“Receive the Holy Spirit”

On the evening after his resurrection, Jesus “breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.'” (Jn 20:22). How, then, is it possible to become “filled with the Holy Spirit” seven weeks later on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) if the disciples had already received the Holy Spirit?Continue Reading

How The Mighty Have Fallen

I was just watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, S3E13 “Déjà Q” when Guinan says, “how the mighty have fallen!” That reminded me of a spoken word prelude in a 1990s Cindy Morgan song and got me to wondering about the origin of that phrase so I Googled it thinking it might have been Shakespeare. To my surprise it turned out to be from the Bible! “How the mighty have fallen! The weapons of war have perished!” 2 Samuel 1:27 (NIV)

Naked In Nature

As I lay there naked in the heavy dampness and slight chill with only the drizzle and the creek accompanying me in the blackness, I contemplated the existence of my earlier hominid ancestors sheltering such nights in caves. Continue Reading

Edmund Burke on Moral Duty

Two intrinsically-linked quotes from Sir Edmund Burke:

1) The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

2) Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.

Nymphomania and Satyriasis

I was cogitating on the percrptive societal dissimilarities of sexuality while turning the use of “nymphomania” over in my head. The “nymphomania” label (to say nothing of “nympho”) carries an implicit connotation of abnormality and even a subtext of whoredom that is not commensurately accorded to males (the implication being that males are whorish dogs whose sexuality is valueless while the sexuality of women is valuable). There is so, so much to unpack here, but for now I want to mention a particularly interesting preliminary finding. It turns out that there is a male analogue called “satyriasis.” That said, the fact that no one ever hears this word is itself a statement on society’s dissimilar treatment of female and male sexuality.

Pro-Life, Yet Not Pro-Health?

Right-wing Christians grandstand on potentiating “unborn” lives with no apparent thought to the quality of those lives. I am this moment reminded of John 10:10 where Jesus said “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” How exactly can one be pro-life without also being pro-healthcare? Conservatives have (as should all) a distrust of government overreach and tyranny, but to be pro-life must necessarily also mean being pro-abundant-life. What use is it to have life without quality of life? And life cannot be narrowly classified as birth but as all those who have been born but not yet died. To be pro-life must mean (as the Catholic church teaches) opposing capital punishment. It must also mean making healthcare available to all—not just the wealthy, not just ‘the least of these’—but to all and to those between. And it probably also means dispensing the same quality and access to healthcare just as it means the equal right to live.

Hypocrisy of a “Christian Nation”

It is ridiculous and incredible that as a popularly-styled “Christian Nation” American society requires laws compelling compassion and fairness (by way of example, Colorado’s and Washington State’s laws on public accommodations). While the government should not dictate the conscientious objections of private enterprise, neither should private enterprise be allowed to hatefully mistreat a class of people. Continue Reading

I Still Don’t Understand Religious “Modesty”

Perhaps it is just something peculiar to my neurodiverse brain (probably), but religious “modesty” practices are nonsensical. Why is an ankle-length skirt “modest”? Is an exposed calf that alluring? And why is such skirt a “modesty” when the presence of the ass is still known and the form of the breasts are still evident? The reality is that there is no universal anatomic feature that captivates every man. As is best known, there are “ass men” and “tits men” and yet this is absolutely too reductionist. Men are likewise captivated by –! more — crotches (not just by camel toe either), thigh gap, exotic hair, full lips, glam makeup, tight stomachs, elegant hands, stately shoulders, etc. If all sexuality were to be avoided then women would be reduced to wearing a burka and niqab, and that is as misogynist for its oppression as it is misandrist for its casting all men as mouth-breathing brutes. As so many endeavors of fallible humans, “modesty” expectations seem to be calibrated to behavior conformity rather than mentality, for as Scripture holds, man looks externally while God looks internally (1 Sam 16:7 “But the LORD said unto Samuel, “Look not on his face, or on his stature because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” “). Just as every body type is different (endomorph, mesomorph, ectomorph triangle, inverted triangle, hourglass, pear, column, etc, etc), so too “modesty” must be different for every person, bodily as much as mentally and emotionally. And this goes for men too where it is not just his ass that appeals universally to all women, but also robust shoulders, broad back, powerful thighs, chiselled jaw, penetrating eyes, disarming dimples, hairless/hairy chest, etc, etc.

The modest person does not achieve modesty by obscuring that which might attract or distract another, but rather by not emphasizing any feature with the intent of playing such feature to one’s advantage. In a congregational setting, the focus should be upon the Almighty so anything that draws attention to God’s creation rather than the Creator is immodest, perhaps even idolatrous. After all, what human can take credit for beauty? There is a clear line between stewardship of our earthen vessels and vaingloriousness. This is not to say that a man or woman should avoid positive grooming and styling, but some healthy self-examination is in order. No, a person with physical disfigurement need not eschew measures to conceal burns any more than a mastectomy patient should forsake a prosthesis. At the same time, however, there remains a distinction between confidence and dependency. There is nothing shameful in availing oneself of such measures to restore one’s confidence, but all would agree that it is psychologically healthier to have self-confidence independently of the external. So the use of cosmetics is not malum in se, but one should ask oneself why one feels a burden to embellish one’s appearance just because one is part of the front-and-center worship team (again, 1 Sam 16:7). Indeed, while watching various YouTubes and Pandos, I do wish that male vocalists and musicians would apply some liquid foundation and translucent finishing powder to nix that oily T-zone glare, but Western culture says that men should be disconcerned with such things while women should be obsessive with such things. And anyone who transgresses these arbitrary delineations runs afoul of Skirts, Pants, and Deuteronomy 22:5.

Paradoxically, I agree that Christians should represent the Kingdom positively why should the Almighty’s redeemed children live as if impoverished (Psalm 50:10)? At the same time, why should we who are to be characterized by love make a showing of excess when excess could be directed to almsgiving? Yet by another token, there are circumstances where a pricey gift is an appropriate gesture of love and appreciation for a spiritual leader (Mk 14:3, Jn 12:3). So can a preacher wear a designer suit? That is between him and God who knows the circumstances and the heart. Can an evangelist drive a luxury vehicle? That is also between her and God who knows the circumstances and the heart. Should we construct beautiful places of worship? I think so (Mt 6:22, Lk 12:34), but not to obsession (Mt 6:24, Lk 16:13).

During the corona hysteria I discovered one Tennessee church’s online stream and I couldn’t fathom how anyone allowed one vocalist to wear her particular bluejeans on stage _every_ week. Even at the risk of judging, I will say that her wardrobe and her body language STRONGLY communicated an unquenchable psychological need for attention. And all that was done with otherwise unassuming articles of clothing. Lately I have been watching a Texas church’s monthly worship nights and I am perplexed by the cosmetics. From a technical video production perspective, those men need to do something with their oily T-zones! From a metrosexual perspective, some of the older women seriously need some one-on-one MUA tutoring–cheekbone rouging ended in 1993! Hello, you’re fifty now, not twenty, and today one contours the cheek from ear to mouth. And one does not typically use color eyshadow as much now. Earth-tones are more the thing for routine application. I do not find their makeup conceited or offensive (retro-sad, yes) but it provokes a reflection on Mike Warnke’s joke, “Q: Well, just how much makeup should a Christian woman wear? A: I don’t know, it depends on her face!”

How we present ourselves reflects how we perceive ourselves as much as how we perceive our station. I am becoming more and more convinced that middle-of-the-road is where balance lies. Makedown is good for stage lighting and video recording, and I rather now grasp the utility of clerical and choral robes. Those who are front-and-center are performing a service.

Gnostic Theology

People like Ben Carson and Mike Pence shade intellectual Christians as much as they flame dogmatic Christians. As for me, yes, I can engage philosophical arguments without fear of sacrificing belief. Argument might alter my concept of God but argument will never change my belief in God.

Heavy Are The Shoulders That Wear the Mantle

Various congregations practice all sorts of titles beyond the recognized pastor, deacon, and elder. They commonly embellish with Minister Doe, Evangelist Jones, Psalmist Lee, and Prophet Smith. The thing is, calling oneself “Prophet Smith” is pretty much an automatic indicator that Brother Smith is no prophet at all.Continue Reading

A Powerless Form of Godliness

Paul wrote to Timothy that “in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves [… h]aving a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; […e]ver learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim 3 KJV)Continue Reading

In Jesus’s Name (Part 1)

Perhaps because Scripture says that “in my name” they will perform signs and miracles (Mk 16:17-18), Christians of all flavors, and almost without exception, conclude prayers for miraculous interventions with “In Jesus’s name…”. Pentecostals are quick to invoke “in Jesus’s name” to command matters to transpire. The thing is, that’s not what “name” meant in the Jewish cultural context of Jesus’s day. As Timothy Keller frequently explains, “name” connoted “personhood,” like when a son handles his father’s business affairs while the father is away, or when an ambassador exercises abroad the authority of her nation, or when mayors express the sentiments of their cities, they act in a name.Continue Reading

Otros ángulos analíticos sobre coronavirus

No puedo creer como se finja entender el coronavirus sin admitir lo oculto o incognoscible. Coronavirus ya existía hace décadas; sin duda hay muchos que ya tienen inmunidad parcial debido a su contacto anterior. Es más, no creo que afectará a todas personas de igual manera. Tiempo no basta ya para hacer los estudios genéticos para ver cuales linajes serán más susceptibles que otros. Y es cierto que en poco tiempo, se anunciará que hay COVID-19a, COVID-19b, etc, etc. Como el 19° se evolucionó de aquél de 2003, así el 19° se evolucionará en otros. Y no es muy diferente de la influenza que en el.mismo invierno puede descapacitarle a uno y sólo molestarle a otro.

Mountains, Valleys, & Transitions

Among the hardest words to internalize are these: you are where you need to be. Those words never come at the heights of success nor in the throes of ecstacy nor in the still waters of contentment; they come in the disenchanting valleys of transition between mountaintops. Valleys are where all the mountain runoff and detritus and pollutants collect as if to be ignominiously relegated to drink only of the mountains’ bathwater. But valleys are far more fertile than the mountaintops and while the natural elements will erode the mountains, valleys will never cease to be valleys and will enjoy the protection of the mountains which need not be perceived as hopes unattained but as insulators and protectors awaiting the moment. Valley water might not delight the palate in the moment, but it is plentiful and predictable; you will not thirst in the valley as on the mountain.

Judas and Caiaphas

Speaking to Pilate, Jesus said in John 19:11, “he who delivered me over to you the greater sin.” Most readers assume that Jesus implicated Judas, but it is more probable that Jesus had Caiaphas in mind for “it was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people” (John 18:14). “They therefore led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Prætorium” (John 18:28) complaining to Pilate that “it is not lawful for us to put anyone to death” (John 18:31). Therefore, it would appear that Jesus indicated that it was Caiaphas who “had the greater sin” for delivering Jesus to Pilate for the purpose of dying. For his part, it appears that Judas had no foreknowledge of Caiaphas’s intentions because when Judas “saw that Jesus was condemned, he felt remorse […] saying, ‘I have sinned in that I betrayed innocent blood'” (Matthew 27:3-4).

Why Are Skirts Perceived As Feminine?

Before the women’s liberation movement, skirts were just what women wore. In post-liberation America, skirts became something that accentuated the female identity rather than just aligning with the identity. With Queen Victoria’s prudishness far in the rearview mirror, hemlines rose and skirts no longer merely accentuated gender, but became a means of summoning attention once society finally admitted the legitimacy of a woman’s sexual self. Would it be unreasonable to think that males therefore came to cognitively associate skirts with exaggerated femininity?  After all, that seems to be the only time most men take notice of how women dress—when the skirt is styled to stand out or the pants are tight or the shorts are extra short. In other words, males fail to notice (or the brain fails to imprint) when women wear anything “ordinary” that does not compel attention. That leaves only the out-of-ordinary to be noticed.  And if it is out of the ordinary for a man to skirt, that gets noticed. Could it be as simple as men failing to notice the aesthetic range of women’s skirts, noticing only when women wear certain skirts and therewith construe all skirts as a purposeful intent to assert femininity?

What I Became Because of You

In Star Trek S4E12 (“The Wounded”), the Enterprise crew are forced to cooperate with Cardassian leadership to stop a rogue Federation captain from destroying their fragile peace. The Cardassians’ presence aboard the ship is barely tolerable, but after dialogue with his wife, Chief O’Brian is later able to articulate an especially perspicacious explanation for his animosity.

“The only people left alive were in an outlying district of the settlement. I was sent there with a squad to reinforce them. Cardassians were advancing on us, moving through the streets, destroying, killing. I was with a group of women and children when two Cardassian soldiers burst in. I stunned one of them. The other jumped me. We struggled. One of the women threw me a phaser, and I fired. The phaser was set at maximum. The man just incinerated, there before my eyes. I’d never killed anything before. When I was a kid, I’d worry about swatting a mosquito. It’s not you I hate, Cardassian. I hate what I became because of you.

So I wonder, how many of us become bitterly angry at a spouse or a parent or a corporation when the interaction fundamentally changes an idealism that shapes out identity? Do we really hate or are we morning the loss of our innocence?

Second Amendment Restrictions

Americans might be more willing to accept goon/anno restrictions if it were applied equally to the militarization-thirsty (and qualifiedly-immune) police. The second amendment is substantively a repudiation and protection from the one law for me, another law for thee conduct of state actors. Let them lead by example by demilitarizing themselves before they ask citizens to demilitarize. Then there would truly be no need for such gear.

Live With Nature

The country has lost its mind trying to control the uncontrollable. Trying to stop pathogenic dispersion is like trying to prevent California wildfires. Humans want to think that our evolved intellect empowers us to bend nature to our wills. The reality is that all animals–homo or otherwise–must live with and within nature. Human suppression of natural fire turns the surrounding nature into a tinderbox. Fire is a critical part of nature’s ecosystem. Pathogens are too. I don’t hear all the macroevolutionists Continue Reading

The New York Times: “Skirts for Men?”

New York Times (1984) - "Skirts for Men? Yes and No."The social acceptability of men wearing skirts is by no means a nascent subject, but has has anything really changed since the Industrial Revolution? In 1984, the New York Times ran this piece regarding a Paris fashion show featuring men in skirts that was, according to French designer David Hechter, “the most important thing to happen in fashion in the past 20 years!” Hechter was one of the first designers to break fashion norms previously “when it was scandal for women to wear pants.” Rodney Martin puts a sharper point on it: “It makes me feel free. It’s a statement by which I can say I am free to do whatever I want. It does cause hostility on the streets, though. Sometimes I keep my coat closed over my skirt so no one will see it. And I do have to sit differently. But it’s not about being a woman.”Continue Reading

Life Struggles

Why do those who have never experiened soul-crushing struggle think themselves equipped to mentor those who are working through their issues?

Science, the New Polytheism

Throughout the coronavirus hysteria of 2020, policymakers and their designees spoke incessantly of “following the science.” The word science comes from Latin, scire, meaning knowledge. When academics speak of science they usually intend it to mean “scientific method” which is the use of empirical (i.e. “observable”) evidence to confirm or refute a hypothesis. However, being that COVID-19 was the first-ever global epidemic, there was nothing upon which or by which to assess the efficacy of countermeasures. As invoked, “follow the science” meant “trust the experts” which, in turn, conveyed an expectation to have faith in the speculative opinions of credentialed humans.Continue Reading

Adam and Eve

According to the Genesis (chapter 2) account in which Eve was “extracted” from Adam, that means Adam was the biological sum of man and woman. So Adam became man simultaneously with Eve becoming woman. Man and woman were thus created simultaneously, not sequentially. Man is not preeminent over woman.

Lorie Smith, What Would Jesus Do?

Does anyone remember the WWJD wristbands from the 1990s? Jesus opposed all that the pharisees stood for, yet he welcomed them into his gatherings. If they were not among the attendees, how were they have been there to pose questions to him? They tried to compel his speech about paying taxes to Caesar (Mt 22:17, Mk 12:14, Lk 20:22). But what did Jesus do? He got creative and avoided the very words that the Pharisees expected put in his mouth. Whether it is baking a cake or designing a wedding website, can we not love these neighbors as ourselves? Should a Christian refuse to love her neighbors by withholding alms from homeless lesbians? Should the Christian who pulls off the road to assist stranded motorists drive away when he adduces them to be homosexually-wedded men? Not every Christian is sufficiently spiritually mature to implement what I propose here, but why can’t Christians design a wedding website or cake while engaging in genuine loving prayer for the customer-celebrants? And shouldn’t a Christian do that for every such customer, even the heterosexual ones? Indeed, can the designer not imprint a resonant verse like “God Is Love”? (1 John 4:8,16) Does that not avoid the issue, love our neighbor, and plant a highly memorable seed that the Holy Spirit can cultivate over time? Tragically, high profile battles like Creative, LLC, and Masterpiece Cake Shop only injure Christianity’s message. I’m relieved that SCOTUS preserved free speech protections, but I wish this case had never been brought.

Amber Guyger

I’m going to predict that Amber Guyger will be (or should be) convicted of the lesser manslaughter. It is so bizarre. No explanation makes sense. I can believe that she was so tired as to go to the wrong apartment. I could also believe that she was doing blow or meth to stay awake and work those extended hours (which, btw, in and of itself is full of shit; plenty of departments work standard 12-hour shifts). Whether she was exhausted or not, the first response of any person is not to shoot. If I were in my home and someone walked in, yeah, it would be lights out. But if I walked into my home and immediately saw an intruder, I’d duck out as fast as I could and re-assess the situation from cover. If I came home and found my door ajar, I’m not sure what I would do. And maybe that’s what happened for her, but her always-right, never-wrong, bad-ass cop programming took over and she acted as if she had just responded to a burglary in process. But even then, she would have been justified in shooting if she saw a weapon or something that appeared to be a weapon. I am unaware of any such testimony. Whether she was mistaken or not, she was negligent. Her negligence caused the death of a person. That is manslaughter.

Umpires and Referees Are Better Impartial Observers Than Police

It occurs to me just now, and I will develop this more in the future posts, but sports officials are better observers in their professions than police are in their professions. Just by way of comparison, what percentage of video replays show a referee or umpire was incorrect in his (now her as well) initial assessment of split-second events? What percentage of body and dash cameras show police were dead wrong on events that crescendo over a period of minutes? Yes, there are

Climate Reparation Fallout

Small, second-world nations will band together in coalition(s?) for climate-change reparations and will exert tremendous demand-side economic pain until they get it. As wealth flows downward, first- and upper second-world nations will coalesce to sanction the former for their actions and cut them off from specific products. the former will then attack the later.