These things I believe

Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I’ve taken some time to be alone, in quiet, and examine what I believe. Some of these are theological, some philosophical, and others are political. They are in no particular order and may not be comprehensive. These are right for me. You may feel differently and I’d love to civilly and respectfully discuss those differences. Here is the result of my self-examination of what I stand for. These things are an integrated unit so if you are interested, read them all first and then we should talk. I believe…

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Standing in the stead of God

Technology has given us the ability to breathe lifelikeness into a person whose soul has long since departed. God knows the paths we walk and when we are to walk no longer. Whenever we stand in the stead of God, no matter how innocently nor unawares, we simply prove that He is and we are not.

These are the words of Qoholeth, the Preacher,

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”
before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain,
in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed,
and the doors on the street are shut–when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low–
they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets–
before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern,
and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
–Ecclesiastes 12:1-7

I’m going to regain it the way I lost it

Somewhere, between ten years ago and yesterday,
I started to lose my life
I don’t know exactly when or why
But it was a long journey that ended today
There must have been a day like the day before it
Where a little sliver fell away
Then another fell, then two, three, five, and eight
And then one day when the death spiral began
Thirteen fell …

It was a painless loss because It happened so
so
so
slowly

I want to get it back the way I lost it
Slowly, nearly imperceptibly
I want to be pleasantly surprised at its return
So it feels like it was almost never gone.

Desire can make the clock run faster

I was discussing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software with a fellow student in a grad school class.  The discussion revolved around the professors question, “how might an ERP system help Harley-Davidson improve its position in the market?”  My first thought was an ERP system could help Harley reduce its perpetual two-year backlog on the delivery of certain models.

After some more thinking, I decided this would actually hurt Harley’s position in the market because while an increase in the number of bikes on the road might seem like the way to improve market share, it neglects to take the psyche of the buyer into account.  Part of what makes a Harley-Davidson motorcycle such an object of desire is the fact that the streets are not lined with Harleys.  Harleys are special; so special, that you have to wait two years just to get one.

There is another special thing about the waiting period; money cannot change it.  The working-class guy that saved 38 years to get a Harley Blackline with the black Screamin’ Eagle  pipes, the ThunderStar custom wheels, the Sundowner deep bucket seat with the sissy bar, and the HD Orange and Vivid Black tank has to wait two years for it just like the first year lawyer that is buying one with his first annual performance bonus check.  If the lawyer shelled out an extra $20,000, all he would get is two bikes with the same two-year waiting period.  All men wade through the waters of time at the same rate.

A production increase would most assuredly result in a brief bump in sales, but all too quickly, what was special and hard to come by would soon be commonplace.  Prices would drop and then sales would decrease because the new commonplace Harley was more expensive than the equally commonplace import, so the average motorcyclist would go back to buying the cheapest solution.

My classmate just didn’t get it.  She wrote, “I guess to each his own, but I do believe that some of the people that would have bought HD’s would go to another company just to get a motorcycle, because sometimes waiting for something can make you lose interest. Look at how many companies are selling motorcycles now. Of course, they do not have the ALLURE of a HD, but if you’ve dreamed of reading a bike through the desert, or some other dream location, and you can’t get it for 2 years, then I think your attitude and circumstances will dictate that you buy something else and get on with your LIFE.”

I feel sad for her and other members of society that have assuaged impatience with compromise.  Desire is what drives the man that has saved 38 years for his dream Harley to wait another two years for delivery.  I explained desire to my impatient classmate.  I told her about a man named Jacob that loved a woman named Rachel.  He had to work seven years for her father before she could be his bride.  As the story goes, “Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her” (Genesis 29:20, New International Version).  The point of the story is simple; desire can make the clock run faster.

Just Say NO to Trolls

A preacher friend of mine sent me a link to a beautiful Christian music video.  When I got done watching it, I noticed a link to this video of Carrie Underwood singing “How Great Thou Art” with Vince Gill.

It was a blessing to watch.  I started writing a nice comment about the video.  Below it, I glanced at a comment from some bitter poop of a supposed Christian that goes by the screen name of atterolevad.

there has been a contemporary christian music industry since the 60′ with many styles including rock. these brave christian ministers have come up against foolishness condeming them for there style of music even though they walk the talk . meanwhile carrie underwood sings about getting revenge if her man ever cheats, while other country singers talk about honky tonk ba donka donk, one more drinking song, whos bed has your boots been under..ect. christian values….I think not.

I had to say something.

For my Christian brethren who don’t think the same artist can sing Jesus Take the Wheel, Before He Cheats, & How Great Thou Art; get a life. This woman is willing to risk popularity & record sales by being very open about her faith. How many risks have YOU taken to proclaim your faith?

Fortunately, God’s grace protects us, even when we strike out in revenge, or, perish the thought, have a drink. The world has much ugliness in it. I suspect that Carrie was telling a story, not writing an autobiography. Just remember, if you are never in the midst of the world, you can’t reach the world. Carrie Underwood has a greater impact on the world by being a Country musician that sings some Gospel than a Gospel musician that sings some Country.

That wasn’t enough.  I was really ticked off at this atterolevad knucklehead so I started doing some research.  In 2009, he/she/it put up a page on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/atterolevad) with a video from this group, the Global Information Network (GIN).  The video was narrated by some kook with a really bad German accent. For ten minutes, he rambled on about how an exclusive membership in GIN, a “club only for affluent, like-minded people” that could help you to raise $10,000 in one day, eliminate bad credit, get a second passport, learn about UFOs, make huge winnings playing baccarat and betting on horse races, attract cars, lovers, and good health, read minds, predict the future, and be healed from almost every disease.  This made me think of a couple of things:

  1. Clearly, GIN couldn’t heal atterolevad’s inability to use the English language.
  2. Since when are Christians interested in mind reading, UFOs, and  being involved in exclusive clubs that wallow in “filthy lucre.”
  3. Doesn’t atterolevad have anything better to do than making stupid comments and promoting cult-like MLM schemes?
  4. How am I allowing myself to get sucked into this insipid discussion?

Then I Googled “atterolevad.”  What I saw was a series of incoherent rants that I can only describe as a cacophony of moronic blather.  atterolevad is what we in interactive chatting call a “troll.”  In fairy tales, trolls are hideous creatures that fear the daylight, hide under bridges, pop up to snatch unsuspecting children from the bridge, and then eat them.  In chat, a troll sits and waits for a spot in a discussion to go on a stupid diatribe, rile people up, and then disappear.

I am writing this for a reason.  atterolevad is a sad little troll.  These trolls tend to suck people, myself included, into their little black pools of putrid ooze.  We waste our time trying to reason with them.  They don’t listen.  Unless you make replies that agree with them 100% they vomit their ignorance upon you and leave you covered in sticky cubes of ochre stupidity.  When we engage them, we might as well go to a theater, wait in line, jump out of the line just before we can buy a ticket, return to the end of the line, and repeat this until the theater closes.  We will have accomplished the same with either activity.

My advice, just say no to trolls.

Lessons from Acts Chapters 27 and 28

Pastor Don Sharpe of my church, Grace Community Church of Kingsville, MD, preached a message entitled “Rome at Last.”  It addressed the practical applications we can draw from learning about the Apostle Paul’s journey to Rome as accounted for in Acts chapters 27 and 28.  Here are some of the high points:

  • We are to trust God to work, even when the circumstances seem impossible.
  • The Gospel mission requires trusting God can work in any situation He places us in.
  • Just when Paul needed encouragement the most, God provided it.
  • Paul was a testimony to those around him by trusting God in times of great struggle. That sort of conduct is what draws others toward God.
  • Sometimes, in difficult circumstances, we can forget that our lives and circumstances are in God’s hands.
  • God doesn’t always work in the ways we expect.
  • If we are to fulfill our place in the Gospel mission we must trust that God is at work all around us in all circumstances.

The plural for the fraction 1/8

Am I the only person in the world that struggles with spelling the plural of 1/8 as “eighths?” Maybe it’s the five consonants in a row with multiple H’s that throws me.  It’s almost Welsh-like.  If you’ve never seen Welsh, it is a thing unto itself.  For example:

John 3:16 (English)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Ioan 3:16 (Welsh)

Canys felly y carodd Duw y byd fel y rhoddodd efe ei unig-anedig Fab, fel na choller pwy bynnag a gredo ynddo ef, ond caffael ohono fywyd tragwyddol.