Showing posts from September, 2007

How is the trinity both three and one? Early Christian Doctrines

The struggle over the comprehension of God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is well covered in J.N.D. Kelly’s book, Early Christian Doctrines.

Some viewed Him as one who manifests himself in three roles (modalism/Sabellianism/monarchianism). Some only gave the Father due worship as God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit sub-god roles (Arianism/Jehovah'sWitnesses). A couple guys named Greg and someone named after a spice, Basil, had some better ideas.
This brings us to an element in the Cappadocians’ thought which their critics often ignore, viz. their belief in the simplicity and indivisibility of the divine essence. In certain moods they seem reluctant to apply the category of number to the Godhead at all, taking up the old Aristotelian doctrine that only what is material is quantitatively divisible. How can we be accused of tritheism, exclaims Evagrius, seeing we exclude number entirely from the spiritual nature of deity? According to Gregory of Nyssa, number is indicative merely of…

Nazi genocide before WW2: blog a book: Blood and soil

My library acquired the just-released book Blood and Soil, a world history of genocide and extermination from Sparta to Darfur, by Ben Kiernan, and I was the first to check it out. I don't think I will be able to finish it then record all the quotes before it's due date. So I'm sharing some as I go along. The trauma of this book for me is reading about so many genocides I never knew about before. Kiernan is a fair author so far. The only one guilty is mankind. Sadly, victims become victimizers. It is a terrible cycle. Today's quote points out that victimizers will repeat their crimes when opportunity affords.
Genocides not only exhibit similarities, many are actually related events. Their relationships are often personal and generational. For example, we can identify the German precursors of individual Holocaust perpetrators. Heinrich Goring, father of the future Nazi leader Hermann Goring, served in 1885-91 as Reichskommissar of German Southwest Africa (now Namibia). T…

Missions giving and utility bills

Guy Muse references a Southern Baptist missions article. I really like this quote from it. "I often ask, 'How much does your church pay for utilities each year?' Then I ask, 'If you are paying more for your utility bill than you are giving to reach a lost world for Christ, how does that make you a missions-minded church?'" WOW!

Mary and the early church; blog a book

When you read a very interesting 500 page book on the development of Christian creeds it's hard to write a one blog book report. I have too many pages dog-eared. Instead of a book report, I will do a blog-a-book and highlight some interesting passages. The book under discussion is by J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, the 1978 edition. I've already quoted once from this book in regards to the treatment of adulterers in the early church.
Over and over again I find myself most frequently endeared to the North African Tertullian. He was one of the earliest proponents of Trinitarian theology. He also became a raving charismatic in his twilight years. For some people that's a negative, but I like him even more because of that.
There are a lot of players in the development of church doctrine. Some are saints, some are heretics. No one has it all correct, neither do I. I have given a link to everyone in except for the ones who only show up in Wikipedia. …

Why are black people so sensitive to nooses?

Perhaps a perusal of this collection of lynching memorabilia will provide an answer. You can also see more at the African American Holocaust.Warning; graphic portrayal of the depths of depravity of the white, American soul... White on black lynching still happens in our modern times, the last one in America in Texas in the late 1990's.

This isn't just about Jena, La. but also about the U. S. Coast Guard Academy in my city of residence, New London, Ct. Nooses were left in an African-American cadet's room and an officer who conducted race relation training afterwards.
There are more blog thoughts here (over 90 at this point) on the African-American experience. I also have many blog thoughts on human rights abuse.

10 C's #10: Lust, part b

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." Exodus 20:17 (NIV)

Does this command make the godly life incompatible with capitalism? No. Capitalism allows one who desires something to acquire it if means are sufficient to complete the exchange. In capitalism, if I like your car, I can go out and buy one just like it. The issue with this command is not that I want something just like yours, rather, I want yours. It's not, I want a wife like yours, but I want your wife. This reveals an attitude toward God, ungratefulness. When we recognize God's blessing in someone's life, we should rejoice with them and praise God with them because, Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 (NIV) Thus, the positive version of this comm…

what are blogs?

Great quote from Ted Olsen at Christianity Today in his article on the death of blogs.
The blog world risks becoming one giant midrash on The New York Times front page.

By the way, I've added this to my shared feeds feature, which has its own syndication feed.

The article is insightful. I don't feel the need to write as much as I used to. I consider this blog as one for feed readers who don't care if one feed isn't tickled 3 times a day. I have more feed readers than daily visitors, hence, I'm trying to include links to past articles, since there is no past in the reader.

Here are my other articles on blogging.

Dealbreaker review of Cruzbike

From the Recumbent Cyclist. His bottomline
FOR: There is nothing like it, something new for the bent rider who has everything, easier than I thought to ride, but difficult to master (tracking it straight).

AGAINST: Mediocre components, poor climbing ability (lack of low gears), heavy, unusual technique and the only commercially available FWD.

Previously, I had hoped this would be my next bike.

Night soil units

I wrote about Humanure awhile ago as an option for die hard conservationists such as myself. Well, Sun-mar has a wife-friendly option. Imagine spreading this on the green roof garden.

10 C's #10: Lust, part a

"Do not covet your neighbor's house; do not covet your neighbor's wife, his male or female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor." Exodus 20:17 (The Complete Jewish Bible)

In short, if God wanted you to have it you would get it. As a parent, I say similar things. Our children do not have many popular toys, at least at the same time as they are popular. When the popularity cools and the price drops, then they may get it, and, surprise, they aren't as interested in it. Why did they want it so bad? Lust. It gets everyone. Even if you could keep all the other 9 commands, they are external in their manifestation. But this one is internal. It proves our hearts are depraved. Paul writes about this in his letter to the Roman church.

7 Therefore, what are we to say? That the Torah is sinful? Heaven forbid! Rather, the function of the Torah was that without it, I would not have known what sin is. For example, I would not have become conscious of…

shipping container houses

When the going gets desperate, the desperate get going. Perhaps a Quik House is the way. It's the next level in modular building. Shipping containers are abundant. Steel is strong. Recycling them is green. Green roof possibility. Pour a foundation drop the prefitted modules with a crane, make the connections, and BAM! you are in your house in 3 months. There is already a 6 month waiting list. It comes out to $125- 165 psf excluding land.
HT: Green Home Building

Some other entries of mine on alternative houses:

Kid Nation hero

I don't have cable or satellite or even rabbit ear television, so when we vacation, we tend to over-indulge. One indulgence this weekend was a repeat of a new Survivor style show involving 8-14 year olds who are dropped in a ghost town to learn how to survive together, Kid Nation. What a miserable premise, eh? A summary from Slate is here. Of course our thoughts turn to Lord of the Flies, which is a brilliant argument for the total depravity of the human soul, no matter what age. In this situation though the depravity is perhaps more evident in the producers of the show than the children, who, nevertheless, do manifest their depravity. Who is my hero of the show? I give the gold star to 8 year old Jimmy from New Hampshire. He missed his family. He was under the impression things would be more like a summer camp. He wanted to go home. He resisted tremendous pressure from the host and fellow "citizens" in a public forum and stuck to his principles. He at least has principl…

10 C's #9: Lying, perjury and slander, part c

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Exodus 20:16 (ESV)

Why the lawyerly finesse on this command? Why doesn't it just say, "Don't lie?" I think the concept of neighbor is important. It is so important a scholar asked Jesus for a definition of neighbor, in the context of the command, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus responds with a story, the good Samaritan, in Luke 10:25-37. At the end of the story Jesus asks the scholar, which one was the neighbor, to which he replied, the "one who showed him mercy." Neighbors are like extended family in the same way that families look out for each other. It comes back to community, which God values. So if the command was simply, don't lie, then there would be no opportunity for devout Christians such as the ten Booms to hide Jews from the Nazis with clear consciences. In the context of loving their neighbors, hiding them and lying to protect them was the right thing to do. There are …

10 C's #9 Lying, perjury and slander, part b

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Exodus 20:16 (NASB)

Yesterday, I shared my childhood experience of perjury which cured me of it. I also talked about unfulfilled promises. I was convicted of some of my own on my bike ride this morning. I need to call a friend up and renew my offer of assistance. I'd like to look at slander a bit today.

Like perjury, slander is a way to elevate yourself and denigrate your neighbor. Gossip is a milder form of slander. Gossip can be less about hurting someone and more about portraying yourself as a source of all things private and juicy. Slander is often blatant lies designed to harm the reputation of your neighbor. A gossip might slide into slander when truth is less interesting causing a decline in popularity. Sometimes, though, we might feel the desire to take someone down a peg or two. Why? It's God who elevates. Who are we to contradict God? Nevertheless, it ruptures community. Community is important to God. He wants us …

The mess in Jena Louisiana

One story here. Should the assaulters be tried for assault? Yes. Vigilantism is wrong. But should the noose hanging resulted in a strong school response? Yes. But why was there even a segregated tree to hang out under?

test your American civics knowledge

Kids at Harvard only averaged a D+. I scored a B (52/60). How do you fare? Let me know. Story at Acton"s Powerblog. The quiz is here.

10 C's #9: Lying, perjury and slander, part a

The penultimate command of the ten says, You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. Exodus 20:16 (NIV)Notice it doesn't say you shall not lie. I think there is good reason for that, which I will come back too. The key question I ask myself is, what situations would I find myself tempted to give false testimony against my neighbor? Immediately, I remember a traumatic scene from my childhood when I was 6 and my brother was 3. I had broken a house rule and the violation was quickly discovered by my mother. This violation was of the hands-on discipline kind. When my mother asked in frustration who committed the crime I immediately blamed my brother, who was unable to muster a reasonable defense. I then ran behind a door and peaked through a crack witnessing the punishment I should have received. My perpetration of injustice in that instance destroyed any inclination to ever lie again. Lying is not one of my struggles. Judgmentalism toward those who don't value integ…

goodbye zoomclouds

The zoomcloud feature was directing traffic to a Spanish site and no longer serving it's purpose, so, "Goodbye Zoomcloud." If anyone knows of a good replacement, let me know. Thanks

new blog toy

The Tall Skinny Kiwi introduced Blogrush on his page. It's supposed to provide new links to and from one's blog. Unfortunately, the tuning isn't so fine. I chose to belong to the religion/spirituality group. I wish one could belong to multiple groups which would refine what blogs show up. Hopefully, my blog will appear on some other random sites. If you click the bottom of the widget to get your own blogrush, or click right here, you will help me get some traffic. It's like a social network/technorati mashup in a way. We'll see how it goes. I'll need to keep my post titles interesting. You wouldn't believe how many people searching for "passed out drunk and naked" end up on my post about Noah...

Yummy Land Shrimp

update below...
I enjoyed eating some land shrimp tonight from my friend Dave. What? You've never heard of land shrimp? You should read about it at Dave's website and buy some from him. I enjoyed crickets, local cicada, and spiced Mexican grasshoppers. They were dehydrated and yummy. Oh! I also had a silk moth larva. Yes, I have joined the rest of the world in entomophagy. A homeschooler has a great site called for more info. Dave has a blog with some pictures and explanations too. It's called Bugs for Dinner!

I don't have a category for this. I put it in conservation because if we all got our protein from things other than large mammals we'd waste less. Since March I have almost completely dropped out of the meat-eating population and it's going well. I get my protein from seafood and dairy as well as nuts, legumes, and other vegetable sources. I will not be afraid to add bugs to my sources now too!

Update: I now have pictures of my entomophagy!

Early Autumn cycling

One of my recent bicycle commuting pleasures is the smell of the ripened wild grapes alongside the Interstate. It transports me to my childhood when I played in the woods every day outside my back door. That was before Lyme disease was a concern.

I also enjoyed a commute in warm rain this week.

I feel bad for the people stuck in vehicles.

10C's #8 Stealing part b

You shall not steal. Exodus 20:15

What does stealing have to do with God? It's the ultimate expression of a renunciation of faith in God's provision. When we steal we deny that our Father can provide for us. Apostle James gives good insight into our dissatisfaction with our stuff and the solution to it.
4:1 Where do the conflicts and where do the quarrels among you come from? Is it not from this, from your passions that battle inside you? 2 You desire and you do not have; you murder and envy and you cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask; 3 you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions. 4 Adulterers, do you not know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God? So whoever decides to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy. 5 Or do you think the scripture means nothing when it says, “The spirit that God caused to live within us has an envious yearning”? 6 But he gives greater gr…

Illegal Immigration

I came across an interesting article at the Out of Ur blog regarding ministry to illegal immigrants. I left a brief comment there, the third of the day, and the first one not nodding in complete agreement. Two comments later the Nazi trump card was played. I really don't think my comments regarding civil disobedience that compelling to draw the nuclear weapon of internet debate. Two other commenters, a minority, also questioned the illegal means of assistance to illegal immigrants. Since I've learned to bite on my tongue and hold my replies for awhile, I let it go until this morning where I saw someone else making points I thought needed to be made.

I surfed around to get some more perspective on the issue and found a great series at the blog, Another Think. I haven't read everything, and I don't know if I'll agree with the conclusions, but I fully appreciate the attempt to shine a light on all the angles.

I have a friend who is not a believer. He is a home contracto…

pastor in Bangalore beaten

I don't post these stories as often as I used to because it happens so frequently. But this one is so frightening....
A pastor who runs an orphanage and Bible college in Kothanur, Bangalore, was beaten Monday by a group of 35 men who damaged his legs and fractured bones his back and neck. An associate of Dr. T.L. Angan Haokip, who contacted the New Delhi-based Christian Today newspaper, reported that the pastor was driving along a busy road in Geddalahalli village when a group of 35 men sporting long marks on their foreheads and wearing red threads on wrists stopped his vehicle and inquired if he was a pastor.Upon discovering that Angam was a pastor, the men said, "It is because of you that the nation is getting ruined," according to the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), and proceeded to brutally beat him and assault him in full public view. They also damaged the jeep in which he was traveling...Surprisingly, when the police were contacted, they were hes…

10C's #8: Stealing, part a

You shall not steal. Exodus 20:15

A popular song from my college days by Jane's Addiction was called Been Caught Stealing with these opening lyrics I've been caught stealing;
once when I was 5...
I enjoy stealing.
It's just as simple as that.
Well, it's just a simple fact.
When I want something, and
I don't want to pay for it.

I walk right through the door.
Walk right through the door.
Hey all right! If I get by, it's mine.
Mine all mine!
It sure was fun to sing along with even though I only knew a couple of the words. But songwriter Perry Farrell made the same observation of the 5th century Christian philosopher Augustine who reflected on his theft of pears. I quote a short summary from here. Augustine’s Confessions deal primarily with his spiritual journey through which he gains reconciliation with God. Throughout his self-examination, Augustine struggles to know why he sinned and why he cannot o…

Homosexual orientation is not fixed?! Mother Jones!

Quite the article from Mother Jones, not quite the bastion of conservative values, which asks whether pursuing proof for biological determinism for homosexuality is wise or even possible in an article titled, Gay By Choice? The Science of Sexual Identity by Gary Greenberg. Here are a couple choice excerpts.
Cahill—who says he doesn't think he was born gay—points out that even if it is crucial for public support, essentialism has a dark side: the remedicalization of homosexuality, this time as a biological condition that can be treated. Michael Bailey, a Northwestern University psychologist who has conducted some of the key studies of the genetics of sexual orientation, infuriated the gay and lesbian community with a paper arguing that, should prenatal markers of homosexuality be identified, parents ought to have the right to abort potentially gay fetuses. "It's reminiscent of eugenicist theories," Cahill tells me. "If it's seen as an undesirable trait, …

why riding a recumbent isn't weird enough for me

Not only do I want the a front wheel drive bike but now I want it with a drive shaft. Check out this technology on a normal bike.

intelligent design rejoinder

I recently blogged a humorous criticism of Intelligent Design, but now I feel bad. I recently finished watching with my kids a DVD produced by the Discovery Institute called Unlocking the Mystery of Life. My kids really liked it, but this biology major kept falling asleep. However, the difference between evolution and meteorology is the coding. There isn't an alphabet in the clouds but there is in DNA. That alphabet is specific and intelligent and points to a writer very clearly. There is no push back from these scientists in trying to uncover how the writer did it, in the same way that sculptors shouldn't figure out how Mt. Rushmore was made. Oftentimes, knocking down strawmen is much more fun.

10 C's: #7 Adultery part c

You shall not commit adultery Exodus 20:14

The church in Jerusalem wanted the Gentiles to avoid a couple really important behaviors. In Acts 15 (vs. 20, 29) we learn the big ones to avoid were food sacrificed to idols, blood, strangled animal meat, and immoral sex. In Paul's letters to the church in Corinth he assured them eating sacrificial food is fine if your conscience isn't bothering you and no one with a sensitive conscience sees you do it. The other two are never mentioned again. But sex comes up frequently. There are sin lists such as in 1 Timothy 1 8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers--and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the glorious gospel o…

book report: The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang

The depravity is so intense it was hard to read. A short history can be found at the History Place. In fact, the atrocities recounted and photographed in this book were so disturbing I had to take a break from this genre for awhile. I'm reading JND Kelley's Early Christian Doctrines for a breather.
In her assessment of the mentality of the Japanese army she touches on the reality of total depravity. Looking back upon millenia of history, it appears clear that no race or culture has a monopoly on wartime cruelty. The veneer of civilization seems to be exceedingly thin - one that can be easily stripped away, especially by the stresses of war.
How then do we explain the raw brutality carried out day after day after day in teh city of Nanking? Unlike their Nazi counterparts, who have mostly perished in prisons and before execution squads or, if alive, are spending their remaining days as fugitives from the law, many of the Japanese was criminals are still alive, living in peace and …

back from vacation

which means a great deal of work to catch up on. The luxury of blogging follows that. I have a book report, 5 more commandments, political thoughts, etc.