You won’t find a group with which you can agree on everything. And even if you did, that just means that you are wrong about the same things.–kmv
Monthly Archives: April 2012
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones. –Albert Einstein
If the man doesn’t believe as we do, we say he is a crank, and that settles it. I mean, it does nowadays, because now we can’t burn him. –Mark Twain
In the midst of my reading Thoreau’s Walden, I get my income tax refund. That’ll keep me from splurging…
Now, where are those bills? Fuel, kids’ teeth, and kids’ trips to the doctor. Hoping to wedge in a new pair of glasses for me onto the expense list, profligate wastrel that I am. I fear this is the year when I can’t fake enough of the letters on the driver’s license test and have to start wearing my specs to drive.
Which raises the question: with all the people texting while driving, shouldn’t some of ’em be wearing bifocals for that?
My son did his first tax return this year, took him all of thirty seconds to understand that the government was giving him back the money they borrowed from him, not sending him a gift. Why does it take other people so long to figure that out?
I only work on this excuse for a blog when I happen to have the convergence of a WiFi hotspot and my handy laptop and a power outlet, as my handy laptop’s battery lost its will to live some time ago. In a bow to Moore’s Law, the battery which my Compaq needs costs more than the whole computer is worth. SO… since any fool would know this means I need a new computer, I do NOT get one. No, contrarian that I am, I hold stubbornly to this increasingly obsolete folding magic box, hoping to wring every last bit of use out of it before we both wind up in the landfill. Ken and Brent and Alison, I’m getting all I can out of your investment!
Such a curmudgeonly attitude has at least once made me the master of my technological superiors. About a year ago, a virus ran rampant which would allow me to open any application,but then would freeze the application and not allow it to function or close! Including my version of Firefox. I borrowed a computer, and found out that there was a fix available online. However, since the bug had seized control of Firefox, I could not download the patch. Enter our hero, unrecognized obsolescence. I don’t use IE, and so the version of IE I had was elderly… so elderly, in fact, that the bug did not even recognize it. I s-l-o-w-l-y downloaded the patch, rebooted, and voila!
Age and treachery win out once again over youth and skill.
The pepperbox revolver was a little pistol with six barrels which was intended by its creator to fire one barrel at a time and then rotate to the next. Interestingly, it would as often as not fire all six barrels en banc, astonishing the shooter and inconveniencing passersby. Very effective, as “if it didn’t get what it was after, it would fetch something else”. This little adventure in firearms was, in Mark Twain’s words, “confounded comprehensive”, which suits the purposes of this blog to a “T”. Here you will find religion, politics, rants on the sublime and the mundane and what may be most honestly described as a transcription of things said to my car windshield as I drive. I refuse to repent if you are offended, and will promise no specific performance except to apologize if you get bored…
Here’s a collection of the latest in resources from the church growth industry:
“Pastor, are you sick of those sneaky sheep slipping out the side door of the sanctuary while you’re supposed to be sequestered with the Spirit? Here at Locking The Sheep Gate Ministries, we’ll show you how to turn simple visitor cards into a database to track your flock! Even your church secretary can round up those strays with our automated, software-driven “We Miss You When You’re Out” bulk postcard mailing system. Visitation tickler-file option available, along with more-emphatic Holy Fire© message cards for repeat backsliders. For Mac or Windows Vista.”
“Attention, church leaders: Your church attendance could triple in just one year! Humble Church of Blister, Nevada did it with church growth tools from Bigger Barns Ministries! Says Pastor Delroy Blunt: “That’s right! Our quarterly ‘Bring A Friend If You’re a Real Christian Sunday’ program is packing them in! We’ve had to borrow over a million dollars at junk bond rates to build a new sanctuary!”
“Church growth research shows that once your sanctuary fills to 85% seating capacity, people start turning away. Help your parishioners avoid sitting so close together by adding pews from the Room For Every Heart Sacred Furniture Company of Swanee, Indiana. Call us at 1-800-MOVEOVER. Ask our sales rep about Slice O’ Heaven theater seating when you call. Remember, just because we’re one in Christ doesn’t mean people want to touch each other.”
“Music Ministers: Are you losing members to bigger churches with big praise bands and big budgets? Hold your sacred ground with our HymnTastic computerized synthesizer and synchronized PowerPoint Lyrics Display. From “The Old Rugged Cross” to the hottest Christian country and rap, our Internet download service makes the preparation of heavenly worship as easy as reading your e-mail! And add enjoyment to reading those song lyrics with our beautiful Creation Sings© series of background slides. Your song lyrics are superimposed over fifty beautiful sunsets and landscapes, each guaranteed to inspire even the most lackadaisical worshipper.”
“Most people come to church because of the invitation of a friend or relative. Think of the potential, Pastor, if your members would just invite all their unsaved friends. You say it doesn’t happen at your church? Then you need the FriendSaver© System from Big S Jesus Marketing. You preach one special evangelism sermon (text enclosed), and pass out a FriendSaver© Evangelism Card to each member. Encourage them to list the names of all their friends who do not come to your church. Don’t worry about people feeling pressured, everything is voluntary. If someone does not wish to provide a list of names, simply have them check the box on the card marked, “I want my friends to go to hell”. You’ll be amazed at the level of participation! Then, once the names of these infidels are entered into your church computer, our software creates exciting personalized letters about you and your church. Our AutoMail feature sends these letters out every week over the machine signature of your own church members! The impact is incredible!”
The preceding tongue-in-cheek paragraphs would be more humorous if they were not so true to life. Each one is based on current practices or products currently in use out there in the church marketplace. As the comedians sometimes say, “This stuff writes itself.”
“I sometimes despair of getting anything quite simple and honest done in this world by the help of men. They would have to be passed through a powerful press first, to squeeze their old notions out of them, so that they would not soon get upon their legs again; and then there would be some one in the company with a maggot in his head, hatched from an egg deposited nobody knows when — for not even fire kills these things — and you would have lost your labor.” –Thoreau, Walden
I’m reading Thoreau’s Walden, and in so doing I am being reminded of the value of reading things which are not altogether as I think, and yet of value. It is the sorting out, the reaching through the bramble to collect the blackberries, which is of almost as much value as the fruit itself. To incur the minor scratches of impiety, even the more painful cuts of blasphemy, on the part of another, is not a fatal disease to be avoided like typhoid. Rather, taken in the context of what we do know, it builds the intellectual immune system, for it allows us to consider folly, to reject it, or more worthwhile, to understand its fault better. And best, to understand the basis for it, to recognize its wrong turning, that we may avoid a similar turning in my own track some distance down the road.
We should not be so quick to distance ourselves from writing not “Christian” in nature, from philosophy which may at points find itself disrespectful of — if not in precise opposition to– our faith. To do so is to hothouse ourselves, to remain in an intellectual cloister. A tree which grows up thus staked against the breeze will be bent double in the eventual high wind.
At times I fear we see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil at the expense of becoming blind, deaf and dumb in the process.
Thoreau reminds me of the value of impertinence, of challenging the status quo, of fearlessly questioning the unquestioned. Not for the mere purpose of challenge, mind you, but to make room for truly unfettered contemplation.
“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” -Thoreau