“The Village” and “Hero”

Andy and I went to see “The Village” yesterday and I believe we both enjoyed it and yet feel that there was something missing. The movie made some wonderful comments about culture and our response to it. For those that have not seen the movie, I will probably be talking about things that will spoil the movie for you, so stop reading!

The premise is that a group got together because of some sort of tragedy in their lives (murder, rape) and decided that they should form their own community and go live on their own. In order to maintain the level of seclusion they desired they (and here is the plot twist that Shyamalan like to use) created “creatures” in the surrounding woods to keep people from venturing outside of their safe-haven. The charade is kept in place by keeping the story alive as well as using costumes to physically show that the creatures did, indeed, exist.

One of the great things about this movie is that these people wrestle with the notion that they are completely cut off from society and still have to deal with pain and suffering. They have to make decisions to either stay in their village or leave out into the unknown towns. In order to keep the innocence of the village they are often willing to suffer pain. The greater good of the idea wins out over the immediate need of a few individuals. It was really nice to see them struggle with these things.

When attempted murder creeps into their fair community they have to revise this idea. One of the daughters (Ivy), who is blind, is informed of the charade and is allowed to leave to community to fetch medicines to prevent infection of the victim (who is her intended). The intended murder is also an interesting comment, but I am not entirely sure what comment Shyamalan is intending to make. The man that intends to kill is mentally handicapped (Noah). It was also interesting because he is also killed off later in the movie, I have never seen a mentally handicapped person killed off in a movie, in this manner, before (that I can think of anyway). I don’t know if Shyamalan is suggesting that in a perfect society only those with mental illness could possibly commit such a heinous crime or of he was suggesting that this man was simply an extreme of what we all are. In once sense we are all mentally handicapped in that we are apart from God. We are all fallen and depraved and therefore sin. Noah is merely an extreme of what we all are and manifested his fallen state in a very drastic way that was not common in such a tight knit community.

One theme, that Andy pointed out, was different from Shyamalan’s previous films. His previous films have been about incorporating the supernatural into every day experience. Also, he is usually pointing out the goodness in man that that good endures through these supernatural experiences. In this film, the supernatural is fake. The goodness of man is not there, the fact that it is lacking is the reason the people leave and form their own community. When Ivy leaves the safe-haven of the woods she runs into a park ranger who is very kind and portrayed as innocent. This is opposite of what the community left and could lead to the belief that their reasons for leaving were invalid. As the park ranger goes to get her medical supplies he is talking to his superior (Shyamalan’s cameo) who is reading a news paper filled with articles about the horrible goings on in the world leaving you with the feeling that their actions were justified.

The theme of coming into enlightenment has been a common theme in many movies, including Shyamalan’s. People are in the darkness, the unknown and are somehow enlightened to what the truth is and it changes their lives. This film was different. Darkness was almost considered good or enlightened in itself. They were perfectly happy living in their own world, essentially in darkness about anything else in the world. They only character to leave is Ivy who is blind. One great comment that her father makes as people are questioning why she is the one to leave is that she is more capable than most the people in the village. Even through her blindness she can see and has a clear vision of what she has to do. In effect, more enlightened that others. I haven’t really developed this line of thought too much, and not completely sure what to do with it.

There are a few other themes that were also very well done in this movie that I won’t talk about (relying out the outside for salvation to mention one). The last one I want to mention is the idea of utopia and if it is possible, what would be the conditions for keeping that idea alive. I have already somewhat talked about this at the beginning, but it is important to mention again as it is what made Andy and I, although I think moreso with Andy, unsettled. The premise of the Village is that they have created a utopia, a safe-haven of innocence, if you will. The utopia did have its sorrows but they could still be deal with in the context of the idea of utopia. But the utopic state came crashing down with the actions of Noah. So what would be the conditions that they keep lying to their children and community members? When Noah died (actually, inadvertently killed by Ivy, who did not know it was him) he was masquerading as one of the “Creatures” and chasing after Ivy. She, now thinking the “Creatures” actually are real, kills him. The elders (who are the only ones in the Village that know of the farce) decide that Noah has re-affirmed their tale and the “Creatures” can go on living and maintaining the borders of the community. Andy, at least when we last talked, was quite unsettled by this, or didn’t know what to do with it. With all the evidence against their utopic idea, they they cannot escape the things that they originally left for, they still continue on. If the reason for their community had been shown to be invalid, it seems that the town would collapse. But for some reason they decide to continue lying to everyone to keep the idea alive. I guess this is where uneasiness has left me somewhat. I feel that, to them, the idea was still good and their secluded lifestyle will still be better than that outside.

There are a lot of things brought up in this movie that were very good and I did enjoy it quite a bit. I hope people have discussed the ideas brought up!

I also want to briefly mention the movie “Hero.” This is an amazing movie that deals with war and sacrifice. It is incredibly beautiful and the martial arts were stunning. It is a Chinese movie that has been out for about a year over there that for some reason, did not get picked up over here. Finally, of all people, Quentin Tarantino brought it over for the US (and Canadian!) audience. It is similar in genre to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” but I think I actually liked it better, and I really liked CT,HD. So essentially what I am saying is, “Go see this movie!”

Ok, back to reading,
Shalom

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Initial Impressions

It has been a pretty busy 2 weeks since moving to Vancouver. I have enjoyed myself and am really looking forward to these two years. It was somewhat of a bittersweet start to the year because I had to leave our family vacation early to start classes. It was also a difficulty leaving Khristine in Seattle. Seattle is only 2 hours away but can feel like a lifetime when you can’t get down there. At least there are other means of communication, but it just isn’t the same. Luckilly she is strong which definitely helps me out!

Regent college is quite an interesting place. I always have a ahrd time describing it to people – “Is it a seminary?” and things like that are always asked. So here is what it is “an internation graduate school of Christian studies.” How is that? Regent is one fairly small building on the University of British Columbia campus (which has a population similar to that of UW, but a little more spread out it seems). Because it is one building, it is pretty busy a lot of the time and you see a lot of the same people around. It will be somewhat interesting to find a balance of community and schooling. As one of my professors pointed out the goal of the school is to educate you, not to make you part of a community. Although because it is a small building and has students there for a similar goal, community is inevitable. I think it is a great place to study because it helps the balance of community and education. If one can stay focused reading and studying can occur while also giving time to “hanging out” and talking to people about this and that.

I am also very happy that I ended up with a notebook computer. It is so much easier and faster to take notes right on the computer during class rather than attempting to read my chickenscratch later on. Of course this doesn’t work quite as well in Greek, but thats ok. I am also looking forward to the many books I will be reading and writing about this term. I will probably discuss them later.

I guess this would be a good opporntunity to discuss the differences between my previous education and my current education. Since my undergraduate work was in physics and astronomy, writing is not my strong suit. The writing that I have have done has been largely technical. One of my biggest worries about Regent (along with Greek and Hebrew) is the papers that I will have to write. This is a scholarly school on par with Oxford and the like. I am going to have to get into a new mode of study where I will be reading 6 or 8 books as well as text books and learning a new language. These will all have to be combined into written short assignments as well as “term papers” of a sort. Not only are they just term papers, but they are scholarly papers that will have to be written with a certan degree of expertise. Research is something I can do having done it with the scientific background, now I will have to apply that to theological research. I suppose if anything, this blog has helped a bit in just getting back into the flow of writting and not just about science stuff. I will have to see how my first paper goes!

Shalom

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is from a previous blog so the original comments no longer exist.

Oh, Canada

Vancouver is a lovely city that I look forward to exploring, that being said, traffic here is horrible. I got my U-Pass today so I can hopefully aviod driving as much as possible. As small as my apartment is, I think it will work out really well. I have yet to determine how loud I can play my music and / or movies here…

Here is what I can look forward to at Regent for this, my first semester.

Interdisciplinary Studies / Theology 515: Theology of Culture – John Stackhouse
Interdisciplinary Studies 500: The Christian Life – John Stackhouse
Language 550: Intro Greek I – Polly Long
Bible 501: Old Testament Foundations – Iain Provan

Sounds like a way cool line up to me. Let me know if you are curious about what each class is about. School starts up on the 13th so I still have some time to get settled in. Orientation is next week and should be quite fun. It will be good to get to know some people in the program.

On that I will leave you with a word, once again, from one of my favorite (oh, I am in Canada now, I mean favourite) bands:

“Oh, Canada” by Five Iron Frenzy

Welcome to Canada, it’s the Maple Leaf State.
Canada, oh Canada it’s great!
The people are nice and they speak French too.
If you don’t like it, man, you sniff glue.
The Great White North, their kilts are plaid,
Hosers take off, it’s not half bad.
I want to be where yaks can run free,
Where Royal Mounties can arrest me.
Let’s go to Canada, let’s leave today,
Canada, oh, Canada, I Sil Vous Plait.
They’ve got trees, and mooses, and sled dogs,
Lots of lumber, and lumberjacks, and logs!
We all think it’s kind of a drag,
That you have to go there to get milk in a bag.
They say “eh?” instead of “what?” or “duh?”
That’s the mighty power of Canada.
I want to be where lemmings run into the sea,
Where the marmosets can attack me.
Let’s go to Canada, let’s leave today,
Canada, oh, Canada, I Sil Vous Plait.
Please, please, explain to me,
How this all has come to be,
We forgot to mention something here.
Did we say that William Shatner is a native citizen?
And Slurpees made from venison,
That’s deer.
Let’s go to Canada, let’s leave today,
Canada, oh, Canada, I Sil Vous Plait.

Have a lovely evening. Shalom

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is from a previous blog so the original comments no longer exist.

On Distant Shores

I didn’t think I would write an entry until I had moved (up to Vancouver and Regent College), but I felt I needed to revisit this here because it is something I think people should read. Before I get to that I suppose I should explain where this came from. I am packing more stuff today and have had, of course, Five Iron Frenzy on in the background. One of my favorite songs on their last CD is “On Distant Shores.” I have read through the lyrics before, but I think they were more of a skim and I have tried to follow along during the song but often more or less trying to keep up with the pace and rhythm of the words. Well since I have listened to that song so many times now I decided to sit down a read/sing the lyrics along with them. The bridge is quite fast but as I was singing and really listening to what was being said I was just flooded with emotion and started crying. It was this amazing feeling of God’s presence and His undying love for me even though I am a screw-up. I have so many thoughts going on this but I will just let the lyrics speak for themselves. PLEASE really read these words and meditate on them(especially at the bridge [which is the long section towards the end] and the end of the song – which is from one of their other songs “Every New Day.”)

“On Distant Shores”

I have been scarred so deep by life and cold despair, and brittle bones were broken far beyond repair. I have leveled lies so deep, the truth may never find. And inside my faithless heart, I stole things never mine.

If mercy falls upon the broken and the poor, Dear Father, I will see you, there on distant shores.

 

I have toiled for countless years and ever felt the cost, and I’ve been burned by this world’s cold, like leaves beneath the frost. On my knees I’ve crawled to You, bleeding myself dry. But the price of life is more, than I could ever buy.

 

(Bridge)
And off of the blocks, I was headstrong and proud, at the front of the line for the card-carrying, highbrowed. With both eyes fastened tight, yet unscarred from the fight. Running at full tilt, my sword pulled from its hilt. It’s funny how these things can slip away, our frail deeds, the last will wave good-bye. It’s funny how the hope will bleed away, the citadels we build and fortify. Good-Bye. Night came and I broke my stride, I swallowed hard, but never cried. When grace was easy to forget, I’d denounce the hypocrites, casting first stones, killing my own. You would unscale my blind eyes, and I stood battered, but more wise, fighting to accelerate, shaking free from crippling weight. With resilience unsurpassed, I clawed my way to You at last. And on my knees, I wept at Your feet, I finally believed, that You still loved me.

Healing hands of God have mercy on our unclean souls once again. Jesus Christ, Light of the World, burning bright within our hearts forever. Freedom means love without condition, without beginning or an end. Here’s my heart, let it be forever Yours, only You can make every new day seem so new.

Thanks all for reading, see you in Canada ;) God is Love.
Shalom

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is from a previous blog so the original comments no longer exist.

Science vs. Religion

This is something I wrote quite a while back but thought I would post it here and see if anyone else has anyone to say. :) (If you want to read any of the previous comments, head over here. [Sorry, the post and comments are no longer available]) [EDIT: I have made some additional remarks at my post Creation Science]

Since physics and astronomy have been a big portion of my life and interest, I enjoy thinking and writing about such subjects. The String Theory post was the first attempt at such a discussion on my blog. There is much discussion in and out of the Christian community about such things as the age one the universe / earth, evolution, big bang, “creationism” and other such scientific (and un-scientific) theories. This will be my first attempt to tackle such issue all at once. Obviously I won’t be able to address everything and I will try and be as concise as possible (I tend to ramble and I will apologize for that now). This will probably be a long post so bear with me (or not, your choice). Also, one thing to say before people jump on me for not supporting some of my claims with specifics: I will try and do the best I can to make references but I am moving soon so my books are packed up and are not at an easy reference point. If need be I will reference them after I move. So here it goes.

There are many Christians who believe in Creationism or Creation Science. I am not one of those people. This in NO WAY implies that I doubt their salvation. This merely means I disagree with some of their beliefs, these beliefs are not primary to salvation and therefore essentially DO NOT MATTER. That being said, I am a science guy and enjoy discussing such things and believe that people should always be furthering their understanding of God and His universe. What I have learned and believe does not fall in line with some of the main tenants of Creation Science. I guess the purpose of this entry is to suggest to both Christians and non-Christians that someone who is saved can still believe in the Bible as well as what science tells us.

It seems that most Creation Science is primarily used to go against evolutionist ideas as well as big bang theories (among others). The goal of Creation Science, I think, is good. It is an attempt to ratify things seen in the universe and to mingle them with ideas in the Bible. The problem that I see is that they don’t always really look at everything seen in nature. I suppose I should start with evolution. Evolution is the subject that I know the least about as it has not really been part of my studies so I will attempt to keep this brief. There has never been any proof that macro evolution (the changing of species from one to another) actually happens. This theory is followed like a religion and takes just as much faith to follow. Micro evolution (the adaptation and genetic changing of a species) has had reasonable evidence to suggest that it is possible and does indeed happen. Logically speaking it would be a fallacy to suggest that because micro evolution happens so does macro. On this topic I would probably be siding with the Creationist as there is little evidence to support this theory. The problem that arises is that evolution is often associated with the age of the earth because it takes millions and / or billions of years for evolution to take place. It is at this point that I generally break with beliefs of both evolutionists as well as Creationists. I do believe that the earth is approximately 4 billions years old but not because evolution mandates that. The evidence collected from both the earth and moon in a variety of ways suggests this age. I do, however believe in the timeline suggested in the Bible since the birth of Adam. The Bible puts forth that there is about 6000 years from Adam’s birth to current day. I have no reason to believe that the Bible would not be literal about these ages.

So why do I believe that humans have been since Adam about 6000 years ago while I do not believe that the age of the earth is similar? Because I believe in the Bible and in science. Let me start with the Bible.

Genesis 1.5: God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

The Hebrew yom is translated primarily as “day” and is from a primitive root meaning day, but it is also translated as many other things such as age, always, Chronicles, completely, continually, eternity, forevermore, lifetime, period, some time, years, and multitudes of others, but you get the idea. To me it is clear that the mere use of the word yom does not necessarily imply a single day. It must be read in context in order to correctly translate the word. So how do we read Genesis in context so we can understand what “day” should actually mean to us? The Creation narrative tells us where we come from and that we are under God’s authority. I think ultimately the usage of “day” comes from the fact that it is something we can understand. The 7 day week we are used to, we understand the Sabbath and that there is a division between the days. I think that this usage helps us follow along with the narrative. There doesn’t seem to be anything explicit about the passage that would let us know exactly. It is not a simple matter of taking the text literal or not it is a matter of listening to the narrative and the narrative is not explicit about what a “day” means. I suggest, then, that we should turn to science to see when the universe did begin.

Research into the age of the earth yields an age of around 4.5 billion years. Determining this age can be difficult because of the earth’s molten core that causes surface features to be replenished. Even though many features change there have been rocks found that date to around 3.5 billion years using different radiometric dating methods. This therefore establishes a lower limit on the earth (which is much older than many Creationists assert). Because it is hard to directly measure the exact age of the earth, indirect methods must be used. The best way to do this is determine the age of the Solar System which should roughly have the same age as the earth. Meteorites that have fallen to the earth can be used to find the age of our system and generally turn out to consistently be between 4.3 and 4.5 billion years (I know I am not citing sources, I apologize, you can find them for yourself.). Also, magnetic “markers” at the mid-Atlantic ridge show an age of around 80 million years. This follows from the fact that as magma emerges from the mid-Atlantic ridge the earth’s magnetic field essentially imprints its signature into that rock. As is spreads away from the ridge on either side there are locations where the magnetic field drops to 0 and then comes back with the opposite polarity (Magnetic north becomes magnetic south and viceversa). This reversal has been observed some 170 times. There is some inaccuracy here because it is not completely know how long it takes for the earth to change its magnetic field (meaning the 80 million years is essentially an estimate). This age is definitely not the best in determining the age of the earth because of replenishment of the earth’s core as well as the inaccuracies of determining how long it takes for the magnetic field to flip. That being said, it still seems to suggest that it is older than what Creationists suggest. (note: it has also been directly observed on the sun that magnetic fields do flip)

What is my point? My point is simply that scientific evidence cannot be ignored. It is also that when you don’t ignore scientific evidence you don’t have to throw the Bible out. They can indeed coexist. Even if you want to argue the age of the earth it is now nearly impossible to argue the age of the universe (at least a minimum age). The Big Bang theory has significant evidence to suggest that it (or at least a form of it) is correct. Direct observations in the sky lead to an age of the universe of about 13 billion years. The big bang theory always blows my mind because to me it fits perfectly with Christian theology. It always confuses me when it is used by scientists to suggest that it shows Christianity is wrong and thrown away by Christians because they say it doesn’t fit with the Bible. To me, both parties are blind to what the big bang really tells us about God’s creation.

Big Bang theory suggest that at a quantum singularity (normal physics breaks down at a singularity, it should also be noted that this did not happen IN space as there was nothing at all before the big bang, not even space) 13 billion years (or so) in the past “exploded” (which is not the best description as it didn’t really explode, it just became and started to expand) and the universe came into existence.

Genesis 1.1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Ummmmm… These two beginnings seem remarkably similar. The age can be extrapolated from current expansion of the universe as well as ages of stars and galaxies. All measurements of expansions lead to a singularity where density and heat are essentially infinite (check the Hubble Law as an example of such evidence). Cosmic microwave background radiation also points to a single creation event as the radiation is fairly smooth and even in all directions.

Personally, everything I have learned about physics and astronomy have drawn me closer to God and given me even more reason to believe. It blows my mind that some scientists can study the same things and not see a divine creator. It would be too much to go into here, but the complexities of the universe, cosmologically speaking, are so amazing that to deny a divine creator seems ludicrous. Similarly, it seems blind to me that many Christians can deny what legitimate science indicates. The science supports the Bible, it does not change it or challenge it.

There may have been a few more subjects I wanted to discuss, but it is getting late and I have forgotten what they are! I know this is a bit long, but I hope it has at least made sense. I really look forward to any comments that are out there. I will try and respond to them as I really do enjoy discussion. I probably won’t post another blog entry for a while as this is pretty involved and I do need to focus on getting ready to move to Canada, so possibly in another week I will try and get something else up. I named this entry “Science vs. Religion” because that always seems to be the argument, but indeed, they can coexist. Science cannot prove a religion but it can definitely support it.

I look forward to hearing from you! Shalom!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is from a previous blog so the original comments no longer exist.

Jesus IS God

There is a lot of talk about this subject, naturally. One tenant of the Christian faith is that Jesus IS God and is also Man, both 100%. This seems to be a paradox that only the Godhead can understand. I am ok with that. This, of course, brings up controversy. Many people suggest that Jesus really is not God, just a good man. (There are many problems with this argument, I am only going to discuss one.) People will support this claim by saying that Jesus never actually said “I am God.” There are actually many instances where Jesus actually does claim that He is God just not in the way that we want Him to. Claiming authority over the temple is just one example of his claim that He is God (only God can claim authority over the temple), and this is only one of the examples. I would like to point to John chapter 8 as a full on claim that He truly IS God.

John 8.58 – Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”

Please do go read this passage in context and it will have even more impact. Jesus states a few things in this passage. First, he is claiming that he has been around since before Abraham, this should make it very obvious that He is more than just a man. What really make this an “I am God” statement is his use of the phrase “I am.” Any good Jew would realize that this is a direct allusion to the burning bush. Exodus 3.14 “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM'; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”‘” Jesus is making a full allusion to something that the Jews would know about. Claiming “I am” is putting himself as God, as the burning bush, as the God of Israel. To further support the claim that Jesus is indeed claiming to be God, directly after Jesus says this, the Jews pick up rocks to stone Him as, in their eyes, he was a blasphemer and should, by law, be stoned to death. “I am” is not a simple statement. The OT אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) is used to replace the unspeakable YHVH יהוה.

Anyway, this isn’t really the entry that I had been planning on tonight. Had a good Bible study and this stuff was brought up so thought I would think about it a bit more. I will hopefully get an entry up about stuff pertaining to age of the Earth and such things.

Shalom

Addendum in response to a question about Mark 10.18:

17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
19 “You know the commandments, ‘DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, Do not defraud, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.’”
20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”
21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

I am assuming you are asking because this passage seems to suggests that Jesus is not God, yes? To me, and I haven’t done much research into this yet as I am at work, hopefully I can get more indepth later, I would say that Jesus is essentially speaking on behalf of all humans. Jesus is suggesting that humans are lacking and only God is complete. Humans fail and sin, God does not. Jesus is 100% man and could therefore speak on our behalf, but he is also 100% God and, unlike us, can resist temptation and sin. I hope that makes sense, and like I said, I will hopefully be able to look more into this one.

Let me quote William Lane as he put it better than I can.

Jesus responded by directing attention away from himself to God, who alone is the source and norm of essential goodness. The apparent repudiation of the epithet “good” only serves to radicalize the issue posed by the question of verse 17. The inquirer’s idea of goodness was defined by human achievement. He undoubtedly regarded himself as “good” in the sense that he was confident that he had fulfilled the commandments from the time he first assumed their yoke as a very young man…. Jesus’ answer forces him to recognize that his only hope is an utter reliance upon God, who alone can bestow eternal life.

Which I suppose is somewhat similar to what I stated above, just more eloquently. Jesus’ statement is not about being separate from God, it is about humans relying on God. I think this verse, along with the others you address are part of what makes the Trinity so confusing (and often a matter of faith). The Godhead IS indeed three separate “pieces” if you will. God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are distinct in their attributes, but still God.

The Trinity should be kept in mind when reading Acts 7.55 (well and always I guess). Stephen is under the same persecution as Jesus was essentially, blasphemy. As he looks to Heaven he sees God who is bringing him into His kingdom because of the sacrifice of the “son of Man” in Jesus. The are two separate beings partly because they ARE separate beings in the Trinity but also because they have each played an important role in Stephen’s role and are important to the context of Stephen’s story.

I don’t feel that 1 Cor 11.3 is meant to contrast God and man in a similar way you would contrast man and woman. The passage is to convey a relationship between the two parties. Gordone Fee suggests “Paul’s understanding of the metaphor, therefore, and almost certainly the only one the Corinthians would have grasped, is “head” as “source,” especially “source of life.” … Thus Paul’s concern is not hierarchical (who has authority over whom), but relational (the unique relationships that are predicated on one’s being the source of the other’s existence).” So this passage directly relates to the Tiniity in that God truly is the Godhead and is the source of everything, including Jesus. But Jesus has a very close relationship with the Godhead being a member along with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

“Godhead” is merely a term used when talking about all three persons in the Trinity – God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Passages you have pointed out, and others, point to the fact that God and Jesus are separate, this is true. THere are also numerous passages where Jesus is indeed claiming to be God, the specific one I have used in this thread comes from John. The way this dichotomy is resolved is where the Trinity comes in. The Trinity is One being – God – that has different aspects to it that have different “roles.” “Roles” is a somewhat bad term to use because the lines are blurred a bit, but I will use it none the less. Some think of it like this (again, this can’t be done to strictly because each “role” does all of this things as well, but that is another issue): The Father is the one in charge, Jesus is our salvation and God’s “represenative” to us, Jesus is also able to relate very closely to each and every one of us because he is Man, the Spirit is, as you said, God’s “active force” essentially, the Spirit also is somewhat of a moderator between us and God the Father. Individual pieces of one God.

Let me (loosley) use a metaphor that Hugh Ross used in helping to understand the Trinity. If God exists He would have to be outside of our dimensions as He is all encompassing. There are probably 11 dimensions (at least that is what current String Theory tells us) and God resides over all of those dimensions. For simplicity’s sake, I will only make reference to our three space dimensions. If God is above all 11 dimensions, he is definitely over our three space ones. Let us go down even farther and imagine that we are two dimensional beings (this will help in understanding the three dimensional version becase it is difficult, even impossible, to imagine a 4 space dimensional being or object). As a two dimensional being you are constrained to a surface and can go left and right, forward and backward, but not up and down, you don’t even have any thickness. You are gliding along one day and all of a sudden three dots appear in front of you . . . seems odd that they would randomly appear, then those dots start to grow and turn into circles o o o they keep growing O O O until they get larger and they start to touch OOO as they continue on they actually merge into one large oval ( ) . This all seems very odd as they came out of nowhere, but none the less they were still in your two dimensions. Now, if you, being a two dimensional person, had the capacity and comprehension to visualize and see a third dimension you would have seen that it was merely a three dimensional person sticking three of his fingers through your two dimensional plane. (for this to make a little more sense, imagine the 2-d plane is your desk and imagine pushing your fingers through it, what the plane of your desk sees is a dot where your finger starts and then growing into a larger circle. Make sense??) Now, to the two dimensional being it seems very odd for this to happen but to the three dimensional being it was just normal, the 3-d person has a higher range of motion. Let us carry this over to our three dimensions. How would a 4-dimensional being interact with our 3-dimensions (or a much higher order dimensional being even)?? To us, it might look very strange, but to them it is normal. The other, and very important, thing to note here is that the two dimensional being saw three distinct circles. If the person had not continued to push his fingers through they never would have merged into one shape (part of the hand). To the 2-d person those three O’s were COMPLETLY separate, individual objects. It is only with the knowledge and understanding of a higher dimension that you would be able to see that those three separate pieces were indeed all part of the same unit – the hand. While the Trinity’s different pieces may seem completly separate, even if closely related, they may actually be part of the same object but because of our limited understanding, we cannot see the entire piece. Wow, I hope that made sense, I hope Hugh Ross doesn’t read this and plot my death.

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A Short Biography of St. Andrew

Once again I was listening to one of my favorite bands, Five Iron Frenzy, and was listening to their song “The Cross Of St. Andrew.” I realized that I didn’t know much about Andrew. Theses are the things that I knew and found out (a lot of the info has come from “Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible,” here, and here.)

Andrew (which means “manly” in the Greek) was one of the 12 apostles and the brother of Peter. He was a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee by trade. Tradition tells us that he went to preach in Scythia (Greece) and crucified in Achaia (a region in Greece) at Patras. There is an apocryphal book called “Acts of Andrew” which is largely thought to be fictional but in the spirit of the Christian mindset in the 2nd century. The story goes into Andrew’s missionary trips throughout Asia performing different miracles. The account tells of Andrew healing and converting the wife (who then takes an oath of celibacy) and brother of proconsul Aegeates. Aegetes then takes revenge by having Andrew flogged and crucified. Traditions has it that he was to be crucified in the same way that Christ was but objected saying he wasn’t worthy so the crucifix was turned sideways like an X (a saltire). Andrew preaches from the cross for three days and reportedly says “O good cross! Made beautiful by the limbs of Christ, so long desired, now so happily found! Receive me into thy arms and present me to my Master, that He who redeemed me through thee may now accept me from thee!”

Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland whose flag bears the white cross (actually the X, saltire) of St. Andrew. Andrew is also the patron saint of Russia where many flags are also adorned with the saltire.

Andrew has become a symbol for spreading God’s Gospel and someone who truly understood Jesus’ grace and mercy at the Cross.

“The Cross Of St. Andrew” – Five Iron Frenzy

One missed step can make you stumble,
you set yourself up for a fall.
You punish yourself for each failure,
dogma beat out alcohol.
When all of your principles were fashioned,
you thought that your new rules made you new.
But maybe those X’s on your hands,
are what’s killing you.

 

[Chorus]

The Cross of Saint Andrew,
never meant to take His place.
The Cross of Saint Andrew,
echoes of His grace.

 

When Saint Andrew knew the measure,
he knew the cost of sacrifice,
he left all that he knew behind him,
great things come at such great price.
But all of this never brought the answers,
obedience comes with controversy,
what changed him changes me today,
Christ has mercy.

 

[Bridge]
All your sins can be forgiven,
all of this was always free.
Jesus loves without condition,
this is what freedom means to me.

 

Nihil ergo nunc damnationis est
his qui sunt in Christo Iesu qui non
secundum carnem ambulant.

[Translated: Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (Rom 8.1f)]

I found this to be a pretty interesting search for info on someone I didn’t know that much about!

Shalom

Addendum:
So here are a few thoughts of mine if reference to what the first stanza (especially the dogma beat out alcohol line).

I am not positive about this one, but this is how I see it: Christians set very high standards for ourselves because, even though we know it isn’t true, we feel we have to show ourselves worthy to get in to heaven. Because of this we are really hard on ourselves when we screw up. Hence the first few lines of the song. I think the next step is we can be come very legalistic about some things, including (especially?) relating to alcohol. We try and remove anything that could be construed as bad and become legalistic about things so we can try and remain closer to God. [Edit that wasn’t in the email, thought I should be a little more concise here] This is what the “dogma beat out alcohol” line means, our legalism, dogma, have tried to remove anything “bad” even though alcohol isn’t necessarily bad. Then they go on to say “When all of your principles were fashioned, you thought that your new rules made you new.” They say this because it turns out that our legalistic nature is, indeed, not what has saved us but God’s good grace. The crosses on our hands are those rules we think we have to follow in order to be Christ but they are killing us because that has become our focus instead of Christ himself.

Any thoughts there?

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String Theory Primer

I am not completely sure how to write this blog as I am not really an authority on the subject. I have immensely enjoyed Brian Greene’s book “The Elegant Universe” and I highly recommend it to anyone (not just those savvy in the area of advanced physics). I do feel that I can talk about it some as I do have a degree in physics and astronomy and have dealt with it some both in and out of classes. I suppose I will try and give a “primer” on what String Theory is and tries to accomplish. If this entry ends up being too long, I am sorry, I really enjoy physics and it is fairly complicated and even more complicated to explain it on a somewhat non-technical level. I will apologized now for switching tenses throughout my writing, I tend to do that a lot and I don’t really plan on editing this very much for perfect grammar – sorry!

A large majority of physicists believe that there should be an “Ultimate Theory” or “Theory of Everything (ToE).” This means that there would be a somewhat “simple” set of equations that would account for all the forces that we see in the universe. Progress in this area has been going on for many years with periods of great advancement and periods of sweeping it under the carpet. There are 5 forces that essentially hold the entire universe together: magnetic, electric, gravitational, weak and strong nuclear. As many of you are aware, the magnetic and electric forces have been successfully combined into the electromagnetic force. The four remaining forces are still waiting to be united into this ToE. The problem that arises is essentially scale. Gravity is EXTREMELY weak. For example, the gravitational attraction of two like charged particles is 10^42 times weaker than the electromagnetic repulsion. That is a HUGE difference in strength. Scale also comes into play in the physics used to describe different events. It had appeared that special relativity was incompatible with Newtonian gravity. Einstein was able to resolve the inconsistencies by showing that, as opposed to what Newton thought, gravity actually manifests itself at the speed of light and not instantaneously as previously believed. This was a great advancement because it brought Newtonian physics up to speed with the more modern experimental physics. It didn’t completely replace Newtonian physics, just modified it so it would not only describe classical physics but also relativistic physics. The next problem that arose was different in that it couldn’t be simply resolved with modification of an existing theory (like Einstein did with Newton’s gravity). General relativity is understood very well and predictions have held up in experiments but it seems to break down at the quantum level (quantum mechanics has also be very consistent with its predictions matching experiments). One thing string theory hopes to do is to resolve the incompatibilities between general relativity and quantum mechanics.

String theory essentially was born in order to describe how everything worked together, at both large and small scales and more importantly, incorporate gravity. Gravity has always been somewhat of a “black sheep” in the world of forces. It seemed like it was never really able to mesh well with any theory and any existing theory that it was added to seemed to break down.

Here is the basic idea of what a string is: every elementary particle is actually made up of a vibrating string, similar to that of a guitar or piano string. Each particle is a different note or different vibration. This helps support the merging of quantum mechanics and general relativity because string theory does not require events to occur at a single point as in particle physics.

Ok, there is MUCH more to this, I haven’t even really scratched the surface. This is already probably too long and I am kinda all over the place so I should stop now. I will hopefully get back to the subject and delve a little deeper into the elegance of string theory. I would recommend checking out PBS’ Elegant Universe page . It has a lot of Brian Greene’s stuff there from his NOVA series. Sorry if I was all over the place!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is from a previous blog so the original comments no longer exist.

Predestination and Free Will

There can be a lot of discussion in (and out) of the “religious” community about predestination and free will. I thought that I would share my thoughts on the subject and see if anyone else cared to share theirs.

The discussion (or arguments, depending on who you are talking with) seems to revolve around the fact that the Bible does not explicitly say “you have complete free will” or “your entire life is predestined.” Although, it does come pretty close to stating both.

Free Will (the ability to choose in any way desired without external circumstances getting in the way. This relates to the Christian faith in that God allows people to choose for themselves if they will accept salvation. Self-Determinism): These words never actually appear in the Bible but their concepts do. The Bible often suggests that we should conquer sin by choosing to repent from it and choose righteousness and follow Christ. The following verses definitely give rise to the thought that we do indeed have free will to choose things and that we do, indeed, need to choose Christ and repentance in order to be saved: Col 3.5 – John 3.16 – John 12.48 – Rom 10.9ff – 1 Peter 5.1ff

Predestination (all things are preordained, there is a sovereignty that has planned history and it is unfolding as time goes on, fate. More specifically, this relates to the Christian faith in that God has predestined, or already chosen, everyone that will or will not accept, and receive, salvation. “election”): The term “predestined” does appear in the Bible and does refer to the foreknowledge and sovereign power of God. The following verses lead directly to the conclusion that we are, in fact, predetermined to be (or not be) saved: Rom 8.28ff – Gal 1.15 – 1 Cor 2.7 – Eph 1.4f, 11 – 2 Thess 2.13

How does the Christian (or non-Christian, skeptic, atheist, agnostic, whomever) ratify the two seemingly paradoxical beliefs? The way I see it is that they are not paradoxical at all. Predestined means that God is sovereign and omniscient (has complete knowledge). Free will means that He has brought us into relationship with Him and has allowed us to choose Him or not. The two distinct beliefs only become paradoxical if we think 4 dimensionally. We would be confining God to our space-time. We are very used to things going forward in a linear fashion and, I think, have put God in the box of our timeline. What we fail to realize is that God is above that and does not have to be confined to the 4 extended dimensions that we are familiar with. String theory (which I who to write about at another time) suggests that there are actually 11 dimensions (10 space – the 4 that we know and 6 additional, very small, curled up ones – and 1 time). I will loosely apply a metaphor to this discussion that Brian Greene talked about in “The Elegant Universe” in describing other dimensions:

God is above time and can therefore see all choices (that we are free to make) at any point in time. Look at it like this (I discussed that a bit in another post): We walk along a string in one direction and from our vantage we can only see down the string. We can only walk in that one direction (like time). God, as he is above all dimensions, can see the entire string and therefore our entire life displayed before him. His foreknowledge is such that He can see the entire string and all of our choices. God knows who will choose Him and has known since before we were born. The fact that He knows does not me that we are REQUIRED to choose Him. Predestination, many people seem to think, means that we are forced into things and that therefore we have no freedom and then there would be no point. I believe that free will and predestination on their own lack completeness. If they are put together there is less chance we will but God in a box.

I think I have left some stuff out that I wanted to discuss and may remember it later. And yes I know I have rambled a bit, but deal with it.  Please feel free to comment or add anything.

The discussion on multiple dimensions is pretty interesting and hopefully I will discuss that later along with string theory.

Shalom

Addendum:
A side comment about “predestination” and “foreknowledge.” The words are very closely related but are subtly different. Foreknowledge seems to merely refer to a knowledge about something before it happens. God does have foreknowledge but, more importantly, he has indeed predestined things to happen. The subtle difference is that knowledge is just an understanding that something will happen where as predestination is that God has indeed laid things out in a particular way. Predestination does mean that history will unfold in a particular way that God has described. This, to me, in no way takes away from our free will to choose.

Predestination has once been described in this manner (which I believe incorporates free will): God is like a chess-master. When a chess-master is on top of his game (which God always is) he can see every move that his opponent will make and see the outcome of the game. Each move can still be made by choice but ultimately the chess-master knows what will happen. I like this analogy because it implies at least one important thing: God helps guide us, if we listen. A chess master can make certain moves that will lead his opponent where he wants him to go, in a similar way, God allows us to choose but will also make certain moves (this can manifest in different ways in our life) that lead us a certain way. We can completely ignore those things and make other moves, but if we listen to God he will lead us where we enter into a deeper relationship with him. The analogy does break down here because a chess-master makes his moves so that his opponent will lose the game, real life is not a game and God makes His moves so that we will draw closer to Him.

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Who writes the headlines?

Another funny post by Steven Den Beste. Basically he posted a snapshot from a Canadian news paper that states “World’s two most wanted war crimes fugitives still evading justice”

Now lets evaluate this jewel of a headline. To be a fugitive, don’t you have to be on the run? Seems like they are being a little redundant. Lets say, far argument’s sake, they aren’t being redundant and we have these two criminals evading justice. Now lets say they are caught, therefore the first and second most wanted criminals are out of commission, what happens to the third and fourth most wanted? Well it seems to me that they are now first and second (lucky them!). There is always going to be “two most wanted.” This headline could be said any any time of year and will ALWAYS be correct. ALWAYS. I thought this was very clever. :)

Shalom

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is from a previous blog so the original comments no longer exist.