"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

PETA Fauxpas

Fox News reported another of PETA’s tactless public attacks on anybody who chows down on anything but a vegan meal. If that term seems foreign, a vegan is someone who will not eat any flesh or byproducts of animals. That includes eggs, milk products, honey, animal fat, or gelatin.
The ad campaign features … well, here’s a picture of the billboard they hope to erect on or near Florida’s Anna Marie Island, where a young man nearly lost his leg to a shark while diving.
Among the gems of disinformation PETA has published are such statements as, “Americans kill twelve billion fish annually for food.” Truth is, although we may consume twelve billion fish annually (a statistic of dubious authority), Japan and a few other nations are also in on the crime of harvesting and packaging those poor, misunderstood critters. And that begs another question: What is PETA to do about the vast, unstemmed cruelty that fish perpetrate against one another. Fish consumption by humans pales in comparison.
Observe the great white shark pictured on the proposed billboard. How does a shark feasting on a human constitute payback for humans eating fish? Few people eat sharks. Show instead, an albacore tuna eating a human; now that would be payback. But wait, tuna don’t eat people.
The PETA spokesmodel also said, “People have the choice to be kind every time they sit down to a meal,” inferring that eating meat or fish or … is somehow unkind. As far as I know, few carnivorous people consume living, conscious, animals. If the entrĂ©e isn’t aware it’s being consumed, how is that unkind? No doubt they are referring to the inhumane practices of meat processors, and PETA has a point there.
Without polling PETA membership as to their religious persuasion, one gets the idea they see humans not as God’s special creation, but as just another animal produced by impersonal evolution. If they choose to believe I’m having Aunt Bessie for dinner tonight at Sizzler, that’s their business, and if they get their jollies practicing their vegan lifestyle, more power to ‘em.
I admire those who personally practice their convictions diligently. Even more so when said convictions pass the hypocrisy test. Here’s what I mean: PETA-type folks generally support abortion, and advocate using murdered preborn human remains for medical research involving stem cells. So, granting them the argument that humans are just another form of animal life, how is using human flesh any less cruel than using animal flesh? After all, research has proven that late-term fetuses feel pain the same as peopof all ages, and strong evidence exists that even younger preborn humans feel pain.
Is butchering preborn humans alive somehow more ethical than eating animals? Lets start up a nonprofit called PETPH (People for the Ethical Treatment of Preborn Humans). But, that won’t work. PETPH doesn’t flow off the tongue as easily.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Life's Delusions

They say, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” That adage proves true more often than not, but with a qualifier; it’s dangerous only when the knower knows less than he thinks he knows. Which, if we think about it, is most often.
Another way to express that old saw is, “The delusion of knowledge is a dangerous thing.” A thirsty, desert wanderer can convince himself that the optical illusion of water in the distance is quite real. He clambers to his feet and expends all his remaining strength running, stumbling, toward the inviting sight. As he draws closer to the mirage, however, he learns more about it, until eventually he falls face first into the parched, desert sand, waiting for the vultures to finish him off.
Not the most cheerful of scenarios, but delusions can indeed be fatal in one way or another. Think of cousin Dorcus, who felt perfectly comfortable in his bathtub full of water, so he figgered he had this swimming thing aced. When he hit the water after leaping from that rock on the lake shore, it didn’t take him long to realize that lakes and bathtubs are two very different things, even though there’s water in’em both. Remember how the preacher had a hard time keeping a straight face at the memorial service? He just couldn’t quit thinking of how Dorcus had been the stupidest know-it-all he’d ever tried not to know.
We all know people who suffer delusions of various sorts. Trouble is, they usually aren’t the ones who wind up suffering. Have you ever noticed how convinced they are of their rightness?
This is the first of a series of posts intended to deal with life’s delusions. If only dealing with them in fact were as easy as writing about dealing with them. But we’ll do our best to keep a clear head and a straight face through this whole ordeal. Deal?

Monday, September 19, 2011


This film was incredibly credible, which is what kept me watching, though many scenes nearly forced me to look away. And that is why I would never allow youngsters to view it.
Exactly how accurate the details were, I have no way of knowing. Mel Gibson’s exhaustive research certainly made it seem authentic. But the joy, the love, the humor, the fear, the pain, the desperation, the whole gamut of emotion felt real and left me stirred.
Apocalipto reminded me how sheltered I am from life's raw cruelty; if it is not inflicted by a sadistic executioner or a hungry jaguar, plenty of savagery exists throughout what we euphemistically call "civilization." And it is ample evidence of what theologians call, "The Human Condition."
Humanity reputedly occupies the top branch of the evolutionary tree. We're tops in brutality, lustfulness, meanness, and greed, with religion contributing more than its share, as Apocalipto richly illustrates. If I weren't a Christ-follower, I'd be an atheist.
Please note that I did not use the generic term, Christian. During the first century, Jewish authorities coined the word as a pejorative term meaning “Little Christ.” But those branded by that term considered it the highest tribute, even when it meant their death by torture. Slowly, its use gained social approval until to be called “a Christian man” or woman became a tribute to ones high character.
That was then, but now it means “hypocrite,” or worse, to the many who have experienced betrayal at the hands of self-proclaimed Christians. But I digress.
To reveal that the end of the film brought with it the arrival of Spanish explorers will not spoil the story in the least. It is only appropriate to conclude the film’s depiction of pagan cruelty by introducing the next phase of religious inhumanity: Christendom!
Oh, but you may have it all wrong. I’m not anti-Christ at all. It’s just those who presume to build religions around God’s holy Son that put me off. Those whose religiosity keeps people away from Him will experience a major disappointment when they realize on which side they stand, when before Him in judgement. Apocalipto is nothing, compared to the perdition awaiting them. I only pray that my own religious practices won’t place me with them.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Brother Jonah

In Jonah's brief prayer from the great fish's belly, he began with what appears to be a self-righteous proverb against idolaters. Yet, it was even more a confession of his own idolatry; of asserting his own will over God's. Regardless what it seems, this prayer must be a confession of his own sin, as the next verse is a promise of thanksgiving sacrifice, which he could not perform without first having confessed his sin and repented of it.
Is this a true, Biblical principle, or is it only applicable to the Old Testament? If it is the former, today's church needs to tremble in fear of judgment, as idols abound among the brethren; idols of religion, materialism, pride, sectarianism. Many in today's church--myself included--are guilty of Jonah's sin; which is refusing to minister to the dregs of society, the down-and-outers whose excesses have defeated them, and yet they desperately cling to "the hair of the dog that bit them." Those are people for whom Jesus died, and yet the very depravity that confines them repulses the good Christians whose commission it is to love them to the Savior.
Yes, today's Church stands proudly in guilt of Jonah's sin, not deigning to dirty themselves on those who need to see Christ's love in action.
  Isaiah spoke for the Eternal One about meaningless religious observances: "Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, 'Here I am.' If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in. "If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken." (Isaiah 58:6-14 ESV)
  The apostle James added the New Testament post script to this prophesy: If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:26-27 ESV)
  What did James mean by, "Keep oneself unstained from the world?" Are we to avoid getting close enough to sinners that they might contaminate us? As we do that, we allow the world's materialistic values to saturate our lives.
  We conservatives glibly reject the social activism we witness among liberal Christendom as simply a "social gospel." And how do we impact the world for Christ? Those of us who bother trying, thump our Bibles at the world's sinners, condemning them to perdition for not living as we Good Christians do.
  Jesus had quite a lot to say about the religious hypocrites of His time--none of it good. Are we doomed to repeat their sin, and their condemnation? Not if we breathe deeply of God's word for our own health, before we try using it on those we wouldn't have at our dinner tables.
  We will be Jonah's brethren one way or the other; either in shirking our Great Commission responsibility, or in our repentance and ultimate obedience.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Initial Singularity

It seems that when scientists reach a stage in their theorizing that points toward the existence of a god-like entity, they switch tracks to pursue alternative theories. What motivates their aversion to the idea of an all-pervasive entity outside our frame-of-reference?
The answer is fear. Fear that we might be somehow “less-than” something or someone else. Our experience tells us that being “less-than” allows whatever is “greater-than” to establish a “pecking order,” with the “greater-than” entity(God) at the top, and the “less-than” entity(us) at the bottom.

Don't Just Do Something ... PANIC!

All fear boils down to anxiety over the unknown or unforeseeable. We plan and plot to control present circumstances so that they will likely produce some predictable, future circumstance. The more effective we perceive our efforts to control our circumstances, the less we fear what is beyond the veil of time.
What such control freaks fail to realize, though, is the vast range of possible circumstances that we cannot anticipate and prepare for. With that realization, we look at the alternative to preparing for the future: We decide the future will happen, and we can do absolutely nothing about it. And our only recourse to maintain sanity is to believe it doesn’t matter anyway. That solution, in pop-psychological terms, is called “denial,” the alternative to PANIC!

I Get a BANG out of Science

Short of exploring really confusing genesis scenarios, the best and brightest minds have settled on the Big Bang as the beginning of everything. The benefit of that is, a naturalistic explanation of our existence enables us to place ourselves firmly at the top of the natural pecking order. And Presto Change-o, we’re no longer answerable to anyone but ourselves.
Such cosmic autonomy is the dream of every child who runs afoul of parental control ... regardless of the “child’s” age or the “parental” authority figure’s identity. Those of us with average intelligence simply resort to bucking authority and suffering the consequences, until we decide life is less painful if we cooperate.
Those who are smart enough to earn the lofty title, “Scientist,” however, can do something creative about the accountability conundrum. All they have to do is go to school long enough to learn how other brilliant people have logically sidestepped the issue. Then they keep studying until they think they’ve worked out those other brilliant people's theoretical bugs, and they might even qualify for a Nobel Prize, which proves they were right ... till some other bright person proves them wrong and wins a Nobel for themselves.

A Rose By Any Other Name...

Some of the most enterprising scientists have invented a term for the beginning of everything: The “Initial Singularity” supposedly occurred billions of years ago, when all the matter and energy of the universe existed in one nearly infinitesimal point of nearly infinite mass. Then some passing—whatever—dropped one more teensy bit of matter into it and all HECK broke loose!
But, where did all that mass come from? Other enterprising scientists are working on that, and postulating the most wonderful theories, such as recurring BIG BANGs every few billions of years, where stuff goes out, and comes back in, then goes back out, and comes back in, ad infinitum. Or maybe membranes comprising various universes bump into one another and go BANG!, and stuff goes out, and comes back in, then goes back out, ad nauseam.
To the not-especially “objective eye(which, in truth, does not exist),” all this postulating appears suspiciously like grasping for excuses to avoid accepting accountability to something or someone greater than mankind. And most especially, something or someone infinitely greater.
Imagine a “causation” of sufficiently large scale to cram nearly-infinite matter into a nearly-infinitesimal spot....

I get a BIG BANG out of God!

I marvel at all the pseudo-scientific razzmatazz that smart folks shovel into the scholarly literature, and ultimately into our educated pea-brains, to explain what has no explanation outside of an infinite, Creative Force. And heaven forbid we should attach a Name to it, and imagine its being conscious, personal, and purposeful.
Despite all the argument going on between religious folks about how creation happened, most of them agree on one thing: It didn’t just happen. In fact, we don’t necessarily have to be religious to see that; the evidence is obvious and inescapable. Naturalists accuse deists of employing faith to accept God's existence. Personally, I haven’t enough faith to imagine the universe existing outside of His creative power.
Did God personally engineer every minute aspect of creation and micro-manage it to the present? Or did He place all that would be into one immense blast that brainy people call the Initial Singularity? Only God knows for sure, but we can get a good idea of His purpose in it.
He didn’t leave us to simply thrash it out in our own imaginations. Though many choose to ignore it, God dictated a book to several people whom He chose to record it, over thousands of years. What they wrote defies mortal imagination, containing within a finite number of words, God’s infinite mind, and His singular purpose.

Thursday, September 08, 2011


Confession time: I was a Glenn Beck basher. Lacking cable TV at home, I’d half-heartedly watched his program on the TV at Perkins Restaurant, but they had the sound muted so I can’t really say I listened to him. I read some of the captioning the Fox network thoughtfully provided, but not enough to pick up any continuity. Often I looked up at the screen to read a caption that could have come from Limbaugh or one of the other talk-show entertainers. Because of my “in depth” analysis of Beck’s spiel, I tagged him in my mind as another knee-jerk, right-wing...well...jerk.
This evening, however, I happened to find a YouTube video showing him extolling our nation’s Founding Fathers, including 18th-century preacher George Whitefield. And I listened. Beck stood there in my flat-panel monitor actually making sense!
Was this an isolated moment of lucidity for him? To answer that question I watched other YouTube videos featuring Beck. At times he overstates for effect. And at times he understates for effect. I’m sure Beck would take exception to this, but to me he seemed quite similar to Savage, Limbaugh, O’Reilly, and several other talk-show entertainers. These people all rely on ratings. Where do ratings come from? From polling John Q. Public and all his cronies. How does a media personality get J.Q.P. and his friends to watch? By presenting entertainment. And very little is more entertaining than outrageous prattle, unless it’s wrestlers bad-mouthing one another or football players breaking each others’ heads.
Tragically, those examples illustrate the debauched state of our popular culture. At least this little tangent I’ve pursued introduced me to George Whitefield’s concise, tell-it-like-it-is preaching. Maybe if we had another Whitefield preaching, as he did, to people other than the choir, we’d see spiritual revival on the scale of The Great Awakening that fueled thirteen British colonies’ struggle for freedom.
And maybe if we who call ourselves Christ-followers quit spouting Evangelical slogans at each other and took time to listen to God’s word through His Holy Spirit for a change, we would indeed be ready to work for a change.