Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Tipping point

"Sailors drink to 'friends astern' until half way over the sea, and then drink to 'friends ahead'." (--attributed to William Wilberforce by S. G. Green)

Another day older, an old year behind and a new year ahead makes me friendly with and understanding of Wilberforce's statement. As we go ahead with faces forward, we eventually reach a "tipping point" when there are more we know across on the distance shore to which we're sailing than those who are behind.

Gospel discipline

"The church and people of God, have in no age kept up the Gospel standard. They have come short in faith, in the order and discipline of the church, and in practice. In times of outward peace, the churches are apt to become careless in reference to these things; the living members will become lukewarm and too much disposed to conform to the world, and persons destitute of grace are suffered to get in and remain with the church. Hence the importance of the churches being first purged before God inflicts his judgments upon their enemies. In the times of persecution and some other judgments, these judgments will do for the churches what they had failed to do for themselves by a faithful and correct exercise of discipline; the dead members will fall away and go to their proper associates, and thus be in a place to meet the judgments awaiting the enemies of the truth." -- Samuel Trott, 1856

The long arm of the law

"Gardeners at hundreds of spots around the country are sharing seeds as part of an increasing interest in locally grown food, but some agriculture officials say the well-meaning effort violates state laws."

* Seed libraries struggle with state laws limiting exchanges

"Agriculture officials say they weren’t looking for a fight but must enforce laws that are intended to protect farmers..."

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ooparts, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* After Year Of Atheism, Former Pastor: 'I Don't Think God Exists' -- "At the start of 2014, former Seventh-Day Adventist pastor Ryan Bell made an unusual New Year's resolution: to live for one year without God."
* Archaeologists Believe They Found Location Where Jesus Christ Taught -- "...archaeologists are convinced that Jesus taught here, with relics seeming to support that theory."
* Creativity for Creationists -- "Jeff Hardin, chairman of the University of Wisconsin’s zoology an evangelical, but much of his evangelism is directed at his fellow believers. He wants to persuade them that evolution and Christianity are compatible."
* Don't Just Question the 10 Commandments; Question the Entire Bible -- "So with more people considering themselves atheist, what do they believe when it comes to the rules to live by? "
* Everything We Have Been Taught About Our Origins Is A Lie -- "Out of place artefacts (Ooparts) are...“out of place” in the orthodox timeline of human history."
* Famous Scientists Who Believed in God -- "These days, many famous scientists are also strong proponents of atheism. However, in the past, and even today, many scientists believe that God exists and is responsible for what we see in nature."
* Nuclear physicist embraces biblical creation -- "Nuclear scientist Dr Brandon van der Ventel shares his creationist faith with Dr Jonathan Sarfati...Many people—ignorant of the biblical roots of modern science—are astounded that some top scientists are Christians."
* Sam Harris Slams NIH Director Francis Collins For Being A Christian -- "The neuroscientist then continued his critique against “sophisticated nuanced people” who, despite their intelligence and education, continue to embrace religious teachings."
* Supreme Court Justices Admit Inconsistency, and Embrace It -- "There is an art to admitting mistakes on the Supreme Court."

Radiometric dating

Dr. Brandon van der Ventel, a Nuclear Physicist from South Africa, gave the following information to Creation Magazine on the subject of Radiometric dating:
"Radiometric dating does not measure the age directly, but rather the ratio of the radioactive (unstable) parent nucleus to the stable daughter nucleus, as well as the present decay rate. However, several assumptions need to be made to proceed with the calculation:
"First, one needs to assume that there were no daughter nuclei present at the start; that is, the presence of the daughter nucleus is entirely due to the decay.
"Second, there had to be no leakage of either parent or daughter nuclei into or out of the sample. But how can we be sure of any of these assumptions if no-one was present when the rocks were formed or if the change in the elements were not monitored over the entire geological history?
"Third, the equation is valid only if the decay rate (λ) is a constant, and there is much evidence against this."

Monday, December 29, 2014

December 29 in music history

On December 29, 1876, gospel composer and singer Philip Paul Bliss died in the Ashtabula (Ohio) Bridge Disaster when the river bridge collapsed as the train he was riding was crossing it. Bliss escaped the train alive, but died in the flames trying to get his wife out of one of the cars. The lyrics for "I will sing of my redeemer" were found in their surviving trunk, and James McGranahan later set it to music.

I don't remember reading of the death of Bliss, though I may have just forgotten it. I noticed it on Today in Christian History. Among my favorite songs are two by P. P. Bliss -- the music to Horatio Spafford's "It is Well with My Soul" and the words & music to "Hallelujah, What a Saviour."

“Man of Sorrows!” what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Disraeli lies, and other quotes

"If the unborn is not a human person, no justification for abortion is necessary. However, if the unborn is a human person, no justification for abortion is adequate." -- Greg Koukl

"When I am dead, I hope it may be said: His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.'" -- Hilaire Belloc

"It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous." -- Robert Benchley

"Any statements by those who are called philosophers, especially the Platonists, which happen to be true and consistent with our faith should not cause alarm, but be claimed for our own use, as it were from owners who have no right to them." -- Augustine of Hippo

"Common sense is genius dressed up in work clothes." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"There are three kinds of lies; lies, damned lies, and statistics." -- Benjamin Disraeli

"Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can, it’s seldom in a woman and it’s never in a man." -- old quip, source unknown

"A fact is like a sack—it won’t stand up if it’s empty." -- Luigi Pirandello

"The plain fact is that there are no plain facts." -- Kevin Stilley

"The only people who get any better are the people who know that if they don't get any better God will still love them." -- Steve Brown

"Wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late." -- Felix Frankfurter

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Online metrical indices

Following is a list of some online metrical indices for hymns and tunes. Some are more useful and/or user-friendly than others. Some are more useful for finding texts, while others are more useful for finding tunes. Providing these links as resources does not constitute an endorsement of the sites or their contents.

* A Metrical Index to Gadsby's Hymns
* Chalice Hymnal Metrical Index
* Christian Classics Ethereal Library Hymn Tune metrical index
* Fasola Modality -- (Two sets of indices, including METER, of The 1991 edition Sacred Harp and seven 19th Century Shape-Note Hymnals.)
* Harmonia Sacra Metrical Index
* Hope Publishing Company Index of Hymn Tunes (Metrical Index begins on page 4)
* Hymn Time's Cyber Hymnal Meter Index
* Index of Meters for Spiritual Songs Hymn Book (There is also a metrical index for the Little Flock 1881 hymn book, but it is not easy to navigate -- for example _1metric.htm is 'long meter', _2metric.htm is 'short meter', etc.)
* Metrical Index of the tunes from the UK Methodist hymn book, Hymns and Psalms
* Metric List of Hymn Tunes of the 1982 Episcopal Church Hymnal (listed by meter, but only gives the first line of the hymn)
* OCP Master Index 2015 (The Metrical Index of Hymn Tunes starts on page 27.)
* Open Hymnal Metrical Index of Tunes
* Psalms and Hymns Metrical Index
* Southern Harmony
* The Free Lutheran Chorale Book Metrical Index of Tunes (links will go to a melody and associated hymn text)
* The Mystery Telling Vol 1 Metrical Index (each link takes you to a music score and hymn text)
* The Sacred Harp, 1991 Denson Edition
* The Sacred Harp, 2012 Cooper Edition
* Timeless Truths (From "all titles" choose to sort by meter.)
* Wesley Hymn Collection Metrical Index

Other resources
These are nice online resources with lots of information, but not indexed by hymn meter.

* (you can enter a meter in their search tool, or you can find a tune or text with the meter you want and click the linked meter from the tune or text's page)
* Oremus Hymnal (you have to look at each individual song to find the meter)
* Psalters (8 different Psalters, but you have to look through the Psalms for the right meter.)
* The Psalms of David in Metre (though these Psalms are in meter, the meter is not listed; they appear to be all, or mostly, in common meter)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Blast against survival of the fittest

"The race starts with 'spontaneous generation,' and then it goes right on until Darwin can take us up with his 'natural selection,' and Wallace can take us up with his 'survival of the fittest,' and we go right on up forever. Beautiful! But do the fittest survive? Garfield died in September--Guiteau surviving until the following June. 'Survival of the fittest?' Ah! No. The martyrs, religious and political, dying for their principles, their bloody persecutors living on to old age. 'Survival of the fittest?' Five hundred thousand brave Northern men marching out to meet five hundred thousand brave Southern men, and dying on the battlefield for a principle. Hundreds of thousands of these men went down into the grave-trenches. We staid at home in comfortable quarters. Did they die because they were not as fit to live as we who survived? Ah! No; not the 'survival of the fittest.' Ellsworth and Nathaniel Lyon falling on the Northern side--Albert Sidney Johnston and Stonewall Jackson falling on the Southern side. Did they fall because they were not as fit to live as the soldiers and generals who came back in safety? Did that child die because it was not as fit to live as those of your family that survived? Not the 'survival of the fittest.' In all communities some of the noblest, grandest men die in youth, or in mid-life, while some of the meanest and most contemptible live on to old age. No, it is not the 'survival of the fittest.'" -- T. De Witt Talmage in Trumpet Blasts, or Mountain-top Views of Life

Friday, December 26, 2014

A. J. Showalter, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* Anthony Johnson Showalter 1858 – 1924 -- "In 1884, he formed the Showalter Music Company of Dalton, Georgia, and proceeded to build it into one of the largest shape-note companies in the nation by the turn of the century."

* Hymn Meter and Tune Names -- "The composer...would often name the tune for the city, town or church where he was residing at the time he wrote the tune."
* Hymns: Sing and Shout -- "Exclusively oral in most congregations, psalmody depended upon a song leader "lining out" a verse for the congregation to repeat back."
* MY Business is to Sing: Emily Dickinson, Musician and Poet -- "Dickinson’s musical involvement and enthusiasm is expressed most abundantly in the sheet music that she collected."
* “Raymond Cooper Hamrick: Sacred Harp Craftsman” -- "...a short biography of [Raymond Cooper] Hamrick and an account of his prolific output as a Sacred Harp composer, has been published as the “Historical Profile” in Georgia Music News, Volume 72, Number 2 (Winter, 2011)."
* What Preachers May Not Know About the Church Hymnal -- "...interesting facts come to light when you take a really good look at the hymnal and the notes at the top and the bottom of the pages."
* William Bjornstad's Sacred Harp page at Find-A-Grave -- "...people who have been instrumental in teaching, singing, and promoting of Sacred Harp singing..."
* WordSing -- "Since 1978 George Lauderdale has been working on WordSing, the way to learn scripture through song.  Each chapter in the Bible has been summarized into four-lined stanzas based on the meter of favorite Hymns."

Awesome God

Written 20 Dec 2014, Meter 7s. 3 stanzas

Awesome is our God alone.
Creature, bow before His throne.
Cast thy best before His feet;
Seek Him at His mercy seat.

Holy reverend is His name,
Who for sinners took their blame;
Died upon a cursèd tree---
Low before Him bow the knee.

Jesus, fount from whence our stream,
Flows from Thee and back again;
Awesome is Thy name so high,
In the earth and in the sky.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Faithful unto death thou faithful unto death (Rev 2:10)

Faithful. Amidst the little we know of Joseph the husband of Mary, "faithful" is one word that can be attached to him with some degree of certainty. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much (Luke 16:10). Joseph was faithful to Mary. He was faithful to God. He was faithful to his family.

Faithful to Mary.
As her betrothed husband in waiting, Joseph was faithful to Mary. He maintained her purity (cf. Luke 1:34, e.g.) and his own. They did not engage in sexual relations before they were married. After discovering what (under normal circumstances) would have been betrayal of their betrothal, Joseph was disposed to act kindly toward his betrothed and not put her on public display (Matthew 1:19). As a new husband, Joseph protected Mary's virginity and Jesus's identity as a virgin born son by not consummating the marriage until after the birth of the Son of God. Like Joseph, many men have been called upon to raise some other man's child. Unlike any men, Joseph was called to raise God's child. This calling would include being the subject of gossip and innuendo. The "mathematicians" of Nazareth could certainly count the days from Joseph and Mary's marriage until the birth of her son! (Cf. John 8:41)

Faithful to God.
At least three times in Joseph's life he was visited by an angel with a message from God. Each time he faithfully obeyed. When Joseph considered putting Mary away for an act of infidelity, an angel presented the facts of a conception from God and not a man. This required Joseph to believe the unbelievable. But he believed and obeyed God, and took Mary to be his wife. After the birth of Jesus, an angel warned Joseph that the child Jesus's life was not safe in Bethlehem. Possibly not yet well settled after being displaced from Nazareth to Bethlehem, Joseph nevertheless believed God and uprooted his little family to life in a foreign country. There they must stay until they hear from God again. After Herod's death, Joseph received his third message from God in a dream -- return to Israel. And return he did. Each time God spoke in a message, Joseph responded in faithfulness. 

Faithful to his family.
In all these incidents and more, we view a man who was a family man, faithful to his family. It was Mary who was chosen of God to bear the Saviour. In effect, Joseph was chosen as well. Joseph looked out for his wife. He looked out for the welfare of Jesus. He looked to the physical needs of his family, by working to supply for them (cf. Matthew 13:55). He looked to the spiritual needs of his family, by bringing them up according to the law of the Lord. Jesus was circumsised on the 8th day and given His name (Luke 2:21). They went to Jerusalem every year for the Passover (Luke 2:41). In only one recorded incident might Joseph be charged with not carefully fulfilling his duty as a parent, when Jesus was 12 years old and stayed behind in Jerusalem (Luke 2:43). But even then the Bible seems to place no condemnation, for Jesus was going about His Father's (God's) business.

Sometimes a man is called to a supporting role that is behind the scenes, out of the limelight and requires the faithfulness of decrease rather than increase. As Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, as His role "increased" the role of Joseph decreased. No longer needed is the man to care for his pregnant bride or her little newborn son. Whatever happened to Joseph as he fades into the background and then out of the picture, we may not know. But we may know this. When he is painted in the picture, when God tells us what he did, we find a man who was found faithful.

Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. (1 Corinthians 4:2)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Life of Joseph

A number of people named Joseph are mentioned in the Bible, and the most well-known is probably not Joseph the husband of Mary, mother of Jesus. At church meeting on Sunday I mentioned that I don't think I have ever preached a sermon on Joseph or heard one preached. As he took a lower place behind his (as was supposed) son Jesus and his wife Mary, so we have often relegated him to a place in which he is only spoken in passing. Yet he, being dead, has some things to speak to us.

Joseph is mentioned by name about 16 times in the New Testament, often only in passing -- also once in a reference to Jesus as the "carpenter's son".

Joseph was an earthly descendant of David, King of Israel. He lived in the northern part of the country in Galilee in the city of Nazareth. In that city he betrothed a young lady named Mary. Before they married Joseph learned that his chosen bride was pregnant with a child he knew was not his. He thought about what to do and decided to break the betrothal in a private way rather than make her a public example of impurity. While meditating on that decision, God's angel appeared to him and declared that Mary was not guilty of fornication, but that the child in her womb was put there by the Holy Ghost. At God's insistence, Joseph took Mary to be his wife, but they did not consummate the marriage until after the birth of the Son of God.

During the pregnancy of Mary, the Roman ruler issued a taxation proclamation that required families to return to their native cities. Being descendants of David, Joseph and Mary made the arduous trip* to King David's city, Bethlehem, where Jesus was soon born. On the eighth day they made the trip to Jerusalem, where the child was circumcised and named. They found a home in Bethlehem and settled down in anonymity until that situation was interrupted by wise men from the east who hailed Jesus as King of the Jews. The ruler Herod was not happy to have a rival, even if a baby. Through an angel, God warned Joseph that the child's life was not safe, and the little family fled the country for safety in Egypt. After Herod died, God instructed Joseph to return to Israel. They passed through the area of Bethlehem, where Herod's son now ruled, and returned to their old home of Nazareth. There in that same town, and amongst a growing family, Jesus the Son of God was raised to manhood. Joseph carefully led his family in the ways of their faith, taking the family annually to Jerusalem for the Passover. It is there, in the 12th year of the life of Jesus, that we last hear of Joseph.

What happened to Joseph? We know not. His absence during the public ministry of Jesus suggests that he had died. The presence of the mother, brothers and sisters in Mark 6:3 hints that Joseph was no longer alive at that time, and the marriage at Cana in John 2 hints this as well. That Jesus as the eldest son makes arrangements for the care of His mother (John 19:25-27) seems fairly conclusive that Joseph's decease occurred before that event. Alas, we do know of a certainty, and cannot say with more certainty.

* the distance is some 65 miles "as the crow flies" (which definitely would not have been how Joseph and Mary traveled, and they probably went by way of Jericho to avoid Samaria); some suggest that the journey was a five day walk if the roads were dry and the travelers few; adding a pregnant woman to the equation would slow the travel time even more

The Lost Message of Jesus, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* Archaeologists discover ancient stamps that could support existence of the Bible's David and Solomon -- "Many historians have questioned the existence of the biblical kings Solomon and David..."
* Can gunmaker be held responsible for Newtown shooting? -- "The families of nine victims of the 2012 shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., are suing the manufacturer of the Bushman AR-15 for negligence and wrongful death."
* Florida Teen Recovering From Bear Attack -- "The attack happened near dusk Sunday in Eastpoint, Franklin County, on Florida’s panhandle." 
* “Is the North really any better?”: Why the region’s race politics are so misunderstood -- "...racism in America is and always has been a nationwide affair."
* OPINION: Non-Violence and the Lost Message of Jesus -- "Today, in the 2lst century, as we the human family face increasing violence, we are challenged to admit that we are on the wrong path..."
* Reflections on Assurance -- "By 'Christian assurance', I refer to a Christian believer's confidence that he or she is already in a right standing with God..."
* The Conversation About Sexual Assault is Missing the Mark -- "From UVA to the White House, James Lorello says when it comes to sexual assault  we’re not getting to the root of the issue."
* Two Things Pro-Choice Advocates Need to Hear -- "I thought the mantra of the day was, 'I believe in science.' Science is not your friend if you are a pro-choicer."
* Weighing up the evidence for the ‘Historical Jesus’ -- "Discussions over whether the figure known as the 'Historical Jesus' actually existed primarily reflect disagreements among atheists."
* When Racism Intersects With Absurdity -- "Understanding of and appreciation for the Constitution cannot be encased on the narrow parameters of one's feelings."
* Why 1940s America wasn’t as religious as you think — the rise and fall of American religion -- "It’s common for people to believe that religion was always more vibrant in the past."

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The problem of smart people

As one of the self-identified "unsmart" people, I found John Messerly's Religion’s smart-people problem: The shaky intellectual foundations of absolute faith very entertaining. I even found at least one truth on which we agree:

"The simplest answer is that people believe what they want to...not what the evidence supports."

I want to believe that is so, based on the evidence. Scientists and intellectuals embrace evolution based on the evidence they want to believe, and reject the evidence they don't want to believe. The evidence for evolution as the origin of existence is philosophically puny, logically ludicrous, and mathematically mind-blowing, yet many people believe it because they want to. Count me out.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called

Church journeys, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* An Open Letter: To My Porn-Watching Dad, From Your Daughter -- "Porn didn’t just affect your life; it affected everyone around you in ways I don’t think you can ever realize."
* Church Journeys: Progressive Primitive Baptist Church, a More "Normal" Church -- "I received an invite over Twitter and the normal church I preached at was Progressive Primitive Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, TN."
* Does Isaiah 14 Reveal Anything About Satan’s Fall? -- "The historical context of Isaiah 14 concerns the overthrow of an arrogant king (a “man” v. 16)–the Assyrian tyrant Sennacherib."
* Five Steps for Racial Reconciliation on Sunday at 11 a.m. -- "Clearly there is a tension here—a tension between building one church that displays Christian love, and the Christian love that reaches out to people in all their diversity."
* How Many Atheists does it take to put up a Billboard -- "So the actual number of atheists, despite what some people call themselves is less than 2.4 percent."
* Remember Lot's Wife -- "From experience, I would say, that there are times we all look back on our former life with pleasure."
* The Five "I Wills" of God and Lucifer -- "Typical of a proud, arrogant sinner, the devil's eyes couldn't be satisfied and he couldn't settle for being number two."
* The Very Deep Religious Allegory in Gilligan’s Island -- "The show’s creator, Sherwood Schwartz, reveals this in his book about the series."
* What Is "Arcing" and Why Is It Important? -- Arcing is a tool for following and documenting the flow of thought in the Biblical text.
* Why I Am a Primitive Baptist -- "Unlike most professing Christians, the Old Baptists believe that simplicity is preferable to complexity. "
* Why We Are Not Primitive Baptists (Part 1) -- "we sometimes will tell inquirers that compared to modern denominations or associations, we are most similar to Primitive Baptists."

Monday, December 22, 2014

Historical Jesus

Articles such as Weighing up the evidence for the ‘Historical Jesus’ are "hot topics" in the present semi-post-Christian atmosphere of our country. For now these "Discussions over whether the figure known as the 'Historical Jesus' actually existed" are, as Raphael Lataster identifies them, primarily "disagreements among atheists." How long this will continue the Lord only knows.

Even though these may be primarily "disagreements among atheists," the Bible will be part of the "go-to" material for the discussion. In Lataster's article I found the following item curious. He writes, “The Pauline Epistles, however, overwhelmingly support the 'celestial Jesus' theory, particularly with the passage indicating that demons killed Jesus, and would not have done so if they knew who he was (see: 1 Corinthians 2:6-10).”

The referenced text is:
1 Corinthians 2:6-10 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
I'm not sure whether Lataster's conclusion is a matter of misunderstanding the Bible, or deliberately misinterpreting it to fit a preconceived idea. While it is true that Satan is called the prince of this world (singular), no spiritual beings are in view in Paul's context in I Corinthians chapter 2. He speaks of the wisdom of men, the wisdom of this world and the wisdome of the princes of this world in contrast to the wisdom of God. Had the princes of the world recognized Jesus as the Son of God -- as did Peter, James & John, for example -- they would not have crucified Him.

"Humans – the murderers according to the Gospels – of course would still have killed Jesus, knowing full well that his death results in their salvation, and the defeat of the evil spirits," say Lataster. I've never heard such a novel interpretation as this in all my days. But I guess this was the best he could come up with in Paul's writings to “overwhelmingly support the 'celestial Jesus' theory.”

Don't believe it if you don't want to, but at least try to interact with what the text says.

9 Things I Wish, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* 9 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About the Persecution of Christians -- "Is discrimination against Christians an acceptable form of prejudice?"

* 9 Life Lessons Everyone Can Learn from a Farmer -- "You don’t get anything you don’t work hard for."
* A United Evangelical Response: The System Failed Eric Garner -- "Who stops police when they do something bad?"
* An Incendiary Statement? -- "I’m stunned speechless by this news."
* Black and Tan: a Collection of Essays and Excursions on Slavery, Culture War, and Scripture in America -- "We are all cousins. And not only are the races connected through God’s creation of Adam, we are united (this time in harmony) in the redemption purchased by the Son of God."
* Continent-Sized Scan Reveals US Underbelly -- "...the new study...built a detailed, 3D map of the Earth's upper mantle, which is the rocky layer between the crust and core."
* Histories Of Several Cosby Accusers Cast Doubt On Tales -- "There is virtually no standard by which the media are holding Mr Cosby’s accusers."
* Russell Moore, the Gospel of the Kingdom, and Eric Garner -- "The first time the word gospel is mentioned in the New Testament it has a qualifying term accompanying it: “...the gospel of the kingdom...”"
* US Birth Rate Hits All-Time Low -- "Among women under age 30, childbearing is on the decline, whereas it continues to rise among women older than 30..."
* Year after newlywed fatally shot during home robbery, widow speaks about faith, forgiveness -- "Earlier this year, Maryann pleaded with people on WBTV's Facebook page not to hate the men accused in his death."

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Something from nothing

In the beginning there was nothing. Though it's kind of hard to say there was a beginning, since there was nothing. Or to speak as if nothing were something, since it was nothing. After laying around some 20 billion years (though it is hard to tell how long since there were no years -- just nothing and nothing else) nothing decided it wanted to be something. Not sure why nothing wanted to be something or thought it could be something, since it had always been nothing. Nonetheless, nothing struggled 40 billion years and turned itself into a little something. At least it thought it was something. After 30 billion years, something that used to be nothing got tired of being something all alone. Not sure why something knew it was alone, since there had never been nothing but something that used to be nothing. Something that used to be nothing worked and worked and worked for 60 billion years and divided into two somethings -- one something that used to be nothing and one something that used to be something that used to be nothing. Well, some things went well for 50 billion years, until the two somethings decided they wanted something else. So they got together and made something. Now there was something that came from some things that used to be nothing, something that came from nothing, and something that used to be nothing.

How everything else got here, I don't know.

Prayer Answered by Crosses

"Prayer Answered by Crosses," Hymn No. 295 in William Gadsby's Selection

1. I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of his salvation know,
And seek more earnestly his face.

2. ’Twas he who taught me thus to pray,
And he, I trust, has answered prayer;
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair.

3. I hoped that in some favoured hour,
At once he’d answer my request;
And, by his love’s constraining power,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

4. Instead of this, he made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart,
And let the angry powers of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

5. Yea, more, with his own hand he seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

6. “Lord, why is this?” I trembling cried;
“Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?”
“’Tis in this way,” the Lord replied,
“I answer prayer for grace and faith.

7. “These inward trials I employ,
From self and pride to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou mayst seek thy all in me.”

By John Newton

Saturday, December 20, 2014

God's office, and other quotes

"God's office is at the end of your rope -- so let go and drop in." -- Unknown

"The difficulty of dying is correlated to how much you have died before you get there." -- Steve Brown

"The greatness of our estates is no argument of the goodness of our hearts." -- William Seeker

"We are called to live our lives in a way that realizes there is a world outside the academy. Most of the people in the economy are not economists. Most people who have made history are not historians." -- Douglas Wilson

"Bring up your children on the faith that they will be Christians rather than on the fear that they won't." -- Unknown

"If you ignore every single thing Jesus commanded you to do, you're not a Christian." -- Bill Maher

‎"Those who aren't following Jesus aren't his followers." ― Scot McKnight

"If we continue taking baby steps we eventually arrive at the goal." -- copied (Even if we don't arrive as quickly as some might like)

"Gold from Egypt is still gold." -- Augustine of Hippo

"Genius is sorrow’s child." -- John Adams

The help

The Obamas say they're still affected by everyday racism. Treated like "the help"? That might be true, but the examples they give are less than convincing.

First Lady Michelle Obama told about a trip to Target. While there another customer in the store asked for her help reaching an item (The President's wife in 5'11" tall). The customer did not recognize her as the first lady of the United States. That's not treating someone like "the help". That's just asking for help.

The President stated, "There's no black male my age, who's a professional, who hasn't come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car and somebody didn't hand them their car keys." Surely he intended that as hyperbole! Otherwise, I can't believe it.

Trying to identify with the plight of other African-Americans in the U. S. may be hard for this couple. After all, in a sense they are the most powerful couple in the United States. These stories don't say as much to me about discrimination against the first couple as it speaks to their own place of privilege. We underlings, "the help" who perform service jobs, should not be so far beneath them that they are insulted when identified with us.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Pets in Paradise, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* 10 Amazing Historical Conflicts That Are Completely Forgotten -- "...history is full of thousands of fascinating conflicts that most have never heard about."
* Archaeologists reveal layout of medieval city at Old Sarum -- "A research team of students and academics carried out a geophysical survey of the ancient monument, scanning ground at the site with state-of-the-art equipment to map the remains of buried structures."
* Burning death inquiry eyes woman's last hours -- "Authorities were reviewing Jessica Chambers' cellphone records and talking to possible witnesses..."
* Colorado Professor Forces Students to Say Anti-American Pledge; University to Investigate -- "I pledge allegiance to and wrap myself in the flag of the United States Against Anything Un-American and to the Republicans for which it stands..."
* Do Pets Go to Heaven? -- "...some become so attached that they yearn to be with their pets throughout eternity."
* Gay Christians choosing celibacy emerge from the shadows -- "When Eve Tushnet converted to Catholicism in 1998, she thought she might be the world’s first celibate Catholic lesbian."
* George F. Will commentary: ‘Offensive’ speech is still protected speech in U.S. -- "The Constitution does not permit the government to decide which types of otherwise protected speech are sufficiently offensive to require protection for the unwilling listener or viewer. Rather...the burden normally falls upon the viewer to avoid further bombardment of his sensibilities simply by averting his eyes."
* Parents angry after school tells 13-year-olds they can have sex, choose gender -- “Our daughter took this course two years ago, after being provided the opportunity to opt out of the class...After completing the course, it was apparent that some of what was ‘taught’ went beyond what was represented on the opt-out form.”
* Pope Francis: Animals Go To Heaven -- "One day we will see our animals again in eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all God’s creatures."
* Religion, polygamy at heart of Utah couple’s divorce and custody dispute -- "A Utah woman is fighting a temporary court order barring her from talking to her children about her fundamentalist Mormon beliefs, including polygamy."
* Science Says Couples With One Habit Stay Together Longer -- "...a decade of social science research suggests that partners who show they care about the little things activate a two-way feedback system that helps both members of a relationship feel closer and more fulfilled."
* The Ferguson Riots and the Tale of Two Americas -- "Most Americans are puzzled by the events centered on Ferguson, Mo."

So much for tolerance

"Intolerance in the name of tolerance is hypocrisy." -- Marco Rubio

* Army Punishes Chaplain For Discussing His Personal Faith During Suicide Prevention Training -- "It is outrageous that an Army chaplain would have his career threatened because he cared so much about his soldiers that he opened up to them about his personal struggles..."
* Atlanta Fire Chief Suspended Without Pay for Calling Homosexuality 'Sexual Perversion' in Book About Christian Values -- "Cochran, who first served as fire chief in 2008, began the month-long suspension this week and city officials are said to be considering further disciplinary action."
* International Human Trafficking Conference Cancelled Because Organizer is Christian Abortion Opponent -- "...three days before the beginning of the conference, the conference was cancelled because ...Mrs. Ruth Nordström...had defended a midwife in a freedom of conscience issue."
* Red Cross volunteer, 71, axed over gay marriage protest -- "The church-going pensioner received his dismissal letter after holding a one-man protest outside his local cathedral."
* Trinity Western grad 'attacked' for being Christian in job rejection -- "Bethany Paquette claims her application to work in Canada's North for Amaruk Wilderness Corp was rejected because she's Christian."

The intolerant tolerants do not tolerate any kind of discrimination except the kind of discrimination that they like to tolerate. The above are examples of the intolerant tolerant. In succumbing to the viewpoint that every viewpoint is legitimate, every viewpoint becomes legitimate except the viewpoint that will not admit that every viewpoint is legitimate.

All the above are examples linked I have noticed on the internet recently. They are posted for your viewing pleasure. That does not mean that I feel the same about each incident. For example (most of you probably won't agree, but) I believe that a private employer like Amaruk Wilderness Corporation should be able to refuse to hire someone who is Christian if they don't want to hire them for that reason. They nevertheless seem to be hypocrites who think that only their kind of viewpoint discrimination is legitimate and certainly not the views of Trinity Western College and its students. It appears that they enjoyed being extremely obnoxious about the rejection. Interestingly, they retreated to a position "solely based on the fact that she did not meet the minimum requirements" to be hired by them!

On the other hand, if government entities such as a city or the Army are going to be viewpoint neutral, that neutrality should extend to defend the views of Kelvin Cochran and Joe Lawhorn, as well as their detractors.

So much for tolerance. So, instead, how about protection of speech and viewpoints that we don't like and cannot tolerate? (For more information, please see the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Know the Heretics, and other book reviews

The posting of book reviews does not constitute endorsement of the books or book reviews that are linked.

* Book Review: ‘American Apocalypse’ -- "Sutton, a historian at Washington State University, argues that this form of evangelicalism, a precursor to today’s religious right, did not, as most histories have maintained, isolate itself from political affairs."
* Book Review: Come Out of Her My People by C.J. Koster -- "While "Come Out of Her My People" contains some good information and great Scripture verses, it also employs fallacious reasoning, reaching and subtle twists to come to their conclusions."
* Book Review: 'Hardball Religion' by Wade Burleson -- "...readers who are unfamiliar with the events recorded do not always receive full background or sufficient context."
Book Review: Know the Heretics -- "Who was Pelagius and why should the members of my church bother to find out? Why should we be interested in Arius’s ideas about Jesus Christ..."
* Book Review of Distinctly Baptist: Proclaiming  Identity in a New Generation -- "This text is unique in that it is really a collection of sermon manuscripts."
* Book Reviews, A Distinctively Baptist Church: Renewing your Church in Practice -- "Based on the premise in these post-modern days that many Baptists have either forgotten or neglected what it means to be a Baptist..."
* Book Reviews: Heaven Is For Real -- "Embarking on a short tour of the afterlife is all the rage, it seems."
* Man Realizes Dream of Becoming a Doctor Despite Cerebral Palsy -- (As much or more bio as book review)
* Victory through the Lamb: A Guide to Revelation in Plain Language – Book Review -- "Mark Wilson has provided a readable and helpful survey of the Book of Revelation with accompanying stories of faithful saints and martyrs...My concerns about the book are based on what I view as questionable hermeneutics and eschatology."

Hawker's heart

"All my springs are in thee."—Psalm lxxxvii. 7.

"Jesus is the source, the fountain, the author, the finisher of all our mercies; for every thing of life and salvation, of grace and glory, flow from him, centre in him; and therefore in him and from him, as the source of blessedness, all our springs must flow. In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily ." 
-- Robert Hawker - 1753-1827

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Marriage, mostly

The posting of links and quotes does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked or the comments quoted.

"Marriage is not created by the state, nor is it created by the church. Marriage precedes both church and state, and both are responsible to recognize it wherever it happens." -- John Stonestreet

"It is not good to repent of a sickness and it is not good to treat a sin." -- Karl Menninger (To replace sin with pathology, and repentance with recovery, makes you unable to deal with sin as a spiritual problem.)

"You are only thankful when you realize it is all a gift." -- copied

"Marriage is but one of the channels God uses to enable us to taste how deeply satisfying His thirst-quenching grace can be." -- Sinclair B. Ferguson

"Common sense isn't common except to the believer." -- Steve Brown

"As God by creation made two of one, so again by marriage He made one of two." -- Thomas Adam

"I want my marriage to be like the Earth -- full of life and revolving around the Son." -- Jennifer Smith

* Americans share views on marriage, church and state roles -- "Six in 10 say the government should not define or regulate marriage."
* Arguing Against Gay Marriage -- "The vast majority of Americans no longer believe in the authority of Scripture. So how do we argue against gay marriage in a way that our neighbors can understand?"
* Christian With Christian Message Refused Service by 13 Pro-homosexual Bakers -- "It was the baker’s dozen of discrimination."
* Investing in Hope: Speaking of sin -- "Many of us find it difficult to talk about sin these days, even in church services. It’s just not in vogue in modern America."
* Marriage crisis predated gay marriage, ERLC speakers say -- "...Albert Mohler opened the event by saying the crisis regarding the biblical, traditional definition of marriage as a permanent union of a man and a woman began “with the heterosexual subversion of marriage.”
* The Inconsistent Stance of Christians on Marriage -- "Sexual immorality is sexual immorality. The Lord does not value one sin over the other. He literally hates divorce."
* The scandal of evangelical silence on divorce -- "If I asked you to name the “hot button” social issues of concern to Christians...what probably wouldn’t come to mind is the high incidence of divorce."
* To Go or Not to Go: Why We Shouldn't take 'The Marriage Pledge' Too Soon -- "...Ephraim Radner and Christopher Seitz have offered what they refer to as “The Marriage Pledge,” calling clergy of all stripes to no longer sign government documents of civil marriage."

Pay or pay

Yahoo and others are reporting this story: 21-Year-Old Sues Parents for College Tuition — and Wins.

This is a sad situation at several levels. But what are the implications of courts making the decision that parents must pay for their child's college education? Sounds positively ludicrous to me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Philpot's Portions

"The Apostle declares, "He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" (1 Cor. 6:17). If, then, we are joined to the Lord, in other words, have a union with him, this is the closest of all unions. A man and his wife are one flesh, but Jesus and the saint are one spirit. If possessed of this we are one spirit with him; we understand what he says; we have the mind of Christ; we love what he loves, and hate what he hates. But out of this spiritual union flows communion with him, intercourse with him, communications from him, and the whole of that divine work upon the heart whereby the two spirits become one. The Spirit of Christ in his glorious Person and the Spirit of Christ in a believing heart meet together, and meeting together as two drops of rain running down a pane of glass, or two drops of oil, kiss into each other, and are no longer two but one. Now if you have been ever blest with a manifestation of Christ, your spirit has melted into his, and you have felt that sweet union and communion with him that you saw as with his eyes, heard as with his ears, felt as with his heart, and spoke as with his tongue."
-- J. C. Philpot - 1802-1869

Fish Fry and Fasola, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* Article on Sacred Harp Composer Raymond C. Hamrick in Georgia Music News -- "In addition to his seven songs in The Sacred Harp, 1991 Edition, one hundred of Hamrick’s shape-note compositions are collected in The Georgian Harmony (2010)."
* Fifth Sunday Singing -- "Minutes from alternative sources singing at Lin and Benny’s..."
* Fish Fry and Fasola: The Harrods Creek/Bob Meek Memorial Convention -- "The weekend started with our traditional Fish FRYday at Vine Street Baptist Church."
* Gathering Spaces: Shape Note Singing, the Tradition -- "In the early 1980s a group of people started getting together to sing shape note music in Madison."
* Music in African American Culture -- "A distinctive feature of shapenote singing is that the singers sing the note names—do-re-mi-a-sol-la-ti-do—before singing the words to the song."
* O Holy Night -- "A cappella rendition of “O Holy Night”"
* Performing Community: the Place of Music, Race and Gender in Producing Appalachian Space -- "Traditional, participatory music is a powerful medium through which people express and shape their ideas about identity, mobility, social relations, and belonging, and through which people are in turn shaped."
* Sacred Harp Singing Finds a Way Back to the Mainstream -- "He sat on the steps listening to the sounds that were so unique and so captivating, even at age 12, he knew it was his music."
* Shape Note: America’s Oldest Music Now Sung Around the World -- "Unbeknownst to many, the oldest form of written music in America is gaining international appeal."
* Singing Convention Attracts Thousands -- "The Macon County Singing Convention, five thousand strong, visited Lafayette Sunday."

Monday, December 15, 2014

Conversation, and other quotes

"Prejudice and mistreatment never moves away, but it does move around." -- Bart Barber

"We do not deliberate, for we have decided. To be for ever holding the truth of God, as though it might yet turn out to be a lie, were to lose all the comfort of it." -- Charles Spurgeon

"There are some things which do not need an “ongoing conversation” -- because God has already spoken." -- Mike Leake

"God has spoken. Therefore, every other conversation must be subservient to His conversation." -- Mike Leake

"Think as wise men do, but speak as the common people do." -- Aristotle

"Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened." – Winston Churchill

"When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear." -- Thomas Sowell

"Proud ignorance is no better than proud knowledge." -- Douglas Wilson

The New Generation (in 1929)

"The only thing recognized in matters of morals, the only standard for the definition and measure of God and things divine will be personal experience. Those who attempt to bind the conscience, direct the soul, and set before it a definite concept of God and a fixed line of conduct in respect to Him and to one another will be looked upon, not only as narrow bigots, but as intolerable tyrants, as criminal hinderers to all true knowledge. The new generation is intoxicated with the rallying cry of 'self-expression.'"

I. M. Haldeman, in Why I Am Opposed To Modernism, 1929

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Not just gay issues, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* CDC: Circumcision benefits outweigh risks -- "The thinking on circumcision has swung wildly over the years...By one estimate, only 25 percent of U.S. male newborns were circumcised in 1900."
* Dear Evangelicals: You’re Being Had -- "The trouble is, you’re trying to solve cultural problems with political solutions—because politicians have convinced you to do so."
* Ethiopia Destroys Evangelical Church Building; 100 Christians Forced Underground -- "The Y Semay Birihan Church, or Heaven’s Light Church, was demolished last week by Shenkore district police in the heavily Islamic city of Harar..."
* How To Stock A Probiotic Pantry -- "Your gut is teeming with trillions of bacteria that help you digest food as well as thwart intruders — and it turns out, you can give those friendly bacteria a boost by adding probiotics to your body."
* Michael Brown's stepdad investigated for comments -- "...police are trying to determine whether Brown's stepfather, Louis Head, was attempting to incite a riot on Nov. 24 when he screamed "Burn this ---- down" to a crowd of protesters..."
* Not just gay issues: Why hundreds of congregations made final break with mainline denominations -- "Departing Presbyterian leaders...concerns included claims that the denomination was overly politicized and weakening biblical authority and traditional teaching on the divinity of Jesus."
* Shocking Footage: Rick Warren Embraces Roman Catholicism -- "Rick Warren...did this truly astounding promotional video for the Vatican, discussing what Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church had in common and how we could participate in shared causes."