Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mythbusters Try THIS at Home

Have you seen the show, Mythbusters?  For years a group of scientists and stunt men have been testing out America’s favorite myths.  Most involve explosions or robotics.  Some are gross.  Some are weird.  Many are preceded by “Don’t try this at home.”  You know. 

So I learned something on Mythbusters the other day.  It is very exciting, and I know you’ll love it.  This one you CAN try at home. 

For each myth, they write the name of the myth on a chalkboard.  And the other day I saw a clip where the girl was actually doing the writing.  She wrote the word once, and then started over and wrote the same word on top of that word.  It looked like this: 

And I like that look.  It is simple and dimensional and different and loose.  I have already employed it in making a card.  It’s that cool.  You should try it, too.  And you can do it with any writing utensil: pen, pencil, crayon, marker, or chalk! 

To God be all glory.

“Read Between the Lines Pigfest" Summaries

Biblically, married couples should not use birth control.  The Bible does say that children are a blessing, and commands us to be fruitful and multiply.  Barrenness is in a list of curses that will come on a people or a country that disobeys God.  God controls the womb.  Do we also forbid attempts to get pregnant (in vitro fertilization, for example)?  What about Natural Family Planning – no chemicals, surgeries, or other medical devices?  Is the issue taking control?  Avoiding blessings?  Or not valuing children?  Do we make exceptions for certain couples, for those with dangerous health  problems associated with pregnancy?  Yes, children are a blessing, but God describes many things as blessings, and we do not pursue them all.  Singleness is a blessing.  That blessing excludes parenthood in most cases.  Can you really choose and the blessing still be a blessing?  Who gives blessings?  Wasn’t the command to be fruitful only given to Adam and Eve and repeated to Noah?  It may be our right to pursue blessings, but as Christians, aren’t we supposed to lay down our rights in deference to God?  The Bible describes children as arrows in the hand of a warrior; if Christian couples are declining to have kids, are they shirking their responsibility to further the kingdom of God as best they can?  Our worldview has shifted, even in the last century, to see large families as abnormal or even undesirable.  Before this century it was the common teaching of Catholics and Protestants that birth control was wrong, that God wanted them to accept as many children as He granted.  We have biblical examples, if not mandates, of people regarding blessings.  Did anyone good ever refuse something that was a blessing?  What about the story of Onan where he acted the kinsman-redeemer but specifically avoided the possibility of conception in the union?  He was condemned.  But maybe he was condemned for the motives and implications of the act? 

Christians become more like the world as they withdraw from the world.  In what way would you describe those prime examples of religious seclusion: Amish and monks in a monastery, as being more like the world?  Worldly is defined as self-centered, reluctant to share our faith.  Though that is not particularly world-like, as they are eager to share their beliefs.  Perhaps it could be argued that Christians withdrawing from interaction with the world are growing less godly or less obedient (are we not called to be salt and light?) rather than more worldly.  There are many monasteries that, while pursuing a life apart, still engage in ministry to the community, to the “world.”  They do teaching ministries and nursing, for example.  Has not the US church become a club, withdrawing from the world in their exclusivity, because we are neglecting the command to reach out?  What made it become a club?  Maybe that itself was a consequence of becoming like the world, and inviting the world in on its terms.  If the world wants to come to church, shouldn’t they want to come for the truth?  Christians are commanded to be somewhat separate: more hospitable to other Christians than to nonbelievers; also to know who is “in” and who is “out” in order that outreach might be a definite, stand-out activity.  We as Christians are known by our love to one another.  Being so separate that the difference is obvious is a witness.  The Bible teaches Christians to engage in BOTH discipleship AND evangelism.  1 John instructs us NOT to love the world or anything in the world.  Those Christian leaders most recognized for being engaged in the world and having a large impact or effect on the world – are they having an impact for the Kingdom of God?  Billy [Graham], Joel [Osteen], and Rick [Warren] are “ruining the kingdom of God.”  Our interaction with the world should be one of confrontation.  And perhaps “Christians” in the US aren’t real Christians, so withdrawing from responsibilities to love their neighbors is a natural reaction. 

(First Ever 2 Minute Debate!)  The Sun will go out before Jesus comes back, so we should colonize other solar systems.  Jesus said He was coming back soon.  At that point the world had only existed for 4,000 or so years, so the absolute maximum that could have meant would be A.D. 4,000.  There is no way the Sun is burning out in 2,000 years.  If we’re still around then, though, and He hasn’t come back, maybe then we’ll look into colonizing other solar systems.  Plus we have better things to do than worrying about the survival of humanity after the earth.

Confessing sins to fellow disciples is essential for healthy community.  Don’t we already confess sins to each other?  It just starts out with, “It was SO cool…”  Seriously, isn’t there a danger of confession turning into bragging?  If I tell you my sins, doesn’t that encourage you to gossip about me?  Disciple is defined as one who is pursuing godliness, trying to grow spiritually.  So the discretion used in confessing to disciples can guard against some dangers.  Another danger is the power of suggestion introducing a type of temptation to others.  But confession could – and should – be made without details.  The benefit of hearing sins confessed is to realize that other Christians are struggling with sin – maybe even the same sin – too.  That gives assurance that the temptation and failure is not a sign of being unregenerate.  Should confession be private (accountability partner) or communal?  History has recorded many times where revival followed public confession.  Pastors often set the example of public confession, apologizing for faults during sermons.  It is probably more important for leaders to confess publicly.  So what?  Now everyone knows that everyone else is a mess just like them.  How does that build healthy community?  Congregations can pray for each other when they know the need, support each other, and rejoice in the victories.  But people don’t have to wait until they’ve conquered sins to start confessing.  And a meeting could involve some confession and some victory reports.  Confession invites intimacy.  Public confession facilitates repentance, whereas not having to tell anyone about it lets a person “get over it” without being truly sorry.  Isn’t God sufficient pressure to invite true repentance?  Being one with God is tied to being one with others.  The Christian response to confession is forgiveness, especially if you were wronged by the sin.  But the Bible does record times when men confessed their sins and received judgment.  Take Achan, whose whole family was stoned with him even after he confessed.  Still, a case can be made that the stoning of Achan’s household was good for the community, which is the wording of the resolution.  Reality has Christians experiencing consequences even though we’re forgiven. 

The way Protestants teach salvation by grace alone/faith alone/Christ alone leads people to faith in intellectual assent, not to faith in the Spirit of Christ (true salvation).  So we shouldn’t teach that gospel?  Or we need to be very careful how it’s explained?  Christians tend to use terms with people who don’t know what we mean, like faith; in our culture it is understood as intellectual assent.  So if that isn’t what we mean, we need to define our terms or use words that anyone can understand.  Sometimes there aren’t words for concepts (some tribes have been discovered with no word for mercy or forgiveness): in such cases, longer explanations and even demonstrations may be necessary.  Part of the cause of false conversions in America today is that salvation is sold as a ticket out of hell…  But if it is true that we are saved by faith alone, why does it matter how an evangelist explains the gospel?  The gospel of intellectual assent is a Holy Spirit-less gospel; it doesn’t lead them to God.  Isn’t the Holy Spirit capable of using weak words to nonetheless convert hearts?  It is the Christian’s responsibility to be as clear as he can.  When we talk about salvation, we rarely mention that the choice brings a cost: lordship of Christ, sacrificing, how much easier it is to live without morals.  We say “God has a wonderful plan for your life” but look at Paul’s life.  Are we being dishonest?  What about using a word like “mistake” instead of sin?  Doesn’t that give the impression that your rebellion against God was an accident?  But that could be an attempt at using an understandable word when no one knows what sin is anymore.  Are there better words, though, like “wrong”?  Originally it was understood that converting to a certain religion, with its doctrines, had consequences.  It meant a conversion to that lifestyle as well.  How do we know when people are understanding us?  If our lives back up our message, we become our own visual aid.  Even the word saved can be misleading.  Most people don’t experience a feeling of danger because they were born spiritually dead.  They are not presently in Hell, so they don’t realize the importance of being saved from it.  But if you use the word “changed,” that implies that something happens to you but also that you are different.  And you are not only changed, but also changing.  Some people do get saved out of fear of Hell.  But the Great Commission was to make disciples.  To make changed people.  Aren’t Justification and Regeneration equal and indivisible parts of salvation?  Hearing the message of salvation from Hell gives people an appreciation for God’s grace, because they have a concept of His wrath.

Are you tired of being buffeted by your fan?  (Did you even know you were being buffeted?)  Try the new and fantastic Dyson* Air Foil Fan.  It works like a jet engine.  Some people have noted that wind is naturally, uh, well, buffeting, so that style of air propellant might be preferred by some people.  But when is the last time someone invented a new fan?  Start saving now!  *Dyson, the inventor, is now “Sir Dyson.”  He was knighted by the Queen.  That’s how cool his fan is.  (The preceding paragraph should not be taken as an endorsement of Dyson or any of its products or ideas.)

Christians, for efficiency, should focus on saving kids dying of natural causes than the much more difficult task of keeping other people (parents) from killing them, as in pro-life work.  Both victims want to be saved.  There is less resistance from authorities and parents to saving people who are starving or without clean drinking water.  Aren’t both causes of death the result of hardened hearts and sinful people?  Maybe even the result of our sin?  So the task involves overcoming hard hearts either way.  But the resolution was about saving lives, not changing hearts.  It is easier to save people – physically – from natural threats.  But the reason to save either children is to give them a chance to hear the spiritual message of salvation by grace in the future.  Don’t pit two good things against each other.  Doing something here in your spare time is easier than packing up the family and moving to Africa to dig wells for drinking water, and corresponds better to a lot of peoples’ callings.  The Bible talks about blood guilt for a nation that commits the shedding of innocent blood; doesn’t that put some priority on us addressing the deaths in our OWN nation?  But our influence isn’t just national anymore; it is global.  And blood guilt is a global phenomenon.  Shouldn’t we start at home?  Don’t do something just because it is easier.  But we weren’t talking about easy; we were talking about efficient.  And efficiency implies limited resources; our God who is sending us to care for the weak and needy is not limited.  Unless you consider that He is limited by human willingness (our willingness to obey or others’ willingness to receive).  Are we going for results?  The biggest number of people helped?  Shouldn’t we just be trying to glorify God in whatever we do?  Is it wrong to use wisdom, taking efficiency into consideration, to make that choice?  Jesus said that thousands were starving but Elijah was sent to only one widow.  So one needs to take into account personal conviction and direction from God.  Have God’s values.  Whatever you do, do it heartily.  Efficiency is a worthy consideration, but not the sole motivator.  We need God’s direction.  And what if those we save by using our energies efficiently end up transforming the world and saving people from other kinds of death as well?  Are we not furthering the kingdom of God by saving multitudes from starvation and disease – thus ingratiating the world to us and our message? 

Institutional Church is fundamentally neither worse nor less biblical than any other form of church.  Institutional Church is defined as that typical of the United States, including an order of worship, a building, pastors and elders.  Though theoretically the models may have equal ground, consistent tendencies suggest a flaw in the institutional model.  Are home churches any better?  Institutional Churches have the record for longevity.  House churches don’t usually last hundreds of years.  But maybe that isn’t the goal of a house church.  Where size is concerned, Institutional Churches tend to be larger, which guards against false doctrine and gives greater accountability.  Is that true?  Doesn’t the larger congregation provide anonymity, and so hinder accountability?  In denominations, a characteristic of Institutional Church, individual congregations are accountable to the denomination, particularly for their doctrine.  Jim Elliot said the Church is God’s, and it is important to Him, so if He has a way He wants the Church to meet and worship Him, we should do it that way.  [and this is my blog, so I can edit history and give the quote for real: “The pivot point hangs on whether or not God has revealed a universal pattern for the church in the New Testament. If He has not, then anything will do so long as it works. But I am convinced that nothing so dear to the heart of Christ as His Bride should be left without explicit instructions as to her corporate conduct. I am further convinced that the 20th century has in no way simulated this pattern in its method of ‘churching’ a community . . . it is incumbent upon me, if God has a pattern for the church, to find and establish that pattern, at all costs” (Shadow of The Almighty: Life and Testimony of Jim ElliotSee also my website: www.ChurchMoot.wordpress.com]  The Bible describes a model of church that the Institutional Church does not match.  That is what makes it inferior.  For example, 1 Corinthians 14 says that when the Church gathers, every one has a teaching, psalm, prophecy, tongue – not just a pre-scheduled pastor.  But the Bible also teaches that there should be order, that everyone should not be talking over each other.  Isn’t that an “order of worship”?  The Bible does talk about pastors, though!  What is the role of a pastor?  When the New Testament talks about pastors and apostles and evangelists giving attention to teaching and preaching, doesn’t that suggest the sermon?  Preaching is primarily for evangelism.  Christians are to honor those elders especially who minister in the Word.  Shouldn’t a Christian convicted about these matters try to reform the Institutional Church?  How can he, when the means at his disposal are the very thing he wants to change?  You could keep the same people, the same congregation, but you would have to tear the whole structure down and start over.  The issue isn’t problems in individual congregations or even necessarily those “tendencies” to which Institutional Church is prone; it is the description of the Church meetings given in the New Testament.  Where did the New Testament Church meet?  How did they facilitate the Church in Jerusalem at thousands of members if it met in houses?  They didn’t all have to meet at once in one place.  Is it wrong to meet in buildings?  Buildings cost money to maintain.  The Early Church and House Churches can use that money for other things, not needing to budget for light-bulbs and parking lots.  And the money was administered not by a church fund, but entrusted to the apostles.  Would it be best to return to an Apostolic Model, then, or even recognize Apostolic Succession as in the Catholic Church? 

What Americans call consumerism isn’t consumerism; it’s collecting and hoarding, so we should stop maligning consumerism.  Why do we think of consuming as bad?  Everyone consumes.  But isn’t that the threat behind “carbon footprints” of every organism?  Hoarding is entrapping; it’s worse than cigarettes.  We store all this stuff in our houses and then we lose it by the time we “need” it.  But people find security in having backups for things they use a lot.  And the reason we need a backup is because our society has manufactured (or demanded the manufacture of) consumable products, things that break or wear out.  When something breaks, we have easy access to stores, which store replacements for you.  We don’t just throw out broken things, though; we get rid of things to make way for the “new” thing, the upgrade.  What should you do with things you’re not using?  You shouldn’t keep it unless you are highly efficient at your storage and make your supplies work for you, your neighbors, and friends (hospitality: see Pigfest February 2010).  Isn’t this hoarding just the “building bigger barns” as in Jesus’ parable?  Then again, maybe it is the responsible thing to do, to work hard now and save up (not just money) for later, like the fabled ants in The Ant and the Grasshopper.  But is consuming really bad?  If you’re really using something up, and people are able to keep producing it, go ahead and consume.  Stores aren’t always as accessible as efficiency would require.  Consumption doesn’t just cost money; it costs lives and freedom.  There are some economies purposefully enslaved, where the people are kept dependent and forced to manufacture that which we consume.  Consumption is not acceptable, then, at every cost.  Isn’t the hoarding we’re talking about a sign of a lack of trust that God will take care of us in the future? 

The End.

To God be all glory.

Pigfests are Amazing

Pigfests are amazing.  In my experience it involves people piling into my living room and kitchen, laden with food, ready to talk and encourage and challenge each other.  A few people bring Bibles.  Sitting out on tabletops are dictionaries and concordances.  There is pen and paper.  We open all the windows and turn on the fans.  But energy fills the room, and things heat up.  Sometimes we hit topics that are very emotional, and participants have to take a deep breath.  At one point a person will jump in and say his part.  At others, he’ll sit patiently with his hand up.  When speakers get really excited, they pull their feet up on the couch to get taller, or stand, or gesture.  A few babies and small children crawl around from eager arms to smiling friend to Mom. 

Conversation as is experienced at a Pigfest is stimulating and fun.  You get to know a person.  Then they throw you by playing Devil’s Advocate.  Some contributions for debate are questions; the contributor hasn’t decided what he thinks, but wants other people to help him explore the topic.  Others are playful, interested in getting people to think about an obscure idea they never would have considered otherwise.  We have had responsive resolutions: answering and often objecting to events or decisions in world affairs or the lives of their friends.  Probably the most common version of a proposal in a Pigfest is of the soap box variety.  A contributor has an belief they want to persuade everyone to share. 

This weekend there was a Pigfest at my house.  It was well-attended (23 debaters and a few children).  Only one person had never experienced a Pigfest before.  Everyone else is essentially a “regular.”  That’s changing, as things in life tend to do.  One is getting married and moving away.  Two are moving to Bangladesh.  Two are going on a six month mission trip to South Africa.  One is moving to Iowa.  And who knows what other changes are in store.  But with dispersion comes the potential for the phenomenon to spread! 

We managed 7 Debates in 3 Hours.  Each debate being 15 minutes long, we could hypothetically fit more in.  But there must be time for eating, for socializing, for breaks after heated discussions, for summaries.  Pigfests, after all, are about more than the debate segments.  This, the seventh Pigfest I have experienced, witnessed a new invention: the 2 minute debate.  While others were building courage to present their resolutions, or fine-tuning their wording, we did a playful and quick 2 minute discussion of a shorter topic (well…).  During a later break we also enjoyed an enthusiastic discussion of a new type of fan as seen on TV. 

In the end very few people went home alone.  Friends clustered and gathered and ran in the rain, ordered pizza, went to church, hung out till all hours.  And I have no doubt people’s brains are still swimming in the opinions and information and questions introduced during the party.  For my part, my brain is turned on for debating only, and I have been rather scatterbrained about other things ever since. 

To God be all glory.

Tall Elves

Flax flowers, tall and green crowned with sky-blue petals bend beneath the water falling on them, stooped double, dripping and dreary under a summer sky shrouded in grey.  Am I made for such a world where the beauty bows to necessity, where death is such a threat that the glorious sun must be cloaked, life furled? 

I wish I had made these observations while on a walk, but I was driving.  My car was pulling out of my driveway to carry me to the paces just outside of where babies die.  The heart of me resisted, catching its hands on trees and fence-posts, loathe to leave them behind.  A few yards down is a rose garden, and in my mind I shrank…

Paradise.  Shadows and breezes, still and soft and just enough to shed the perfume of the roses across the little green between.  It is like an elven meadow, the little people running about their blissful business – the tallest thing they can see is the living tower of blossoms rimming their country.  No eyes can pass the borders to see the sorrow of our world, the world of mortals.  No tiny heart is troubled like mine, knowing of the suffering and wickedness and death I am about to witness. 

Are elves diminutive or tall?  Those legendary immortals, acquainted with nature and delight, cut off from our world by size, by magic, or by choice?  Tolkien wrote about elves, despising the modern conception of them as petal-sized fairies, who evade human capture and notice by their slightness.  The author’s idea was of a people maybe even taller than men, living in the depths of the forests or across the leagues of the sea.  They were powerful and wise, joyful – and sorrowful.  For Tolkien’s elves could see over the roses.  They witnessed mortality and evil and the changing world, and it was a grief to them. 

Mankind was in a different sort of captivity: not hemmed by fragrant visions of living loveliness.  Their world was the broken, mortal one, saturated with sorrow.  Battlements built high: temptation, pain, guilt, fear – guarded their even seeing something else.  And then they saw the stars.  Ever beautiful and untouched, glittering points in the sky spoke of a joy and purpose beyond the grueling existence through which men plodded.  Faramir tells that men burdened by mortality built high towers and communed with the stars. 

They may have been wrong, seeking something forbidden, discontent with their created lot.  In the Shire lived a different sort of mortal.  They knew fear and death, so they celebrated peace and long life (and birthdays).  Life was too short to simply hoard; they gave away.  In the rural country of the Hobbits there was danger of becoming fat and complacent, gradually surrendering more and more of the fullness of life granted to mortals.  But most didn’t.  They enjoyed things: friends and family, stories, food and drink, walking, gardening. 

Outside the Shire, the Hobbits proved that it was they who had built their country, and not that the simple life of relative ease had birthed their contentment.  Hobbits don’t have courage in tight spots because it is hiding deep inside them; their courage is something exercised every day.  It takes enormous strength to feast when you know the world is dark, to hope when it has been so long since anything happened to encourage you.  Complacency is not hope.  And Samwise Gamgee was not complacent. 

He carried with him the willingness to seize good times.  His eyes grow large with wonder at the hidden elvish cities he visits.  They’re in a gardenous land filled with herbs and wild game just his size, so he stews some rabbit.  And when his quest seems hopeless, he sits on the top stair of an enemy tower and sings about the stars: those beacons of hope anchoring him to a reality he belongs to.  He can’t access it now, but it is no less sure or beautiful because it is far away. 

Above all shadows rides the Sun 
And Stars for ever dwell: 
I will not say the Day is done, 
Nor bid the Stars farewell.

So in the hobbits we have the same spirit as the elves seeing over their flower-hedge, but in reverse.  The elves looked out and what they saw brought grief in – something they would not shrink from, but took and blended with their joy.  And the hobbits looked out and what they saw brought hope, but they took it and blended it with their weariness.  

To God be all glory.

Friday, June 18, 2010


I want to paint, to sculpt, to create.  But my art is words.  So I'm here.  Not writing the ideas I had planned.  Just sharing again.  Being. 

Not feeling much today.  Spent emotion all last week.  The response is still there, inside, deep. 

Babies die and I speak words, numb from the overwhelming inadequacy - from how little my voice effects.  Friends talk and I hear, but I'm not connecting.  Too hard to shoulder their problems today.  Speak truth I know even when I can't think or feel. 

God wants us to love.  Forgive.  Wait.  And He is big enough to do those things in us.  When we don't feel it, don't understand what's happening.

Maybe we'll look back and see His work through us.  Laughter.  This week I've run into people who like me.  And I don't know why.  I shake my head asking God how this happened, that these new intersections in my life are friend-meetings.  And His laughter fills me.  Wasn't I praying for this, that God would overflow me, blessing these people I meet even when I barely know them?  When I wasn't paying attention, when life and death weren't before my face, I didn't know His Spirit was filling me.  Smile dipped in grace painting my world. 

I say life and death wasn't before my face, but I think now that it was.  I take for granted the little things.  Eyes are opening to the spiritual battle.  Two weeks ago I told my brother, "It's strange that there's a spiritual battle, and you can go or not."  The battle is inescapable, war for souls, for joy, for peace, for faith - sometimes a defensive war, building up the weak and welcoming into strongholds.  How frail our hold on faithfulness.  No holidays from being carried by grace. 

And what when the world crumbles around me?  Though I hold tight in prayer, well-guarded by a Mighty Friend, fellow disciples fall, hurt, cry, tire.  Call for back-up and I don't know what to do for them.  Pray more because I'm not just praying for me.  Because I need my God's eyes to guide me where next. 

But the world keeps breaking, prayers not stemming enough the flood of attack.  To pray for a day, fervently, all day, I can manage.  Rebuke my doubt that God won't answer so quickly; He could, you know.  Then He doesn't, and I wonder... and weary... and wane. 

This feels empty, when I'm not winnowing with God.  I ask for help praying, help loving, help persevering.  Can God fill me again, spend me as His servant in these lives I see? 

To God be all glory.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Philippians 4:6-7

We can put it off, the praying
Afraid to make ourselves vulnerable 
To a God who might
Say no.
But when we do pray,
The trust wells up
And knowing the goodness of our God
Brings peace.

To God be all glory.

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary by Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall, and Edmund Weiner

JRR Tolkien reported that he discovered his stories and the world of Middle Earth.  Bilbo’s complaint that Gandalf took him home from the Lonely Mountain by much too direct a route is perhaps a testimony of Tolkien’s own experience with the Hobbit and subsequently the Lord of the Rings.  Even though the legends of the elves were sprawling through Tolkien’s imagination long before either the Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings were published, we know that Lothlorien and Fangorn - and the stories swirling and marching out of them (respectively) – were unexpected developments that Tolkien met as he traveled with Frodo and his companions to the War of the Ring.

To many people, Tolkien’s description of his sub-creation is merely a metaphor for the creative process.  An idea wasn’t in mind before and then unfolds faster than we can write it or say it aloud, as though the whole were in existence before we thought of it.  But for Tolkien, there was more literal (and literary) truth to discovering his characters and stories than I would have guessed.  Especially in the Lord of the Rings, peoples and places were dynamically inspired by meditations on words.

The lore-master of Middle Earth discovered that fantastic age in the associations and nuances of English.  English being only the top level.  He didn’t just borrow an archaic term to sound old or fantastic (as so many pretentious fantasy-novelists do today).  Involved in the study was a lot of Old English, Old Norse, Germanic and even Celtic derivations.  Tolkien hoarded word-mathoms, specimens of language passed around and hidden in old literature, buried in place-names.  Believing that language bore record of a people with creativity, wisdom, and art worth recovering, Tolkien studied and meditated on this vocabulary.  Meanings all-but-forgotten, he restored them, often telling a story in which multiple definitions took living form.  Or if the meaning really was entirely lost, like the purposes of some mathoms, Tolkien upcycled them, making all new but deeply appropriate uses of obscure terms.

One of the easiest examples may be Ent.  In Tolkien’s mythology, Ents are shepherds of the trees, ancient forest-keepers.  They do many things, but most importantly they bring down the corrupted wizard, Saruman, by destroying his stone city, Isengard.  Ent comes from an old English word from which we also get the word “giant.”  The word is also associated with trolls, the large stone-people.  Giants in old mythology were credited with writing the pre-historic epics and constructing the marvelous architecture known to the medieval people only as mysterious ruins.  Tolkien pulled all of these things together in the character and origin of the Ents, and in their stone-dominating assault on Isengard.

Perhaps Lord of the Rings was so successful because Tolkien tapped our own imaginations, our nightmares and our memories, our own ways of talking about those things.  We feel that Middle Earth is part of us because it came from the same places we did.  The Hobbit was nursery-fable, not entirely devoid of the word study that made Tolkien’s other work great, but mostly a hodge-podge of mythology and adventure.  The Silmarillion studied not only the English words and Germanic epics at the root of English and American imagination, but also delved into Greek myths, and more obscure stories (like the Finnish Kaelevala).  The Elvish languages have more to do with Celtic.  All those sources were more remote than the wights and wargs and farthings and elves that resonate with the first audience of Lord of the Rings, the English.

Enormous creativity is required to make stories – especially as complex as Lord of the Rings – out of word definitions and roots.  But it also takes genius to hold so many facts and references in mind at once, seeing comparison and contrast, projecting backwards, remembering how the ancient form of the word was used in some obscure poem.  Thomas A. Shippey’s biography of Tolkien first alerted me to this aspect of his work some years ago, but The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary goes much farther.  A word can be a poem or a story or a mythology or just a really-neat sound.  Tolkien delighted in and brought out all of these.

For more information, look to the Letters of JRR Tolkien and the History of Middle Earth (a series of books containing early manuscripts of Middle Earth stories and also containing glossaries and word-explanations for the languages of middle earth).  I highly recommend that you pick up The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary by Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall, and Edmund Weiner.  It contains over a hundred studies of words either invented or revived by JRR Tolkien or associated with him and his work.

To God be all glory.


I am not a shoe nut.  I don’t buy new shoes as often as I get a paycheck.  My sense of comfort preempts fashion and heels.  Second-hand shoes are ok with me. 

But I am particular.  Not because I believe the world is waiting to see my shoe selection.  I note all the time that many people do shoe and sock and outfit combinations that don’t stand out as awkward, but that I would never do.  If I look down at my feet and the sight is distracting or out of place, I go crazy.  So the socks and shoes I wear are all about me. 

I am pretty simple in my shoe taste.  Basically I need three colors of shoes: Black, White, and Brown.  And in each of these colors, I really do need all the types of shoes I wear.  The one exception is tennis shoes.  So.

We’ll start with boots.  It is the biggest category.  I do not have a pair of white boots.  You have no idea the trouble this causes.  I like to wear skirts, even in winter time.  Boots look good enough with skirts.  But with white skirts and other light colors, solid chocolate browns and midnight blacks draw a little too much attention to my feet.  Never mind this is how ladies in the west managed for centuries (watch a Jane Austen costume drama, or Little House on the Prairie!).  My eyes are peeled for a decent pair of white boots.  Until I find them, I’m settling for freezing my feet in sandals or *cringe* wearing brown boots. 

I do have a nice selection of brown boots.  My favorite pair is shorter but has more of a heel.  However, I wore it 50% of the time for a couple years, so there are a couple issues.  First, the zipper is pulling away from the leg.  Fortunately, I can slip on the boots without unzipping.  Secondly, the heels are so worn that there are holes in them, admitting pebbles so that when I walk, I sound like a rattle.  They remain quite comfortable.  Last year I picked up a replacement pair of brown leather boots that are taller, with less of a heel, but work quite well.  And I actually own a pair of brown sheepskin boots for when it is very cold outside (and when I am so layered in coats and sweaters and scarves that the least of my vanity worries is what my shoes look like). 

Black boots are an issue for me.  I have owned two pairs for some time, involuntarily.  The first are nicer.  Leather.  A small heel.  But inside the lining of the sole is coming up in a most uncomfortable way.  Still, with a thick pair of socks, I can get by just fine.  The other pair of black boots is a half size too small if I wear them with my favorite thick socks.  The pair was, when I purchased them, in better condition than the others, but it scuffed quickly.  Styled like a riding boot, this pair has a near-fatal flaw: the tread is the slipperiest I have ever encountered.  Only slightly more treacherous is a pair of synthetic plush slipper socks.  On tile floors, cement, pavement, sidewalks, I have to resort to a sort of march-step to stay upright.  And on ice (this is Colorado I live in!), I dare not wear them without an ice-pick or railing to hold onto.  So I recently got rid of that pair, lest an overthought leave me with a nasty fall and broken bones.

Now to sandals.  Several years ago I used a Kohl’s gift card to buy a pair of simple white dress sandals.  The heel is probably about an inch and a half.  There is no back to the sandal, and the toes are open.  Easy to slip on, they’re also easy to slip off, and offer no beauty to toes or heels.  My black sandals are also for special occasions: strappy, a solid heel.  Perfect for wearing with a pair of long dress pants.  I don’t remember when I got them, but do know I had them over 5 years ago when I wore them to a theatrical production of Frankenstein, celebrating my friend’s birthday.  In my closet are two pairs of brown sandals.  The first is my favorite, but, like my brown boots, getting worn.  So last year I went to replace them with a similar pair, which was nearly impossible.  Flip-flops and Crocs are both solidly out.  I want a darker brown, with a back.  Covering most of my foot, leaving slits for air.  Buckles are a must.  The sole should not be too thick, and the lining cannot be rubber or plastic or anything sticky.  I ended up buying the replacement pair at a store at the mall.  They’re a size too big, but I intend to wear them in a puddle one day to shrink them…

I have a pair of white flat dress shoes and a pair of black.  These obnoxious things demand I wear hose with them, the most ridiculous apparel invention ever.  They’re uncomfortable, make me cold and sweaty, do almost nothing for looks, are impossible to wash, store, or maintain.  I pull on hose and cause a run, discover a run, or breathe a sigh of relief that there is no run.  Later, once at the formal occasion demanding this torture in the first place, out of the blue I look down and discover a brand new run, which there’s no fixing now!  Long skirts are very practical helps for such things, but cannot help with the shoe dilemma. 

So most of the time I can pull off formal either with boots, sandals, or ballet flats.  These last are my prized footwear.  I have a pair of white, black, and brown.  They’re the prettiest things on my shoe shelf.  First I picked up the white ones.  I searched all over for a season before deciding on them.  By that time I had to order them online from Kohl’s.  They’re lace, all white (no black soles!), canvas-lined, and stay on my feet.  Next I found a pair of brown suede flats at a thrift store.  They have fantastic details of stitching and flower-rosettes.  I wear these usually with socks and pants; the other two pairs of flats are good with pants or skirts, and barefoot.  I’ve had my eye out for black flats for a while.  But I just couldn’t find any.  They had to be mostly black, slip on easily, and have a lining that, like sandals, won’t stick to the bottom of my feet.  Finally, just a month ago, I picked some up at Target, after extensive experimentation in the shoe aisle.  They are not perfectly comfortable (what shoes are the first time you wear them?), but are getting more bearable as I break them in.  They’re on my feet right now.  Slip-on shoes like these are quite popular with me since I started frequenting homes where shoes are left at the door.  Leaving is much easier when you just step into your shoes!

Finally, I have two pairs of tennis shoes.  They’re both blue and white (think blue jeans!), both Sketcher’s.  I’ve had pairs of store brand tennis shoes, and the difference is so noticeable in comfort, that I decided to stick with Sketcher’s.  In the old days I needed a pair of gym shoes with good tread for Awana Games events.  Now that I’m well past high school, I have one pair for outside things like hiking or camping, dirty things like painting and gardening.  And the other is for running around the city, playing in parks with my friends or shopping at the mall (or thrift stores). 

All told, I have 16 pairs of shoes (oh! and one pair of soft gray slippers!).  It isn’t excessive – honest!  That said, I think I could make do with a pair of tenni’s, a pair of sandals, and my new brown boots.  That is if I didn’t have to work as a receptionist, tramp through the snow, or appear at very formal occasions. 

To God be all glory. 

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Israel, Gaza, and the Whole World

Really, I’m going to try to summarize and make a few points.  But Joel Rosenberg has a lot better idea what’s going on, and will give you much more information.  Use his links in this post on the Flotilla Crisis.

If you catch the news at all, you’ve probably heard that a week or two ago Israel boarded some aid ships off the coast of Gaza, which eventually resulted in the death of several of those on board (10) and the injuries of several Israeli Defense Soldiers (5).  Perhaps like me you did not know until this even that there was a blockade of Gaza.  Though I’m not surprised.  There’s always something happening in Israel.  If they’re not fighting, they’re containing, and if they’re not containing, they’re appeasing.  Both appeasing and containing lead to fighting.  It’s the way things go in Israel.

So Israel is surrounded by enemies.  Some are official nations and others are terrorist organizations or individuals.  Many work for the UN.

The closest of Israel’s enemies spend a lot of time and money shooting missiles at Israel, hitting the peaceful civilian population.  This is supplemented by the occasional explosive terrorist attack at a wedding or a bus station or some well-populated place (similar to huge office buildings in downtown New York City).  Citizens of Palestine, and the terrorist armies on the northern border of Israel, too, are supplied with weapons, training, men, and propaganda support by such do-gooders as Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, Al-Qaeda, the PLO…  All of these groups have stated that it is their mission to kill Jews and eradicate Israel.

So Israel has tried a lot of things.  Several years ago they ceded whole tracts of land to the Palestinians as a means of appeasement.  Rather, they used this land to train terrorists and stage their attacks.  The democratic elections put the terrorist group Hamas in control of the Palestinian territory, and anarchy in varying levels ensued.  Bombs keep getting shot into Israeli territory.  This is so commonplace that we in America almost never hear about it.

Recently, Israel got fed up.  They, together with Egypt, announced a blockade of Gaza.  The purpose, of course, is to prevent any more terrorists and their vicious weapons from getting to Israel’s neighbors who keep swearing to blow them to kingdom come.  Israel made it clear that they would allow food and medical supplies, all the humanitarian necessities, into Gaza, as long as the shipments went through Israel so they could be inspected for contraband.  Such deliveries have been made regularly to Gaza since the blockade began.  There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.  Ships were invited to make berth at an Israeli port (not Gaza ones) to deliver the aid.

Without speculating about the motives behind the move, a Flotilla set out from Turkey to run the blockade of Gaza.  This was their open and stated goal.  Passengers on board believed they were going to martyrdom.  But only 10 of them died.

As their “aid ships” neared the coast, Israel sent them a warning.  But the ships proceeded, so Israeli troops boarded them.  One fact mentioned in most accounts is that this took place in international waters, which to the uninformed news connoisseur sounds illegal.  It isn’t.  International laws governing naval blockades read like a manual of Israel’s actions in this confrontation.

Israel brought pistols but didn’t use them until they feared for their lives.  Instead they greeted with paint guns the weapon-holding “peace activists” who waited for them on deck.  All this is on video.  After the peaceful anti-Israelis took the soldiers and began beating them with pipes, throwing them three stories overboard, etc. the troops enforcing the blockade either fled or defended themselves with pistols.  Ten died.  The rest of the 600 activists were arrested, their goods confiscated and searched.  (All but two activists have been released.  The goods were shipped to the border of Gaza where Hamas refused to accept the aid unless Israel would release the final 2 prisoners - citizens of Israel.)

What do the Palestinians want?  If they’re fighting for a homeland, what do they call what they’ve had the past several years, and why expect anyone to trust them with a country of their own now?

Those who condemn Israel are refusing to believe Israel and at the same time accusing Hamas of lying.  Hamas has said what they want.  They want to kill Jews.  They want Israel’s existence to cease.  I believe them.  I just disapprove.

Israel’s peers in the world, friends and enemies, condemned her for her actions.  What would make the world happy?  (Turns out Charles Krauthammer made my exact points.  PLEASE read his article!)

1. They did not want Israel to kill people.
2.  They did not want Israel to prevent the Flotilla from reaching Gaza.
3.  They did not want Israel to blockade Gaza in the first place.
4.  They do not want Israel to wage open war on their enemies.
5.  They want Israel to offer more land for not even promises of peace.
6.  They want Israel to not defend themselves against the terrorists and surrounding nations who have stated a desire to wipe them out.
7.  They want Israel to give all its land to Islamic Terrorists and accept the promised slaughter.

If you put yourself in Israel’s place, I think you’ll have to realize they don’t want to do this.

Biblically speaking, it is in every other person’s and country’s best interests to bless Israel.  To stand against the Jews has a track record of bringing hard times and destruction.  In biblical language, this is called curses.

Genesis 12:1-3, "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."

Finally, many prophecy scholars think that the events taking place these days, particularly world opinion turning against Israel, sounds familiar.  Like maybe these things were predicted in Ezekiel, in Revelation… If that’s true, this would be the worst time ever to be on Israel’s bad side.

To God be all glory.

Open Letter to Aurora Town Center Mall

Our local shopping mall has gone through a transformation in the last several years, as it was bought out by Simon Malls.  That mall group sought to clean up the atmosphere, increasing the security guard presence, enforcing a curfew, and generally discouraging gang activity (which was a problem there in the past).  Included in the directory of stores are Sears, JC Penny, Bath and Body Works, Children's Place, major jewelry stores, and a typical mall food court.  There are also stores that appeal to the Goth's and Emo's and Skaters: stores like Hot Topic, Game Stop, Icing, and Journeys.

If the owners of the Mall wish to welcome both families and urban youth, they need to keep the hallways and food court and restrooms - all the common spaces - neutral.  Additionally, to keep the environment safe, discouraging gang activity, they should facilitate honesty, honor, and respect with their decor and general vibe.  Thus my frustration and disappointment when I encountered a new feature at the Food Court on a visit to Chick-fil-a this spring.  

In keeping with my understanding of the free market, I decided to inform the mall (and Chick-fil-a) why I will no longer be frequenting that location.  I wrote them a letter about a month ago:

"To Aurora Town Center Mall,
This month I was shopping at your mall and decided to have lunch at your food court.  I ordered my food and sat down to eat.  Surrounding the dining area are large TV screens and speakers.  Playing on these were music videos run in a jukebox style, taking requests via text run by the company, Akoo.

Every music video that played in the course of my lunch was morally offensive.  Women were dressed and dancing immodestly and the subject matters were not family-friendly.  I am under the impression that your business is trying to discourage the type of behavior and social atmosphere typified by disrespect of authority and objectifying of women.  To allow individual stores at your facility to carry such merchandise or even play such music I leave to your judgment in creating the retail atmosphere you desire, but the common area of the food court, where mothers bring their children and people like me sit down to eat a quiet meal is not a good place to display the subculture of lust, greed, and violence.  The mall is not a strip club!  Included among your leasers are Bath & Body Works, jewelry stores, Old Navy, JC Penny, Sears, and Dillards!

With the selections of music videos available, it takes but a few zealous texters to flood the requests with undesirable content, inflicting it on the majority of customers, those kinds of customers you, by cleaning up your mall and enforcing strict curfew and conduct rules, are trying to attract.  These upstanding patrons of your facility will be driven away by the offensive and unpleasant experience in your food court.

I am one who has been driven away.  Your food court was one of the main things drawing me to your mall.  I will, from now on, be boycotting all of the businesses in your food court, and will certainly not be visiting that area.  This will continue until I am informed that you have removed the music video feature of your mall.

Please contact me at ***-***-**** to inquire further."

I received a response a few weeks afterwards, not from the Aurora Mall, but from Akoo itself:

"I understand that you had an experience with Akoo, our on-demand entertainment network, and I wanted to provide you with an opportunity to discuss your concerns further.  (Name removed), Assistant Administrrator for Town Center at Aurora, provided me with your contact information through a complaint filed with the mall.  Akoo always welcomes feedback and anything you are willing to provide is greatly appreciated.  We understand your concern and take your complaint very seriously.

First, I want to make it clear that Akoo is a tenant of Town Center at Aurora and the mall managers have no role in selecting the videos that play on our screens.  If you have additional feedback or questions - please do not hesitate to reach out to me so changes can be made.

We at Akoo understand our responsibility to provide entertainment that is "Family Friendly."  I wanted to advise you that, as per Akoo policy, every song and video is rigorously screened before it is allowed to play in participating Akoo Network malls.  Not only do videos come to us pre-rated by the record labels that must adhere to strict parental advisory specifications, each song and video is reviewed by a cross-department committee that includes members from our executive board, senior management team members and myself.  Any Songs or videos deemed anything less than "Family Friendly" are not and will never be available.

What makes things difficult in this process is that there are many things open to interpretation; dancing is by nature sensual and some may view it as sexual or explicit despite context - what one considers scantily clad, another considers more modest than what one might see at a public swimming pool.  This is why we find feedback such as yours so valuable; it allows us to edit our content choices to better suit the communities in which we are installed.

That said -- we will be certain to review all of the songs and videos allowed to play within Town Center at Aurora once again and remove any content that might be less than "Family Friendly."  However, if you know the song title or artist name for the videos that you found inappropriate, I would greatly appreciate receiving that information.

I also would like to point out that, because Akoo is an interactive network which plays music queued up by the shoppers (much like a jukebox) without any charge to them, we have a wide variety of Children's, Contemporary Christian and Oldies tha tyour family might find more suitable.  I encourage you to seek out that content and select it to play in the shopping center.

Please take note of my contact information (enclosed), I would be happy to address any additional questions, comments or concerns that you may have!
Enjoy your day!
(name removed)"

I received two copies of her business card with her cell phone number blacked out with a Sharpie.  The understanding of "family friendly" videos pre-screened by Akoo included markedly sexual dancing (sure dancing can be sensual, but Fred Astaire and Jane Austen are a far cry from the style on their videos), suggestive bedroom scenes, a young woman basically pole dancing, and a young boy singing about making a much older woman "one less lonely girl."  There was no song that visit that did not have sexual themes or suggestions.  

Nor do I find it a pleasant atmosphere where I have to go out of my way to "request" content that I don't find offensive, by sitting down and texting the company my request for Children's, Oldies, or Christian titles.  I can't imagine that a mother of a few children wants to stop feeding them french fries long enough to text a list of songs to the music video service, competing with the sagging-pants, metal-chained youth with nothing to do but thumb their cell phones, sitting across the food court.  

Thus, while I will reply to Akoo with a little more information (I can't even remember the two worst songs while I was there; I was trying so hard to block them out!), the Boycott of the Aurora Town Center Food Court stands.  

I want to encourage you to take action.  Stand up for morality.  Stand up for family values.  Give your business to places that at the very least do not bombard you with offensive content.  And let stores know why you patronize them - or why you don't.  (I wrote a letter.  It's formal, old-fashioned, and indicates you took the time and effort to do more than send a digitally-scannable e-comment.  There have been several cases where I have received positive feedback from companies after my letters, including one radio station that responded to my complaint and thus ended my boycott of them.)

To God be all glory.


It seems to me a good idea for our laws to be based on truth.  If the meaning of “miles per hour” is ambiguous, I would want to find the true definition of miles and hour rather than arbitrarily setting up some other explanation.  No argument about how an accurate definition of miles would infringe my freedom to drive as fast as I wanted should be considered.  We might change the law to increase the speed limit if that is our argument, but we cannot keep the existing law and just lie about what all the words mean.

Personhood is such an issue.  We have a law that guarantees life and due process to all persons.  If we don’t like that law, we can try to change it so that not all persons are so guaranteed.  (That law, incidentally, is based on a moral judgment that murder is wrong.  Many of our laws are enforcement of morality.)  What we cannot do is alter the definition of a person to mean something that it truly does not.  Defining the word “person” to include my rocking chair would be absurd.  Including my pet would be a stretch not intended by those who wrote the law.  Excluding my neighbor with freckles is dishonest.  Saying that my neighbor in the womb is less of a person than me is too arbitrary to be good science or good law.

Some would argue that the truth reflected in our laws should be based on precedent.  This breaks down for a number of reasons.  First, we have the problem of where the very first precedents got their truth.  History does not record an eternal list of precedents.  Secondly, we can point to many court rulings that have been made by liars, self-serving judges who refused to acknowledge the truth.  For example, see the slavery decision Dred Scott.  Finally, precedents can (and sometimes should) be overturned.  The “landmark” ruling that made abortion legal throughout the USA, Roe v. Wade, overturned many state laws that had been in existence for years.  It wasn’t that the question of reproductive rights had never been in court before; this was simply the first time the Supreme Court said abortion was a mother’s “right.”  (I must specify that it was seen as a woman’s right, not a man’s right or a baby’s right – which is important.  Roe v. Wade rests in the supposition that the baby is actually a part of the mother, thus giving her special privileges to end his life.  US law does not give a man the right to decide a mother must abort.  In fact, it will punish those criminals who assault a preborn child.  Nor does the legal system ask the baby, who is demonstrably a separate entity from his mother, whether he wants to be aborted, or acknowledge his right to life.  This is what Personhood seeks to amend.)

Another supposed basis for the truth of our laws is democracy.  What does the majority believe or want?  While our government is set up as a participatory representative system, where the voice of the people influences the leaders making the laws and even at times the laws themselves, this is arguably not the best means for ensuring justice.  The majority has sometimes voted for terrorist governments.  Or for slavery.  Hitler got his first foothold of power through democracy.  A majority of people once believed the world was flat.  We human beings are special, but not powerful enough to mold truth as we wish it was.  Republics like ours, the founding fathers warned us, are only sustainable, only free, if they are comprised of a moral citizenry.  The people must acknowledge a standard outside of themselves, and align with that, for freedom and justice to exist.

Can science be used to decide such a moral and philosophical question as what constitutes life or personhood?  We already have these philosophical terms in our law.  These words have been applied to at least some groups of humanity since the law was written.  No one disputes that the word “person” applies to a large part of humanity (always including the one making the judgment).  And here comes science, demonstrating that there is no significant, meaningful difference between one group of human beings and another.  Science can demonstrate that skin color is not a factor in personhood.  Size does not make person more of a person.  In fact, science can tell us that a human being has the same unique DNA from the moment of conception, at their birth, as they grow from infants to adolescents to fully-formed adults, even as they age and their health declines.

Any lines that have been proposed distinguishing one class of human beings as non-persons have been arbitrary.  Every person needs two things to continue living: nourishment and defense from violence.  The fertilized egg, the single-celled human embryo, needs only these things to develop into an adult.  An infant 1 year of age is still very dependent on his parents for the necessary nourishment and protection.  But given these things, he will grow into a man.  A young woman has to go through puberty to give her the hourglass shape associated with womanhood (and the ability to reproduce).  Where do you draw the line?  Which of these stages begins personhood?

In the history of this debate, the line of personhood has been suggested to begin:

-         at some point after birth when the baby is still dependent on his parents.  (If we draw the line at 3 months, was he less of a human the 24 hours before he was 3 months?  Honestly?)

-         at the first breath of air.  (Are humans receiving CPR or on ventilators not people?  What about the pre-mi’s born and kept alive for months by artificial breathing machines, to be weaned off when their lungs developed fully?)

-         when the baby completely leaves the womb - birth.  (Ten inches decides the identity of a human being?  There have been surgeries performed on preborn babies that involve removing the infants from the womb and then returning them there.  Are they people while out of the womb, then non-people again?  What has changed in the baby?)

-         at viability.  (Come What May, a film produced by the students at Patrick Henry College, makes the point that when we talk about viability, we are talking about viability sustained by human inventions.  Most babies are viable in the womb.  When we talk about viability, though, we disqualify that means of life support and substitute our own.  Man is not better than God at providing a hospitable environment for the youngest among us.  Even aside from that argument, our technology is improving.  A child who was not viable outside the womb 20 years ago might be now.  Nothing changed in the abilities or nature of the children.  We changed.)

-         when the mother can first detect movement – sometimes called “quickening.”  (Some mothers are more sensitive to the movement of their child than others.  Body shape and other factors might contribute to missing the first sensations of motion.  Also, some preborn babies move less or less emphatically than others.  We know from scientific experience that the baby is moving: swimming – from day one when he moves to the uterus!, kicking, waving, turning, changing facial expressions.  Again, this line is not dependent on the nature of the being inside the mother.)

-         at the beginning of biological development – called fertilization or conception.  (At this point a new life is begun.  Already his DNA has determined his features, his gender, his blood type – all of which can be different from his mother’s.  Before this moment, more was needed than nourishment and protection.  After this he will grow at his own body’s initiative and direction.)

All but the last “line” are arbitrary – as arbitrary as me deciding you were not a person because you live in the country, or because your skin is a different color from mine, or because I can whistle and you can’t (actually, I can’t), or worse: if I can’t hear you whistle even when you are.  Science and a bit of logic can recognize that there is no objective difference between adults like us and the kids who are so needy and the preborn.  Draw the line at conception.  Anything else is discrimination.

One more point I’d like to address is the legal objection many put forward.  In most abortion laws, pro-abortion activists push for “exceptions,” when a baby may still be killed.  They say that oh yes, abortion is a tragedy and we want it to be rare.  But surely there are bigger tragedies that abortion could solve: rape, incest, the life of the mother.

Regarding the “life of the mother” exception: our definition of person begins at conception.  It doesn’t end at birth.  This definition includes mothers.  The life of the baby is not, by this truth-reliant definition, more or less important than the mother’s.  Doctors and parents would be legally required to treat that baby as a person, without treating the mother as a non-person.  That’s the answer to the most common “life of the mother” clause.  No exception is necessary in the wording used by Personhood groups, because they affirm the right of the mother to life as well as the right of the baby.

But there are other “exceptions” argued for.  These tragedies are chosen for the exception list emotionally.  Why not include in the list: financial incompetence, household over-population, genetic deformity?  And if you go that far, why not make exceptions for gender, for the mom’s busy career, for her relationship with the father?  I’m not saying that everyone pushing for a few exceptions wants all of these exceptions.  My goal is to make it obvious that to be consistent in their reasoning, they should include all of these exceptions.  In every case the baby is a person.

That’s why I want to finish by asking you a few questions:

-         Is a human being not a person if her father is a rapist?  Is a 3 year old not a person if her father is a rapist?  Do you have less rights if your father was a rapist?

-         Is a human being not a person if his mother gets cancer?  Is a 3 year old not a person if his mom gets cancer?  Do you have less rights if your mother gets cancer?

-         Is a human being not a person if he and his mother are in danger and only one of them can be rescued?  Is a 3 year old not a person if he and his mother are in danger and only one of them can be rescued?  Do you have less rights if you and your mother are in danger and only one of you can be rescued?

To God be all glory.

Thursday, June 03, 2010


My heart hurts tonight.  It is sad for babies dying, especially when their parents kill them.  And I hurt for their parents.  Killing your own children is not good for you.  Nor is it good for me.

And I want to be sad, to feel the reality of the loss.

But today was draining.  There was spiritual warfare today.  I don't think that I gave into temptation (not today), but I feel tired and drained after the fight.  Shaken by the flagrant evil.

Lies abound.  People will lie to your face, even when you just saw the truth with your own eyes.  And those same people are so deceived.


I'm better now, slept long.  French toast in the morning before I got dressed, grey wool sweater pulled close.  Tonight play with kids.  Laugh.  Protect.

God hears prayers.  God...  I need to know Him more.  Trusting Him is hard when I forget who He is.

Talk to you later.

To God be all glory.