typical person interested in this sort of thing. I'm a mid-20's Christian with facial hair, working with youth, in some way between a modern and postmodern mindset, trying to follow Christ in the midst of culture while being ashamed of/disgusted with/befuddled by much of contemporary American Christianity. I was more or less raised in the church but went through some severe doubting and questioning, and don't want to uncritically accept everything thrown my way "in the name of Jesus."
As I have read and kept track and watched the development of the emerging church thing I have become less enamored with the direction I see much of it taking. I appreciate a lot of it but I am growing wary of some of the things I hear/read. Also, I'm interested in discussing ideas and epistemology and all that, but I do feel at a certain point too much discussion reaches at best silliness or at worst pretentiousness. We people can become so interested in how profound our thoughts are that we keep talking long after we have stopped saying anything worth listening to. This may sound like an indictment of the emerging conversation but I don't meant it to be. I simply mean it as an indication of where I'm coming from. I like to talk about "deep" things in coffee shops as much as the next guy but at a certain point I can't take it anymore and I want to relate it back to actual life and living and consider the consequences of the belief. If you stay in theory too long, it becomes senseless when you return down to earth to apply the conclusions you've reached. Perhaps this makes me unqualified to interact with people who have Ph.D's in philosophy or perhaps it means that things of true depth simply fly over my head. So whatever thoughts I offer, of course feel free to disregard them as the ramblings of an uncomplicated mind who just doesn't get it.
Those things being said I want to interact a bit with what I'm reading in this book, How (Not) to Speak of God. Brian McLaren, a prominent figure in the emerging conversation, says it is "one of the most important contributions to date to the emergent church conversation." It is being heralded by many within the conversation as putting words to what they're thinking, of taking the conversation is a positive direction. With those credentials I figured I should check it out. I admit I am reading the book as a pseudo-skeptic with regard to the current direction of the emergent church conversation. My viewpoints should become apparent as I discuss various statements in the book so I won't bother to lay them out here. But I am reading this book as someone genuinely interested in many of the questions this conversation is asking, as someone dissatisfied with much of the prevailing thought regarding doctrine or theology or maybe even orthodoxy. I am not a doctrine hound, I am undecided on certain things, I am comfortable in embracing mystery when it comes to God, I am still working through what I truly believe about the Bible's inerrancy and inspiration and authority. I am not coming at this with my mind already made up.
I am reading this book to try to understand more of what the emerging church conversation is saying and where it is going. To see whether I really do disagree with where it's heading or if I've just been too fuzzy on it. As someone who was at first totally on board but is now less so. I want to apply whatever thinking I can to this book and seriously think about what it offers. I have decided to blog about it not because I think my thoughts are particularly profound, not because I think what I have to say is worth listening to, and not to root out them 'thar heretics in our ranks. I am blogging about it because I think this is a way I can actually think about what I am reading rather than simply tearing through it. I will also most likely not spend too much time refining my posts into masterpieces. This introductory post is already far too unwieldy and wordy. Nevertheless I will be comfortable with some rough edges and maybe some lack of development in my thoughts. If I wait to perfectly express what I am thinking I will never write anything down. So such as they will be, I welcome you to read my thoughts as I read through this book. This will be the first in a series of posts as I go through this book, How (Not) to Speak of God.
I thought the trouble might be with her clothes; she was wearing a new outfit so I guessed it might be irritating her skin or something. I took off her outfit and while she lay on the changing table her mood changed a bit and she even smiled and cooed a couple times. Soon she was fussing again and I put a different, proven outfit on her. This seemed to bother her less but she still stuck out that bottom lip and cried. I sat down in our rocking chair in her room and just held her up against my chest (and warm sweater) while she cried. She fussed a bit but started to calm down. After a while her crying started up again so I cradled her in my left arm and she buried her head in its crook. She calmed down and fell asleep in my arms.
I sat there, rocking back and forth, and was (as I sometimes am) struck by the fact that I am actually holding my daughter. This little baby girl is completely dependent on Janelle and I for everything, from food to security to warmth. She is part Janelle and part me. And she actually feels safe in my arms. I did my best to savor the moment. I imagined the different kinds of pain she would go through in life, from physical pain to having her heart broken to disappointment and, if she follows in her father's illustrious footsteps, even being teased at school. I hope I'm able to comfort her when she deals with those things. For now I'll do my best to enjoy having a baby, dirty diapers and all. I get the feeling the easiest part of being a dad is being the dad of a crying baby.
Right now I'm at seminary in the computer lab. I just finished taking my last final. My last two classes don't have finals per se, which is nice. In my preaching class we will be having the last few people present their last sermons (I gave mine last week). In my theology class tonight we will all be presenting our final projects and that will be it. So basically I'm done with anything intellectually demanding for seminary until February. I am very excited about this.
This past week has been insanely busy, as I've spent almost every waking hour getting my last projects and assignments done for school. Janelle has been awesome, taking care of Belle and taking care of me, making it possible for me to focus on schoolwork. Crossroads also had a big weekend with "dramatic impact," which is this thing we do periodically where the weekend services are all skits tied together rather than a sermon. I was in one of the skits so I had to make a couple practices during the week, and Saturday night/Sunday morning was full up. Then Sunday night Crossroads had its annual Christmas Banquet, which is a working night for me. It was actually a lot of fun. I think I was at least partially "happified" by the facts that (1) I'd finished my schoolwork and(2) Janelle and Belle were there and I got to walk around showing off my baby.
I am really excited for the next couple months, as I'll be able to spend more time focusing on Belle and Janelle. I will also be able to get a lot more reading done. I have a lot of books I want to read but haven't had the chance to. I'm also excited to do some more relaxing, video game playing, getting some more work done around the house, hanging out with some friends, and so on and so forth. School doesn't start up again until February and I intend on getting the most out of the time I have free from its grasp.
Belle Christmas 2006
Originally uploaded by actionjax.
This morning Janelle and I braved Babies R Us in order to take some Christmas pictures of Belle (and Anthony). I've always looked with pity at those parents struggling to get their kids to behave and smile at the right time for the photographer. Just last week I was in there buying a humidifier and I saw the long line of parents and was quite thankful to not be among them. Working the timing out was actually a challenge. With an 8 week old baby you can't exactly threaten her into smiling. Instead Janelle used her Ninja Mommy skills to time everything perfectly. We arrived in time to be only the third family there, Janelle fed Belle and got her into a smiley mood, and it all worked out. Check out this picture. It makes standing in line worth it. There are other cute photos you can check out by clicking on this photo of Belle and looking at our flickr account.
Tis the Season for cute pictures of Belle, suckas!
This past few weeks has taken a lot out of me. Today at school a professor said something to me that I normally would probably have shrugged off but it really bugged me. I borrowed a DVD from him and forgot to return it. When I apologized he said that "sorry wasn't enough" and something to the effect of "you gave me your word I didn't have to worry about getting it back." Normally something like that would probably bug me since I don't like disappointing people, let alone people I respect and/or look up to, but it wouldn't make me all gloomy afterwards. Today that's just what it did, and I realize it's not just because of that one thing but it's just the cumulative emotional effect of the past few weeks. Maybe even of the past eight weeks since Belle was born. But even the time right before Belle was born I remember looking forward to her birth so I could take a step back from everything else in my life and recharge. So who knows. All I know is right now I am pretty depleted and quite looking forward to the end of the semester.
I have also been reminded in this season that when it comes to spending time in solitude and prayer, spending time with God, it's not the sort of thing that you do in order to please God. Sometimes I get the idea in my head that I "should" read my bible and pray because that's the right thing to do. In reality I should do it because I need to do it. As time goes by I have a tendency to slide farther away from a vital connection with Christ and God just becomes the idea I center my life around rather than the driving force of my life and my loving Father. And that's the whole thing with God - He's not an idea or a cosmic impersonal force. I often trade in the fact that I study and talk about God with much of my time for the actual heart and soul connection. And that leads me to a place where when I'm beaten down a bit by life I'm throwing pity parties for myself instead of drawing on the strength God gives me every day.
Also, the 49ers blew a 4 point lead in the last two minutes today. They should've beaten the Rams and be 6-5. Many people will criticize Mike Nolan for his decision to kick a field goal instead of go for it on 4th and 1 toward the end of the game. I think he made a fine decision. Gore was out, Robinson had just been stuffed on 3 and 1. All day the 49ers D had been playing pretty well. Giving your defense a 1 TD lead to hold onto with 2 minutes left is totally reasonable. I think you put way more pressure on your D if you make it so they can't even give up a FG. So Mike Nolan, I think you made the right call. The next right call you need to make is cutting Hudson, who incurred a delay of game penalty by laying on top of Steven Jackson like a sack of mentally deficient potatoes. That just may have cost us the game because the Rams were out of timeouts and the wouldn't have had time to organize the winning TD pass to Curtis.
I remain happy about the direction the 49ers are going and hope to see continued development. The big problem is you never know with injuries and free agency how many people you can actually count on to be part of the team. So I hope the Yorks are able to do something they've been up to this point unable to do and not screw up a good thing with the 49ers. They need to keep Nolan, keep the coaches, and keep this core of players. I'm okay with losing Kwame Harris to free agency though.
Upon returning home Janelle had taken the medicine and ate a persimmon and a little bit of Malt-o-Meal. Her pain returned and steadily increased, seemingly undaunted by the presence of so many drugs in Janelle's system. She is once again curled up on the bed in pain, sleepy from the meds. There is really no end in sight to this. Blech.
Since she got home with a couple more prescriptions Janelle has been laying in bed in pain, even with Vicodin in her. I 'm pretty sure she's been asleep most of the time which is better than her writhing in pain. There's not much we can do at this point but wait, as we've done what we can to get them to take her seriously. Supposedly the doctor at this latest ER visit was more sympathetic than any previous doctor and seemed interested in getting to the bottom of this, so I hope he's involved in the continuing unfolding of whatever it is that's happening to Janelle.
On the bright side Belle has been an angel and my Mom has been helping me watch and take care of her. Thank you to you guys offering help/support/etc. I'm not really sure what could be done at this point unless you have miraculous Word of Knowledge or voodoo that will take the pain away and fix what's wrong with Janelle. My Mom being here is helping a lot with the little things I might ask you for. But rest assured if I think of something or something comes up I'll let you know. It means a lot to know we have friends willing to help and stuff.
So lucky for Belle, and lucky for me, Janelle is back at home and it looks like she's going to be fine. It might act up again and if it does she's supposed to go back because it might be a gallstone. She also had some count in her blood that was way higher than it's supposed to be so she needs to return in 10 days to have her blood checked again. If it's still high she may have some sort of parasitic infection. But I suppose that can wait.
Now I must restore my stomach to health so I can eat proper food to strengthen up for the flag football game and subsequent feasting on Thanksgiving.
Upon returning from the doctor's in the afternoon I holed up on the couch, having developed a fever. Sometime later that evening the fever broke and I was left with just the nasty feeling in my stomach and no appetite. I've downed numerous gatorades and eaten countless flavorless breadsticks and bowls of applesauce since then. All Friday and Friday night Janelle took care of Belle solo because I was feeling so ill. Usually she does most of the work anyway but she did it all during this time. Keep in mind during this time Janelle is having some stomach pain and not feeling great herself. Saturday night and Sunday (today) morning I was committed to singing at Crossroads so I was gone. I'm still unable (or afraid) to eat regular food and Janelle is feeling progressively worse.
This afternoon when I got home Janelle had some pretty severe stomach pain. After a while it became obvious she was having some real trouble and I encouraged her to go to the ER. By 5pm she agreed and her sisters came to take her there. Janelle just called and they think they found a gallstone and they're having her drink some solution to test if she has pancreatitis, which is some sort of pancreas infection that may be caused by gallstones. She's hooked up to an IV and morphine and all that. At the earliest they'll do the test on her in a couple hours. She may need some sort of surgery that will require a 1 week or so recovery time.
I just got Belle to go down to sleep and she was fussier than she's been in a long time. I think she's missing Janelle. Janelle has been really good with getting Belle on a schedule of sorts and Belle's been great the last few days. I hope I'm able to take care of Belle and not screw that up. And I hope Belle sleeps well tonight, I hope Janelle's okay and gets well quickly, and I hope my stomach issue clears up soon. Most of all I feel sort of clueless trying to take care of Belle. Janelle has taken the lead with it and I feel she has a much better clue on how to do it.
I'm also not sure how in the world I'm going to get stuff done that I need to get done this next week, especially if Janelle has a surgery or something. It's the end of the school semester and I'm supposed to preach after Thanksgiving...we'll see I suppose. It's just a lot of stuff all at once. This isn't a great time for all this stuff to go down successively. Not that it ever is, of course.
At least the 49ers won today. Mike Nolan looked awesome in a suit, even if it was Reebok issued.
As I crept forward I noticed something in the road, it looked like someone laying down. Upon further inspection it looked like a mangled body with its entrails spilling out. My heart sort of jumped. Once I realized what I was looking at I looked away. It was pretty strange looking. When I got home I didn't see anything on the news about it and didn't find anything on the web about it. Just now I did a search and found out that what I saw was indeed a man's body with his guts spilling out. It was an older guy on a motorcycle who had swerved to avoid a dead dog's body. He flew off his motorcycle and was subsequently run over by a truck. And to think I was upset about having to sit in traffic.
Go vote today!
This Tuesday is Election Day, so in order to encourage you to vote, even if only to cancel out my votes, I'll let you know how I'm voting on some of the stuff. For some I will provide more reasoning than for others. Politically I'd say I'm probably fairly conservative, especially fiscally, but I prefer my thinking and my votes to inform your opinion on y political leanings rather than any words like "conservative" or "liberal" or "moronic."
I largely consider all Props to be, unless I somehow learn otherwise, plays by certain groups for power or money with little regard to the bigger picture. So unless I see a compelling reason to vote "Yes" on a Proposition my default position is no. With candidates I'm largely ignoring the candidates outside the established two because I'd rather have my vote count for something other than a protest. I think the only time I'd seriously consider going third-party with my vote is if (1) I really believe in what they say or (2) I really hate the other options and think my vote would contribute to some point being made. If there's a serious third candidate for President in 2008 I may vote for them.
I would consider myself semi-informed. My information is coming from the California Voter Guide and any commercials I've seen (none of which I take seriously)...other than that I'm just following what I think and I may be missing some large pieces of information but I'm going with what I have.
Governor - Voting for Arnold (R)
I watched a debate between Arnold and Phil Angelides and was duly unimpressed by Angelides. I am not the biggest Arnold fan but I am less excited about Angelides plan to rebuild California by redistributing income. Granted, I'm not in the tax bracket he'd be raising taxes on but I am generally of the opinion that the government does not need more of our money but rather it needs to manage the money it already has more efficiently. This view on government/money plays a large role in my voting decisions on every level.
Lt. Governor - Voting for Tom McClintock (R)
Garamendi says that Al Gore and Dianne Feinstein share his vision. That's enough for me. Also according to Garmendi Tom McClintock wants to "dismantle our public schools." I'm curious to see how he'd do that so I want to give him the chance.
Controller - Voting for Tony Strickland (R)
Strickland says he believes what I do - that the government has enough money and needs to manage it better. Chiang, his Democratic opponent, says he wants to "fight for full funding for quality schools." To me that translates "we need more money." No you don't.
Secretary of State - Bruce McPherson (R)
He's supported by the California Teacher's Association, which is pretty liberal. He's also the incumbent and it doesn't seem like he's screwed everything up.
Insurance Commissioner - Steve Poizner (R)
If you Cruz, you lose. Seriously - Cruz Bustamante actually has a commercial saying "I was fat! But I promised I'd lose weight and I did. I keep my promises."
Prop 1A (Limits on how gov't can spend gas tax money) - Yes
If you take my money and say you're going to use it on roads, use it on roads.
Prop 1B - 1D (Sell bonds for various things) - No
That's an awful lot of bond money. Over $32 billion in interest? Too much cost, find another way to do it.
Prop 1E (Bonds to fix levees) - Yes
We need to fix the levees. It does suck that we're going to pay 3.9 billion in interest but I think the costs will be greater if we have some more flooding and aren't ready for it.
Prop 83 (Jessica's Law) - Yes
I am somewhat persuaded by the argument that this law hasn't been helpful in the places it's been passed. I'd want our law enforcement agencies to not be tied down with unimportant stuff, and I'd like to not waste money. But in my opinion anything that makes life harder on sex offenders, whether violent or not, is probably worth voting for. So I vote yes but I'm not totally excited about it.
Prop 84 (Money for Drinking Water etc) - No
Ten Billion dollars? No thanks. Also I hate children and don't want them to have clean drinking water.
Prop 85 (Parental Notification for Abortion) - Yes
Yes I do think the doctor should have to tell me if my teenage daughter wants to get an abortion. I realize some kids have terrible parents and whatnot, but the idea that a 13 year-old could get an abortion without her parents knowing about it is ridiculous. And if a parent is bad enough the child can try to get an exception so they don't have to tell their parents if Prop 85 passes. Yes it sucks but I think it sucks more to not allow parents to know what's going on with their kids.
Prop 86 (Cigarette Tax) - No
People sure are greedy.
Prop 87 (Oil Tax for Alternative Fuel) - No
Take more of my money and give it to some governmental agency tasked with pursuing alternative fuels? What happens if they don't do a good job? What happens if they inefficiently handle my money? Will they repeal the tax later? Riiiight... I'd rather let the private sector take care of this.
Prop 88 (Parcel Tax for Education) - No
Take more of my money to fund some education programs? Use the money you already have more efficiently. Stop trying to raise taxes, people!
Prop 89 (Changes money-gathering for elections) - No
It looks shady to me. I'd rather not vote something like this into law. Why is the Nurses' Association the primary backer of this thing? I'd rather not have a special interest group defining rules of campaign contribution.
Prop 90 (Constitutional Amendment to Eminent Domain Stuff) - No
Looks like some butt-hurt people trying a short-sighted fix to a problem.
Wow, that was a lot of stuff. If you think I've got it all wrong, make sure you head out to vote and cancel out my contribution to the democratic process!
I'm not entirely sure what the facts of the matter are. Jones (the male prostitute in question) failed a polygraph test about the alleged sexual nature of their relationship. Today, however, Haggard's church fired him, citing "sexually immoral conduct." As far as I know Haggard has publicly admitted to purchasing meth from Jones but says he didn't use it. Haggard also admitted contacting Jones in order to get a massage. The whole thing is pretty shady.
I have to wonder what Haggard is thinking. Politically I am not quite a member of the so-called Religious Right and was only vaguely aware of who Haggard was before this. This almost seems fake. I mean, one of the most influential anti-gay-marriage political figures is patronizing male prostitutes for gay sex and crystal meth? It's so bizarre. I think the biggest victims here are Haggard's family, who have to be absolutely devastated. Of course there is collateral damage to things like the message of Christianity, the integrity of Christian leaders, Haggard's disillusioned followers, and so on.
I don't suppose I have any original thoughts on this. It sucks for Haggard and his family. It's also pretty weaksauce that someone would work so hard to keep gay marriage illegal while at the same time carrying on this kind of relationship with a guy (if the allegations are true). I'm personally of the opinion that gay people should have the same legal rights as others. I do think that marriage is something between a man and a woman but that others should be allowed the same legal status and perks and all that.
But anyway, this Haggard thing is a reminder that if you let some little secret thing linger it can grow into a monster that destroys your life, and you'll have nobody to blame but yourself.
I do not enjoy, however, how competitive the games often become. I find myself becoming pretty immature in-game, and my friends doing so as well. It's funny, we can be best of buds off the field but when we're playing we become competitive and are pretty short and sometimes quite rude to one another. When someone does well and they're not on my team I am mad about it instead of happy for them. I mean, in any other situation I'd be trying to encourage them or say "wow good job" but on the football field I'm thinking "they're not so great" or whatever. I think that's something I need to work on, because too often I find myself saying something and thinking "wow that wasn't how you want to be, Jackson." An area to grow in, I suppose.
If you want to bookmark the site you can head over to
and do so.
I also have a list setup to where you can get automatically e-mailed with the blog updates if you 'd like that so you don't have to keep checking back. If you want to do that, then e-mail me or something and then I'll send you an invite to the e-mail list. Then you'll get whatever I post on the blog in your e-mail and you won't have to bother checking the site, etc.
Peace out homeskillets, &c.
Next year will be ours!
Yes maybe I care about sports a little too much.
But come on, seriously. Last night they set a record for GIDP in an ALCS game, and tonight the starting pitcher once again gives up 5+ followed by an anemic offensive night (Milton Bradley excepted). Then they go and get everyone's hopes up in the 9th before the Big Hurt pops out. They showed a stat during the game tonight - the road team has won the first two games of the ALCS eight times, and every single time that team advanced to the World Series. I hope the A's can make it one of nine times but something in me strongly doubts that.
Belle with Grammy
Originally uploaded by actionjax.
We actually got her to sleep in her bassinet a little bit. We were totally freaked out about leaving her to sleep and then having something happen to her. We want to keep our eye on her 24/7...but she did go down to sleep a bit and Janelle and I both got to sleep a little. I think I slept a little more soundly than Janelle.
You can click on the picture to check out a link of some more pics of Belle. I have some awesome ones on my Treo but I'm having a hard time figuring out how to get to them. Enjoy, and embrace the cuteness.
Janelle went into labor Tuesday night, she was induced around 10:30ish, and Belle Elizabeth Alana Perdue was born at 3:20am on Weds October 4th. Janelle did awesome and assured her place atop the throne of "toughest one in this marriage" with the labor. She's amazing. Belle appears to be totally healthy, not to mention ridiculously adorable. We have a followup appt on Saturday where they will check her a bit for jaundice, they said she looks a bit jaundiced but that's pretty common so we're not too worried about it. Other than that she's healthy and doing well.
It was been an incredibly exhausting couple of days. Janelle is getting the hang of feeding Belle, Belle is getting the hang of eating, and we are trying to find time to sleep inbetween everything. Janelle has probably had less than five hours of sleep since Belle was born. I've had a bit more but am still running on fumes myself, I don't know how Janelle keeps going.
Apart from the occasional family member coming by we're not really ready for any visitors yet. We are completely wiped out and Belle isn't on any sort of schedule yet. We're hoping that all that gets worked out soon...and we hope to show her off real soon to everyone in person. We're just not ready for that quite yet. Once we're ready to have visitors and all that we'll send out another e-mail letting you know about it. Until then we appreciate your prayers (it's a little overwhelming how much there is to be done and how there are no breaks...Belle is a relentless eating/pooping/crying/attention-needing machine).
Thanks for all your love and well-wishes and all that good stuff...we hope to send along a picture when we get the chance.
Jackson and Janelle (and Belle)
This morning I took a test for my Old Testament Intro class, and it was mostly good. The first few parts of the test were matching stuff that we've learned. Tests where you can match the definitions with the terms are high on my list of tests that I enjoy because they're typically pretty easy, and you can use the process of elimination to help you out. There was an essay portion to the test, which ended up taking a fair amount of time and I used every bit of space available to answer it. The question was something along the lines of: "Take into account the issues of inspiration, revelation, inerrancy, and authority as they relate to the Old Testament and scripture. Discuss how any claims to the authority of the OT are legitimate in view of the things we have discussed in class." Something like that - it was a pretty open-seeming question and fairly difficult to go about answering.
In that class up to this point we've discussed very little actual content of the OT but we have discussed the various views on inerrancy (the idea that the bible is free from error), inspiration (the idea that the bible is inspired by God), infallibility (the idea that the bible accomplishes what it is meant to accomplish without error), etc. I won't get into all of it here, but basically there were a number of differing views with regard to teach of these topics.
For example, on the question of inspiration there was a range of approaches. The "Illumination View" holds that the bible contains the noble thoughts of great people of faith, and is on par with any other piece of literature. The Dynamic view of inspiration says that God inspired the authors of the bible but there is some non-inspired stuff in there that you need to sort out. Mechanical Dictation states that humans were little more than stenographers, writing down exactly the words God wanted them to and serving only as hands and pens for God, who essentially did the writing himself. Then there's the Plenary Verbal view of inspiration which states that everything in the bible is as God intended it - that he inspired the authors and he kept his "hand" on the whole development of the scriptures. I am of the opinion that this last view best interacts with the available evidence, at least if you're going to believe that some sort of God exists and does stuff to reveal himself to humanity.
My basic idea was that if a god exists and he (I use that out of convention) does not want to reveal himself to humanity, then we can't know about him. We may have some sense that there is a god or gods if we look at the world around us, but we can't know much of anything about said god(s). Is he/are they calm and serene like a placid lake, or violent and angry like whitewater? Nature itself does very little to inform us of the nature of god, if in fact there is a god. As many believe it could just be a testament to natural processes.
But if a god did exist and chose to reveal himself to humanity it would make sense that, unless he were some sort of capricious and fickle god interested only in tormenting humanity and not in actually disclosing himself, he would reveal himself in a consistent manner. That is, god would not tell someone in China he was one way, and then tell someone in Israel he was another way, and then tell someone in South America he was something else. One might say God was disclosing various parts of his nature to humanity, but so much of what the various holy books and religions say about the supernatural and how the universe came to be is incompatible. One could also say that perhaps god is playing a joke on everyone and telling everyone these differing stories to see what we do - but if that's the case we have no way of knowing and can only go by what we see. There's no good reason to make such an assertion. You can't prove we're not all brains in jars, either.
So as I was saying, if God did reveal himself to humanity in a specific way it would make sense that he'd reveal himself in a consistent and meaningful way. If we were intended to get anything out of his revelation it probably would not line up with the idea of the Illumination View or the Dynamic View as listed above. Such views on inspiration relegate revelation to something rather arbitrary. "Good thoughts" about faith and life are not in need of inspiration and revelation to exist. And a view where we have to sift through revelation and strip away the "uninspired" portions to get to the "inspired" portions seems a rather untoward way for a deity to reveal himself to humanity. It also makes it rather difficult to say which is inspired and which is not, especially if you're making judgment calls based on nothing other than your own thoughts about the text in question. If the bible is where you learn about God and the bible is partly inspired and partly uninspired then how can you determine which is which? So it is my contention that if the bible is inspired, then it must be wholly inspired - if God can inspire part of the scripture to say something when one person is writing it down, he can make sure that the bible as it went through its processes of editing and compilation says what he wanted it to say.
A view like the Mechanical Dictation view which says God just wrote it down through people doesn't really stand up well when you look at the bible and see pretty clear evidence of later editing, inexact quotations, round numbers, and apparent contradictions. As much as Christians would like to believe that the bible is completely free from any sort of blemish, it simply isn't so. Holding to a view that says "God wrote it down exactly like this" when it is demonstrably questionable at some certain points (not even taking into account translation) makes one appear rather foolish. And in reality if you hold to a view like that you either (1) don't believe it yourself and are fooling yourself or (2) are putting your head in the sand. If humans were simply God's writing instruments, couldn't he have done a better job? I'd like to think so.
The concept of inerrancy - that the bible is free from error - is quite apart from the concept of inspiration. If the bible is inspired - that is, if God inspired the bible to say what it is he wants it to say, and there is some human interaction but the words are what He wants to communicate to humanity - then one might again assume a certain degree of inerrancy. That is, there should not be errors in something God communicates to humankind if he is deserving of the name God. Unless he is playing tricks on people, which is something I mentioned earlier. There are also a number of views on inerrancy. Pietistic Inerrancy is the most common one among Christians these days, which is the idea that everything the bible says is true, with no critical thought applied. This is also the view of inerrancy most ridiculed and rejected by critics of Christianity. This view's primary problem is that it looks more at the what a particular verse says than what the same verse means. There is no regard to authorial intent.
For example, someone holding to the idea of pietistic inerrancy might look at Genesis and see a story about God creating the world in six days. They may then look at the scientific evidence we have to date and see that it appears that things didn't unfold that way. You might add up the numbers and years in the OT and come up with something saying that the earth is 6000ish years old, but the universe appears to be a whole lot older than that. But if you consider whether the author actually meant "24 hour day" or was being poetic then you might come up with a different conclusion. Or you may read the story of a flood that flooded the "world" and assume the bible is hogwash because there's no evidence of such an event. But when you consider that to the people of that time, "the world" was basically Mesopotamia...you may reach a different conclusion regarding the veracity of the passage. So it's important to consider more than just the face value of a passage when you're considering the inerrancy of scripture.
Also of note, the doctrine of inerrancy properly describes the original autographs of scripture rather than the bible you or I can pick up from the store. Properly understood inerrancy allows for things like copyist errors, round numbers, and so forth. It is unfortunate that most Christians are led to believe that the bible is a document akin to Joseph Smith's golden plates, which supposedly descended from heaven with the words of God written on them. The bible is clearly a document with human influence, from evidence of editing and compilation to some apparent inconsistencies. But there are also some qualities to it that suggest divine inspiration, and if the bible is inspired in any meaningful way then God must have preserved his message through it all. Perhaps it is because of these very human elements that we can trust the bible - not because it is the fanciful story of God teleporting his magic words into the hands of people, but because for some reason he chose to use human beings to transmit his word and despite that we still have a consistent record and teaching. Despite human interference we have a collection of scripture that has remained astoundingly consistent, with none of the copying errors affecting any major teaching.
This is not likely to convince anyone that is unconvinced, and in reality I'm writing this more for myself than anyone else and not trying to convince anybody. As I continue to work through the idea of what I mean when I say "I trust the bible" a lot of things go through my mind. It isn't this fairy tale book free from blemish. There is evidence of editing. There are numerical differences. It does raise some difficult questions with regard to many things. But I think looking at inspiration and inerrancy that the bible is either the inspired, authoritative word of God and must be recognized as such, or it is the collected and mangled writings of a nomadic group of people and some misguided Greeks that should be relegated to the heap with the rest of humanity's unfruitful graspings for a greater meaning that doesn't exist. From my perspective it more resembles the former than the latter, but your mileage may vary.
All I know is that it's important for everyone, whether they're a devout Christian or staunch Atheist, to honestly put the thought and effort into working through some of this stuff. Dismissing the bible because it says or teaches something it doesn't is as foolish as trusting blindly in it and believing Satan put fossils here to test our faith. I'm not saying any rational person will believe the bible is inspired and inerrant, but I'm saying there's more to it than most of us ever consider and we do ourselves a disservice by ignoring these things, wherever we stand on the spectrum of faith and belief.
I doubt you read that whole thing - but these are just some of the thoughts running through my head right now. I don't know if that makes sense or not but it does in my head. Kinda. It's a lot of stuff to sift through. Once Belle gets here you will be subjected to pictures of a cute baby and probably my whining and complaining about not much sleep and how stinky diapers are.
Also - Go A's! They face the Twins in the first round. Not a very favorable matchup, but I suppose they never are in the postseason. This team is different than the four-year-consecutive-chokers of the past, so we'll see what happens.
Speaking of the A's, I am proud of them for clinching and am much more optimistic this year regarding their postseason fate. I think they may actually make it past the first round of the playoffs. Of course this optimism is against my better judgment and my general policy of not getting my hopes up, but I can't quite help it. At least this year I'll have a baby to distract me from any chokage, whereas if the A's wind up winning it all I will have a baby to make it all the sweeter. And it will also mean she is responsible for them winning - a standard I will hold her to for the rest of her life, and any further A's failures will rest squarely on her shoulders. It's the only right thing to do.
Also, various signs seem to indicate Janelle will be entering labor soon. Of course you never know but it looks like she may not make it all the way to her due date of the 28th. The fact that at any moment she could begin labor and a baby pop out is very frightening. Each day could be my last without a child to take care of. It's kinda weird. But also exciting.
If you haven't heard of Battlestar Galactica, you should really check it out. It's a series on the Sci-Fi channel and on October 6th the 3rd season premieres. I suggest you check out the DVDs in order because it's one of those shows that actually has a continuing storyline. If you see what's going on in a later episode it'll spoil the awesomeness of the earlier ones for you.
If you are a Battlestar fan, then make sure you are checking the website every Tuesday and Thursday until the season premiere. They're showing "webisodes" of a few minutes each, which will lead into the premiere. I get the feeling that Tigh is going to become a lot more hardcore this season. Like Jack Bristow. In the previews for season 3 people keep saying "you don't do some things Colonel Tigh, even in war." You do if you wanna beat the toasters, you cylon-sympathizers!
So this morning:
Water: Filtered, 4.5 cups
Beans: Medium/fine grind, 13ish flat tablespoons
The coffee tastes way better than usual (I actually measured according to the instructions on the bag of beans). I used a little bit of the Coconut Creme Creamer from Coffeemate and it's pretty good. The coffee isn't blonde, it's more brown than tan. Still room for improvement but it's much better than it has been lately. Wow, reading the instructions really can work.
Today the A's fell behind 8-0 after two innings. They then proceeded to mount what became a tie for the largest comeback in A's history, eventually winning the game 12-10. So on Baseball Tonight (BBTN), ESPN's 40 minute show devoted to extended highlights and analysis of MLB action we might expect more than 30 seconds on the game. Instead BBTN leads with Yankees-Red Sox, including numerous interviews and some analysis. They then breeze through a few other games, eventually reaching the A's game. They start the highlights after the score is 8-2, and show maybe four pitches. They show an altercation between a Blue Jays' pitcher and manager, and then move on. And right now, during the next segment, I am watching the same interviews with Sox and Yankees players I saw at the beginning of the show, and they are talking even more about "Boston Massacre II," replete with dramatic music and gravitas-laden narration. As a white anglo-saxon Protestant male, this may be as close as I ever come to feeling disenfranchised. It sucks. Viva la revolution!
I've seen this cereal on the shelves for years but never had occasion to pick it up. It's never on sale and is in the high $3.00's or $4.00's for a relatively small box. Usually I go with a known quantity at a cheaper price, like Honey Nut Cheerios or Wheaties. I'm also pretty fond of Corn Chex. But yesterday on my trip to the store I followed the call of my heart and picked up a box of the Crunchy Corn Bran stuff. I'm glad I did because it's totally awesome. It's pretty hearty and has a slightly sweet taste. The pieces are just the right kind of crispy and it takes them a little while to get soggy, so you can enjoy your breakfast at your own pace. Yes, Crunchy Corn Bran is quite a shining example of what cereal should be.
Aaaaand we're at a new low. Welcome to my blog.
Because of the above I watched the first-team offense with great anticipation tonight. I am happy to say I was pleased by their performance against last year's number one defense in the Chicago Bears. Smith didn't look like a lost little boy on the field. He played like he knew what he was doing. By and large his throws were crisp and on target. He displayed some good scrambling and bootlegging skills, as well as an ability to throw very accurately on the run. That's what you need in a QB. He even threw the ball away on purpose a couple times instead of throwing interceptions. It's not time for any sort of coronation and this is just one game, a preseason game no less, but I am encouraged by what I saw. Let's hope that feeling lasts for the entire season as we watch Alex Smith and the 49ers offense grow into something worthy of respect.
Also, it looks like the Refs have new uniforms. I can't say for sure but they look new. And dumb.
The two were married for 46 years. I can't even fathom what sort of connection you would forge with someone over such a long period of time. For as long as I've known him her husband Paul has taken care of her, carting her around to doctor's appointments, being her primary caregiver at home, etc. To all of a sudden have that person that's been with you for the majority of your life be gone would be unimaginably tough. I haven't even known Janelle for three years, and thinking about her dying is horrible to say the least. So my heart goes out to Paul, and I hope he's able to cope with the loss well. He probably won't know what to do with himself anymore. I'm not sure what I as a 25 year-old newly married about-to-be-a-father can do to help him through it but I hope I can find something.
I was talking with Janelle about it over dinner last night and she said "I hope I die before you." Aren't we romantic?
I will leave you with this video:
Anyway I highly suggest you pay this place a visit, I don't think you'll be disappointed. It's a good break from the usual, and if it closes I will be very disappointed so be sure to go patronize them.
With everything I have doing on I sometimes feel guilty for relaxing, or when I'm having time off I'm always thinking about what I'm not doing or what I'm forgetting or what I should be spending my time working on. It's difficult for me to completely relax and be okay with it. So getting something like this in place is proving to be quite helpful. One of my favorite things about the system is the idea of a contextual to-do list. Instead of having a to-do list where I have somewhat pointless categories like "Youth Ministry" or "Husband" or whatever to track the things I have to do, I have a to-do list based on where I am. I have a list for "@Computer," "@Phone," "@Office," and so on. I have my other projects and whatnot better organized, so everything on my to-do list is a specific physical next action for each thing on my various plates. This way I'm not constantly worrying about what I'm not doing or missing.
Anyway, if you're somebody with a lot of different responsibilities or things to do and get stressed out or have a hard time relaxing I really suggest you take a look at this book. Even if you're not a Palm-carrying busybody I bet it could help you become more productive and feel more on top of things in your life. Of course nobody will want to implement everything in the book exactly how it is, but in reading through it you should get a lot of good principles and ideas to help you deal with what life throws at you. I dig it and am enjoying implementing it. Maybe you will too.
Man I hate the Angels.
I have heard some discussion of his actions, and some have referred to him as a hypocrite for doing this, considering his hyper-conservative and old-school Catholic views that presumably outlaw such things as driving drunk. It begs the question, what makes someone a hypocrite? If you have and advocate a moral code but do something that violates said moral code, does that make you a hypocrite?
A couple definitions I've found list a hypocrite as someone who advocates a view/position they do not in fact hold, or someone who puts on a mask to pretend to be someone or something he is not. I've heard the word itself comes from classic Greek plays, wherein actors were called "hypocrites" because they put on masks to become someone else. Of course a word only has the meaning we ascribe to it, but does doing something that violates your moral code make you a hypocrite?
I personally think that if someone pretends to hold a moral code, or simply says "this is wrong" or "that is wrong" with no intention that such proclamations apply to themselves, then they are a hypocrite. Hypocrite carries a lot of baggage with it - we don't like them because they are fake, they pretend to be something they aren't, they don't practice what they preach. But does that mean in order to not be a hypocrite you have to be perfect? Everybody I know that holds to some form of right and wrong has at one time or another failed to live up to their own moral code. I don't believe I know anybody who believes in such a thing as right or wrong who would claim to have never made a mistake. Does that mean everybody in the world is a hypocrite?
In one regard, I'd say yes. All of us have certain chinks in our moral armor, so to speak. Not only do we all screw up and do things wrong, but there are times when we rationalize our actions in an attempt to find a way around them being wrong. I believe that makes someone a hypocrite. Doing something wrong makes you human, not a hypocrite. If once you've made the error and either noticed it (we all have blind spots) or had it pointed out to you, you try to explain away your behavior as appropriate or find an exception you fit into, then you are being hypocritical. And all of us do this from time to time. We all have times where we are hypocritical and try to make an exception for ourselves when it comes to whatever moral code we adhere to. It would behoove us, if we do not want to be known as hypocrites, to avoid this sort of thing. I say this as someone who specializes in rationalization. Many times I have tried to find a way to make myself look more righteous than I actually am, or convince myself that I haven't actually done something wrong because of this or that mitigating factor. My guess is this is something common to many people. But I think it takes more than that occasionally happening for someone to be branded a hypocrite.
If someone is living a secret life in direct opposition to their professed moral code then they can be labeled a hypocrite. They may regret their actions but the preponderance of their choices and lifestyle would add up to, in my opinion, aggregate hypocrisy. This is the pastor who publicly decries homosexuality and abortion but pays off his mistress to get an abortion so he can save face. It took a number of choices to get to that situation. As I said we all make mistakes and just because we make mistakes we shouldn't be automatically relegated to the status of hypocrite. That being said it is fair to consider someone a hypocrite that routinely does things contrary to their professed moral code. This leads to the idea of grace.
I believe people should be shown grace when they make mistakes. If they are repentant and admit their error we should be willing to forgive them. If someone lives a hypocritical life (like the pastor mentioned above) and earned the label of "hypocrite" then if they are repentant we should be willing to show them grace and not forever relegate them to "hypocrite" status in our eyes. This display of grace doesn't necessitate a revocation of consequences, however. When we make mistakes there are certain consequences, some more severe than others. It is human to make mistakes but we cannot expect to not have to pay any consequences for our mistakes simply because we are apologetic. Someone whose license has been revoked for repeated infractions cannot expect to have their license returned simply because they're sorry. Of course they're sorry, they were caught.
Sometimes it takes being caught to show us the error of our ways, or to have someone point out our own moral inconsistencies for us to see them. I for one hope to give the benefit of the doubt to others. I want to assume they are not being hypocritical when they do something wrong, and I want to be willing and able to show grace and forgiveness when they are shown to be in error. In the same way I want to be able to receive correction when others point out my own moral failures. In the past I have had mixed reactions to being shown my own moral inconsistencies. Sometimes I react defensively, sometimes graciously - but I am always embarrassed. I never want to be a hypocrite, but I fear my status as a human being condemns me to a life of never quite living up to the standards I set for myself. I am quite thankful that God is willing to stick with me throughout this process of life and even when I make horrible mistakes and even when I act like a hypocrite, if I am willing to admit my hypocrisy and move forward He will take me forward. I hope I can show the same grace to others, and that when others share my faults with me I can hear what they're saying without being put out by their reminding me of my humanity. Above all I hope that I will never be labeled a hypocrite, though I know that it is entirely possible since I am a fallible person. The worst kind of hypocrisy would be not giving others the opportunity to make mistakes, when I myself am a mistake-making machine.
This morning I was sitting at Peet's enjoying a cup of coffee and getting some work done. Seating is usually scarce at the Fremont Peet's but during the incident I am about to describe it was quite plentiful. At this particular location they have a long bench near the wall. This bench provides seating for two separate tables. I'd been sitting on this bench for about an hour with my stuff spread over the leftmost table. I sipped my coffee and worked while fidgeting with my leg. Chances are if you know me you know what I'm talking about - where you're sitting still but you keep moving one leg up and down. So I was doing that.After I've been at the table for an hour this old guy sits down on the other end of the bench at his own table, ready to read the morning paper. He's there for a few minutes and then speaks up.
"Excuse me?""Yes?" I reply, expecting that maybe he's seen what I'm working on and taken an interest.
"Could you stop moving your leg? It's shaking the bench."
"Uh, sure." I stopped moving my leg.There were plenty of other places to sit in this coffee shop, plenty of unoccupied seats and tables. But this guy decides to sit down on the bench I've been on and then proceeds to tell me to stop fidgeting. So tell me, am I wrong to think this guy was being rude? Of course I stopped fidgeting, there's nothing manly or "just" about me continuing to fidget because "it's my bench" or "I was here first," but come on. It's my bench, and I was here first! Sit somewhere else!
I think I may also be moving over there for my blogging, but time will tell with that. For now, hop over and check it out. I think anyone can sign up for it. If you need an invite to sign up let me know.
Check out my VOX site.
Anyway, Click here to see the rest of my Mexico Pics!
you dive into people
get the refs to give you a penalty kick
kick the ball downfield everytime you get it
dive some more
As best I can tell this is soccer. Lots of grown men running around, crying on the ground as often as possible and doing their best to get fouls called their way. There are some exciting moments, but I don't think I can ever really get into a sport so dependent on faking being hurt and tricking the refs into calling fouls.
There are also other teams doing quite well at the moment but for fear of jinxing them I will say nothing else.
So today was supposed to be a busy day, I'm getting my car fixed, working, attending two high school graduations and a graduation dinner. But I find myself at home with a nasty-feeling stomach and afraid to go more than a few steps away from a toilet. Bah.
First you have to pay the police certain fees because your car was towed. Then you have to pay the towing company a towing fee, which in this case was $130, plus a $55/day storage fee. So this guy's car was towed yesterday, and today to get his car back he had to pay the towing company alone $185. So I get there and my friend has cash to pay, and I am planning on paying the remainder of what he owes on my credit card. The woman, which had taken several minutes to even come help us despite the fact that we were the only "customers" there, informed us that they could only take one form of payment.
"No problem," I said. "I'll take the cash, and put it all on my card."
"Jeremiah Perdue?" she asked, looking at my card.
"You're not on the registration for the car."
"Yes I know, it's my friend's, he's right here, you have his driver's license so you know it's him."
"We can only accept payment from the registered owner."
"It's company policy. It's to avoid unauthorized payments."
"Well it's clearly authorized, he's right here and you have his ID, I'm right here and you can see mine. So why can't I just pay it?"
"We can only accept payment from the registered owner. We've had worse situations than this before."
"This isn't a bad situation. We're both standing right here and there's nothing unauthorized about this."
"Well it's company policy sir."
At that point I said fine and left to get cash for my portion of the fee. I was so aggravated. I had to go to a liquor store across the street and pay a stupid $1.69 transaction fee to retrieve the cash.
But seriously, those tow truck places are ridiculous. They charge you an initial fee to tow your truck and then $55/day for a car, more if your vehicle is bigger. They've got a bazillion different fees they charge you - and if you don't get your car right away the fees very quickly pile up. I'm all for personal responsibility and not getting your car towed - but the way this whole system works is completely jacked up. Poor people are screwed over big time by it, or people who just don't have enough cash at the moment. The whole thing seems completely unjust and just typing about it now I want to start a crusade against the unfair "business" practices of tow companies. As Michael said, I'm surprised the employees don't wear masks, because they're robbing you. What a racket.
I feel like over all this time when I read something in the Bible about the church - the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, the light of the world, the salt of the earth, this redemptive and healing community - when I read about this in Scripture it resonates with something deep inside of me. I feel like I get a glimpse of this incredibly beautiful plan for people living in unity and experiencing the best life has to offer - and it's beyond my ability to describe or put into words effectively.
The sad thing is how many times Christians have turned this glorious thing into an ugly, domineering organization. What God intended to be an incredible breaking-in of His Kingdom they turn into building their own kingdoms, trying to get power over others and make them feel inferior, etc. Nothing is more beautiful than the Body of Christ when it's working right, and nothing is more hideous than it being abusive. I only pray that I can encourage people to see the vision God has for His church, and they're able to connect in their hearts to the indescribable beauty that is God's family.
What the heck?
Read the article here
Being here and watching the kids interact is a very visible reminder of how much everybody has a strong desire to be loved and accepted. Freshmen usually aren't as good at hiding that as most people. I'm not saying that's a bad thing - it's fun to be around people who are so obviously conscious of what others think that they're almost cute. But cute isn't the right word. It's also a reminder to me to just be myself and not worry about what others think, because trying so hard to be this way or that way is such a waste of time and energy.
First, Captain Picard believes it's wrong to impose one's own cultural values onto another or even make a judgment regarding the rightness or wrongess of it. He urges the others to honor Worf's request and allow him or help him to commit suicide. Picard champions the cultural relativism that the Federation holds so dear.
Commander Riker, however, takes issue with Worf's request. Riker comes into Worf's hospital room and says he thinks the custom of ritual suicide is "despicable" and lectures Worf on the value of life. He tells Worf that doing this would be a copout, and tells Worf to ask his young son to do it, which is the Klingon custom.
Worf ends up changing his mind and opting not to kill himself. He undergoes a risky operation, and of course has his paralysis cured. It is Star Trek, after all, where nothing ever really changes.
I just thought that the interaction of cultural values was interesting in this episode. Picard's insistence upon honoring Worf's culture and beliefs seemed so weak next to Riker's passionate insistence on the value of life and his challenge to Worf to not be so eager to welcome death. So who was right in this situation? Picard for wanting to honor Worf's cultural values and beliefs, or Riker for calling Worf's culture "despicable" and convincing him to fight for his life?