Monthly Archives: August 2012

Going to the Dogs: Where Are We Headed if We Ignore the Conflict?

If you look up the phrase “Going to the Dogs” at http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings you will find this interesting entry:

Of course, what originally went to the dogs was … anything decayed and worthless that wasn’t fit for humans, particularly food. This usage was well enough established by the late 18th century for it to have become a metaphorical expression. For example, The London Review of Literature, 1775, included a play called Germanicus, A Tragedy:
“Sirrah, they are prostitutes, and are civil to delude and destroy you; they are painted Jezabels, and they who hearken to ’em, like Jezebel of old will go to the dogs; if you dare to look at ’em, you will be tainted, and if you speak to ’em you are undone.”
Interesting that the phrase has a biblical origin. Jezebel literally went to the dogs for her sins, including an Establishment of Religion in the 400 prophets of Baal she fed at King Ahab’s expense in the days of Elijah the prophet. The question is, are we going to end up on the Elijah side of the Establishment of Religion argument, or on the Ahab/Jezebel side?

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There Are Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing — But Fear Not, Little Flock!

We attended a service where we discussed getting rid of much of the Bible Study material people use today, and focusing on the Bible itself. Our daughter attended a Sunday school where she was very disappointed by the lesson.

“A lot of what he said was loosely based on Scriptures (few biblical references) but when I brought up, ‘but Scriptures say,’ he would respond [with] something along the lines of, ‘Well, that’s true but that doesn’t apply to what I’m talking about,’ and kept putting down my translation, saying its too confusing. He keeps challenging us to go out [to evangelize] but … ” She went on to say that he implied that requiring people to do things that seem necessary for Christian growth is legalism.

Sadly, this is the majority position of those who claim to be believers. They teach the “little flock” in churches, and reaching large numbers has for these preachers and teachers taken the place of faithfulness to the Word of God. It doesn’t matter if the church is small, large, traditional or liberal. The trend seems to be universal across the country. “Doing whatever is necessary” to reach people is more important than holding fast to the truth you are supposed to be reaching them with.

The “wolves in sheep’s clothing” mentioned in the title are the people who want to pick and chose what to believe and what to teach about what the Bible says. They are also the people who study commentaries, spiritual self-help books, and other so-called Christian growth works to the point where they hardly study the Bible itself, or teach it in the churches, anymore.

The speaker we listened to this morning chose 1 Thessalonians 5, concerning the coming of the Lord, as his text. He had a very clear position on it. Yet, in the last few days I (Michael) have had several discussions on Facebook. What does the Bible teach about the future? What is the second death? Who is the antichrist? What does the return of the Lord mean? We have also discussed the more immediate concern of who, according to principles based in Scripture, to vote for to be president.

Many people pointed out that the Scriptures mean what they say, and to take them at face value. The complaints against that position boiled down to, “I don’t want to believe that.” It’s an issue of the will, not the understanding of the words.

Allegorical interpretations of the Scripture go back to Philo and Origen.

Nothing we study should take the place of the Bible. No authority should take the place of the Scriptures; not a pastor, not a priest, not any traditions. We should not love a family member above God’s truth. Nothing should detract from glorifying God. We should not let anyone tell us parts of the Bible should be ignored. We don’t get to pick and chose what is authoritative.

When do you stop judging the Bible and let the Bible judge you?

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Was Thomas Paine the Founding Father of Secular Humanism in America?

This is an excerpt from Chapter Five of Antidisestablishmentarianism.

Benjamin Franklin might have remained his friend, yet he said concerning the publication of works like The Age of Reason,

“I have read your manuscript with some attention. By the argument it contains against a particular Providence, though you allow a general Providence, you strike at the foundation of all religion. For without the belief of a Providence that takes cognizance of, guards, and guides, and may favor particular persons, there is no motive to worship a Deity, to fear his displeasure, or to pray for his protection. I will not enter into any discussion of your principles though you seem to desire it. At present I shall only give you my opinion that … the consequence of printing this piece will be a great deal of odium [hate] drawn upon yourself, mischief to you, and no benefit to others. He that spits into the wind, spits in his own face. But were you to succeed, do you imagine any good would be done by it? … Think how great a portion of mankind consists of weak and ignorant men and women and of inexperienced, inconsiderate youth of both sexes who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to support their virtue. … I would advise you, therefore, not to attempt unchaining the tiger, but to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person. … If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it? I intend this letter itself as a proof of my friendship.”

Thomas Paine was a bitter, caustic critic of Christianity and organized religion of any kind. He clearly saw the corruption of the Established Religion but he rejected truth and the Scriptures as coming from God himself. He saw the Bible as concocted by the organized church. He denounced many state constitutions for claiming to be tolerant but being tolerant only of Christianity, and attacked the authority of Scriptures repeatedly. Although his ideas have existed for centuries, Thomas Paine was the founding father to whom Secular Humanists look back to justify most of their beliefs and ideas. Secularists today loudly echo Thomas Paine’s views on Christianity.

“No falsehood is so fatal as that which is made an article of faith.”

“Of all the tyrannies that afflict mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst. Every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in, but this attempts a stride beyond the grave and seeks to pursue us into eternity.”

“What is it the New Testament teaches us? To believe that the Almighty committed debauchery with a woman engaged to be married; and the belief of this debauchery is called faith.”

“The Bible: a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind.”

“The Christian system of religion is an outrage on common sense.”

“It has been the scheme of the Christian church, and of all the other invented systems of religion, to hold man in ignorance of the Creator, as it is of government to hold him in ignorance of his rights. The systems of the one are as false as those of the other, and are calculated for mutual support.”
“Priests and conjurors are of the same trade.”

“Jesus Christ, … at once both God and man, and also the Son of God, celestially begotten, on purpose to be sacrificed, because they say that Eve in her longing … had eaten an apple.”

“The Church was resolved to have a New Testament, and as, after the lapse of more than three hundred years, no handwriting could be proved or disproved, the Church, which like former impostors had then gotten possession of the State, had everything its own way. It invented creeds… and out of the loads of rubbish that were presented it voted four to be Gospels, and others to be Epistles, as we now find them arranged.”

“Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon that the Word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.”

“As to the Christian system of faith, it appears to me as a species of atheism — a sort of religious denial of God. It professed to believe in man rather than in God. It is as near to atheism as twilight to darkness. It introduces between man and his Maker an opaque body, which it calls a Redeemer, as the moon introduces her opaque self between the earth and the sun, and it produces by this means a religious or irreligious eclipse of the light. It has put the whole orbit of reason into shade.”

“The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion.”

“Yet this is the trash that the Church imposes upon the world as the Word of God; this is the collection of lies and contradictions called the Holy Bible! this is the rubbish called Revealed Religion!”

“The continually progressive change to which the meaning of words is subject, the want of a universal language which renders translation necessary, the errors to which translations are again subject, the mistakes of copyists and printers, together with the possibility of willful alteration, are of themselves evidences that the human language, whether in speech or in print, cannot be the vehicle of the Word of God. The Word of God exists in something else.”

“The fable of Christ and his twelve apostles, which is a parody on the Sun and the twelve signs of the Zodiac, copied from the ancient religions of the Eastern world, is the least hurtful part.”

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Review of Prince of Persia the Movie

This is a review of the recent movie Prince of Persia starring Jake Gyllenhaal, not the video game series. WARNING! There are spoilers, since this is an older movie, but if you want to watch the movie first, go ahead. Then come back and read this. In the light of our current political situation and the country’s economic troubles, I think the desert dwellers’ philosophy is especially worth remembering.

1. Prayer and holy things are treated with respect and there are serious consequences for mistreating them. Even though it’s a religion with false elements, both the princess and the king are shown to be strong and respected leaders because they pray and honor what they believe is holy.

2. Dastan could have been portrayed as a drunk or a womanizer when he was absent from the call to the conference about the proposed attack. But he was instead testing his fighting skills and winning his men’s respect and love by spending time with them and even letting them clean his clock.

3. The princess could have been sold into sexual slavery. Despite the skimpy outfit, she merely became a waitress.

4. The desert dwellers could have been running a bloody arena. Instead they held ostrich races. And by the way, they said they didn’t pay taxes because they didn’t believe they should support a government which wanted to steal all they had and kill them. Simple, sound political wisdom in my book.

5. Time travel worked, for once, and was limited in scope and importance. The evil uncle wanted the dagger for a single purpose Dastan was able to discern. Dastan used the dagger for good reasons, and respected the limitations and dangers once he understood them. He was also willing to risk death and even failure to make things come right, relying on his brother’s character to do the right thing as well.

6. Family love, honor and trust where essential elements of the story. Dastan would never be king, but he never sought his own advancement. He was horrified to think his uncle would throw away a home, a family and love for selfish ambition.

7. A black man, a minor character, was given a role of extraordinary importance and showed incredibly noble character without making a point of being a black man. I dare anyone to dismiss him as a “magic negro.” He trained and prepared, developing unsurpassed skill and performed a vital service no one else could do.

8. Dastan went right back to the point where he still had to make a choice about doing what was right. The city had fallen, yes, but the important choices were still to be made, the real wrong still to be righted and prevented. And he didn’t even hesitate.

9. The princess had to stop lying and tell the complete truth before she could get the help she needed. 10. The uncle is a Satan figure. He realizes the mistake he made by saving his brother’s life in the past. The devil realizes he a mistake by the death of Christ. Both want to go back and change the past to
increase their power.

On the downside,

1. People still have to “trust their feelings” to make fundamental decisions and “search their hearts” instead of the Scriptures.

2. The flood history is indeed butchered again. Especially because Noah wasn’t chosen for his purity but because of God’s grace, and because the “salvation” for the people in the movie was conditional upon future behavior or somebody innocent would have to pay.

3. “Gun control” rules in the sacred city because there are no weapons forges. Peace depends on taking away people’s right to bear arms.

4. The princess confuses sarcasm and feminism with spunk and leadership and tries to lie to get her way.

5. Lots of reasoned deception and “peasant cunning” prevailing over straightforward honesty.

6. “I believe we make our own destiny.” No, we don’t, and frankly the movie proves the opposite point, since Dastan is rewarded for obedience and hard work, loyalty, perseverance and courage in the responses of everyone he interacted with, not for his rebellion against the way things were going.

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Guest Post by Dana Pratola for her new Release — Descended — Jett

DESCENDED ~ Jett

 

BLURB:

He has no wings or halo, but he’s an honest-to-goodness hero. …And his lineage is quite impressive.

When a reclusive businessman takes an interest in Haven’s artwork, she knows it’s an answer to prayer. But Jett Cestone is an enigma with a disconcerting connection to the young women in his employ. He’s by far the most unusual man she’s ever met.
Haven is the most interesting woman to ever cross Jett’s path. But she’s too naïve and pure to learn what goes on in his home. Too bad he wants her more than he’s wanted anyone or anything in his life.

 

 

EXCERPT:

 

Haven was still thinking of Jett two hours later as she applied her makeup in an upstairs bathroom. Unlike the one in her room, this one had a large mirror that swung out from the wall.

“Why do you wear that stuff on your face?”

Haven’s hand jerked, dragging a stripe of eyeliner across her temple. She ground her teeth.

“I apologize.”

“I could have poked my eye out! And you aren’t supposed to look in the bathroom when I’m in here.” She wiped away the smudge with a corner of tissue.

“These are not your quarters, and the door is open,” Jett answered. “So, why do you paint yourself up like that?”

“It’s a mask.” She threw the answer out flippantly, but knew it was the truth.

“What are you hiding?”

She shrugged. “I guess the real me, same as you.”

“You don’t hide the real you.” Annoyance tinged his voice. “You’re the most open person I’ve ever met.”

Haven set down the pencil and shifted her feet. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.” He didn’t answer and she sighed. “I guess I wear it out of habit. Growing up, girls are told they need to be thinner, prettier, sexier. It sticks with you. The world isn’t a very encouraging place. I just want the outside to be more appealing.”

“You couldn’t be more appealing.”

She hesitated, blinking while her skin heated. “Thank you.”

Jett cleared his throat, evidently as surprised by the compliment as she. “So where are you going, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“A movie, then dinner. You know, traditional.”

“This is a date, then?” Bewilderment and a definite touch of hostility colored his voice now.

The guilt was back, the same niggling self-reproach she encountered every time she thought of Chris and Jett in the same timeframe. “Yes.”

“And is this the young man you were with the night Paris went missing? The charming Christopher Andrew Pembroke?”

Haven turned to see him, which of course she couldn’t. “Don’t you respect anyone’s privacy?”

“I’m concerned.”

“You’re nosy. You could only have found that out by poking your nose in where it doesn’t belong. He isn’t an employee. And how did you know his full name? I didn’t even know it.”

“There is much you don’t know. Shall I enlighten you?”

“Don’t you dare!” She jabbed a finger in the air. “And I mean it!” She took a deep breath, gripping the front of the vanity with both hands. “Is there going to be a problem if he wants to come in when he brings me home?”

“Problem?”

“Yes. You said I could have people here. Are you are going to behave yourself and keep out of my business?”

“What you do with your date is your affair. I won’t intrude.”

She smacked a hand on the counter. No matter what he said, she could tell his teeth were clenched. “You aren’t my guardian or my husband. You have no right to try to make me feel guilty for seeing a nice guy. I’m not going to sleep with him—and if I were,” she added quickly, “it would be none of your business. You and I are friends.”

“Is that what we are, Haven? Friends?” His words rang with a peculiar strain.

She swallowed. “Sure.”

“Very well. But if you think you can feel free to express to me your desire for another man, I hate to disappoint you. Our friendship will never extend that far.”

Emotions were escalating, his and hers, and she seemed unable to help it. “Great, just great.” She should shut up, but she shouted instead, arms flailing. “A friendship with conditions. Great. Tell you what? Why don’t you take your friendship and—”

“Ah, ah, ah. Don’t say something you’ll regret.” His voice held a clear warning.

Haven stopped and dropped her hands in surrender. “You’re right. So with that in mind…” She swung the bathroom door closed with a satisfying bang.

 

BIO:

Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. He is merciful and gracious and loves me beyond all human reason. He’s blessed me with a wonderful husband and three dynamic kids, and we all live in a shoe in New Jersey. (Just seeing who’s paying attention, lol)

God gave me a passion to write Christian Romance. Not the kind with a woman buttoned to the neck and a man daring no more than to hold her hand, but the contemporary kind. These books don’t contain explicit sex scenes, but my characters have real desires, struggles and choices to make.  A lot of the time they make the wrong ones.  No subject is prohibited but good always triumphs.

 

Sales link:

http://www.amazon.com/DESCENDED-~-Jett-ebook/dp/B008W2NPUA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1344700612&sr=8-1&keywords=descended+dana+pratola

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Pride and Prejudice and Scientific Honesty

A number of more modern scientists strive to maintain the integrity of their profession in the face of much dishonesty on the part of committed Secular Humanists. University of California Professor of Psychology Stanley Sue believed that it was essential to avoid the common secularist redefining of the word “theory” into “fact,” as Richard Dawkins frequently does when speaking of Evolution. Sue instead demanded that the bias so evident in secularist dogma be avoided.
“Scientific skepticism is considered good. … Under this principle, one must question, doubt, or suspend judgment until sufficient information is available. Skeptics demand that evidence and proof be offered before conclusions can be drawn. […] One must thoughtfully gather evidence and be persuaded by the evidence rather than by prejudice, bias, or uncritical thinking.”
Richard Feynman, 20th century physicist, apparently had no use for skewed data and the common practice of simply burying contradictions to theories being researched. He cautioned scientists to be thoroughly honest in their work by including supporting and contrary evidence and anything discovered along the way that might advance knowledge.
“If you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid — not only what you think is right about it; … You must do the best you can — if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong — to explain it. … Those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; …The idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.”
When scientists ignore this commitment to honesty, they fall into the same trap that Isaac Asimov did. Claiming to speak as a scientist, he rightly invoked the word “inspired” to express his baseless but religiously held beliefs. “We can make inspired guesses, but we don’t know for certain what physical and chemical properties of the planet’s crust, its ocean, and its atmosphere made it so conducive to such a sudden appearance of life…” Although he appears to be humbly admitting science’s limitations, Asimov is in fact dishonestly claiming that when a scientist guesses, it is like ordinary people stating facts. Notice that instead of allowing for the possibility of a creative act by God, he assures us that all that happened was a “sudden appearance” of life made possible by natural conditions.
In the novel Pride and Prejudice, an unscrupulous man plays on social prejudices to advance his own position just as many secularists advance their “scientific” theories. He pretends humility while providing supposed evidence for theories people already hold. Jane Austin said, “Nothing is more deceitful … than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.” Those who misuse science frequently advance the “scientist’s” own reputation without presenting sound science or true knowledge. “Carelessness of opinion” is almost a watchword for those who feel free to advance any belief and call it science, and frequently they receive applause when they should be greeted with healthy skepticism.
Today the observations and measurements of the physical world must support the established religion of Secular Humanism. “Carelessness of opinion” expressed by their celebrity pseudo-scientists along with their “inspired guesses” must be given as much weight as facts. Its adherents of course, deny this. They loudly denounce the corruption of the Church-State union and insist they are pure of such entanglements.
John W. Draper, 19th century American physician and photochemist, claimed that “Science has never sought to ally herself with civil power. She has never subjected anyone to mental torment, physical torment, least of all death, for the purpose of promoting her ideas.” While asserting that theists are invariably corrupt and violent, he deflects attention from the hand-in-glove relationship of secularists with the courts resulting in the bombarding of schools and government institutions with lawsuits demanding removal of any hint of religious mention in the name of “separation of church and state.”

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The Prime Directive

In 1971 the world was introduced to the Tasaday, a group living in the rainforests of Mindanau in the Philippines. At the time the small group was presented as a stone-age tribe, subsisting nearly naked in caves in a hunter-gatherer style and possessing a unique language. Subsequent studies have caused some to doubt whether these people were “real,” or a hoax manufactured for political purposes by the Marcos government. Clearly they were widely publicized in a day when people were looking for unspoiled, peaceful people living in harmony with nature against the backdrop of war in Vietnam. Some believe their reality was falsely discredited when political conditions turned against Marcos and it became “necessary” to claim that everything Marcos touched was corrupt.

This tribe may have been real or a hoax. Some even believe the truth lay somewhere in between, that  they were in fact “corrupted” by their contact with the outside world and their pristine culture “spoiled” by metal tools and tee shirts. What matters is that an important philosophy came out of the incident, something akin to the TV series Star Trek’s “Prime Directive,” the order not to interfere with a developing culture or species. When the BBC denounced the Tasaday as a hoax, at the close of the
article was included this statement.

“The Tasaday Hoax led many anthropologists to reconsider how they deal with indigenous tribes. It is a situation full of dilemmas. Anthropologists are often faced with situations where members of the tribe they are studying die on a regular basis from easily curable diseases. But administering medicine may be the first step toward the loss of a culture. Many tribes actually express desire to become more technological. Anthropologists usually pressure them not to do so. One Brazilian indigenous tribal chief,
after hearing such a recommendation, is quoted saying, ‘Do they think we like not having any clothes? It may be the way of our ancestors, but the bugs bother us…’ Should tribes like these be exposed to the modern world? There are no easy answers.”

It seems as if “civilized” man has not changed much from Darwin’s day. He prefers to stand back and stare in awe at primitive man, whether to be horrified or to be mesmerized, rather than realize primitive man is just man, not a link with a simpler species or a better culture. People used to think the Australian Aborigines or African blacks were a link in the evolutionary chain and used this to justify outrageous bigotry. Now they just believe “primitive” is better. Perhaps it is better, if these “savages” know enough to want to learn about medicines to help them live and to wear clothes to protect them. How is it civilized to deny lifesaving technology and basic comfort for the sake of preserving what the people themselves don’t like and don’t want to preserve? And even more reprehensible, this philosophy justifies denying people the right to hear of Christ and the Scriptures.

Our civilized modern culture has grasped this lesson very clearly and seeks to impart it to those of us who might not yet have understood it. One episode of Star Trek the Next Generation shows the “correct” handling of such a situation. Scientists had a technological “duck blind” enabling them to study a “Proto-Vulcan” race without being seen. The “cloaking” device failed and in such a way that a native man not only saw the scientists but also was critically injured. The Enterprise crew saved his life and
tried to erase his memories of the incidents to avoid “contamination.” The memory wipe failed and he conceived from his fragmented recollections that a god called “The Picard” (The captain of the Next Generation Enterprise is named Picard) had brought him back from the dead and needed to be worshiped. He led some of his people into a fanatical, violent cult based on this belief.

The catch was that these people had already “evolved” beyond belief in gods, according to the people studying them. The point of the episode was that this belief in a god had to be disproved, because it was based on a misunderstanding of the “fact” that miracles were only the acts of ordinary mortal beings with greater skills and technology. Once this was made clear to the Proto-Vulcans they were able to go back to their atheism with the warm glow of knowing that they could become just like the people they
had been foolish enough to mistake for gods.

The message is unmistakable. The woman who leads the tribe has already stated all the steps in the process of her people’s “evolution” from primitive to civilized, cave dwelling to hut-dwelling, pagan to atheist. She is the one chosen as “advanced” enough to understand the message and she gets it right away. We get it too. Man evolves from primitive to advanced and part of being advanced is giving up the “need” for gods which must be fictitious anyway. Anyone who believes in gods is a wild-eyed,
fanatic who has to shoot somebody with a bow and arrow before he can be straightened out.

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