“Can we go to war?” or “May we go to war?”

Steven Den Beste wrote a great article today (7/15) about the differences between “can” and “may” – capability and permission. More importantly, appearance and reality or form and substance. He relates the discussion to the war in Iraq and how the opposition often relies of the fallacies of form and will often ignore substance. Check it out, good stuff!

Shalom

Edit:
Also, check out this article called “Terror in the Skies, Again?“. Very interesting, indeed. Found from Lileks – you should read his commentary on the article as well – and Instapundit.

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Picturing God

How do you visualize God? Are there things that help you begin to contemplate his infinite scale?

I am a science guy so it helps me to think in those terms when trying to fathom God’s grandeur.

God is omniscient (complete knowledge), omnipresent (present everywhere simultaneously), and omnipotent (complete and unlimited power). These are some pretty amazing characteristics to have and no one on Earth can come close to.

I try to imagine God, with all his amazing characteristics, in terms of dimensionality. God is essentially above all dimensions and can therefore insert himself into any one of them at any time or place. Since God is above all spatial dimensions he can influence and be part of anyone’s life anywhere. Since God is above time he can also intervene at any point in time, both past and future. God can take a step back and look at all of time laid out before him and know exactly what is going to happen, where, and when. I picture it like this: our linear timeline is laid out as a string, we are only allowed to move in one direction along that string (at least with current technologies ;) ), God can see the entire string and touch any point along that string, He see the beginning when we were born and He sees the end when we die. All points along that line are completely accessible to him hence his complete knowledge of everything we will ever do. Now just because He can see everything along our timeline that does not me that we do not have any choices, it means that He can SEE what all the choices are and what choices we make. It is still up to us to choose them, but He can see them none the less.

I don’t know if that was very clear or not, feel free to ask questions or for me to clarify. How do you picture God? (I know I didn’t really answer that question completely, but it was a partial answer)

Shalom

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Dennis Miller, End Times, and Michael Moore

It has been a while since I have posted and I have a lot on my mind so I will try to get some of those things out now and possibly elaborate later.

I like Dennis Miller, I think he is funny, clever, tries to be honest with the people he is talking to, and isn’t afraid of being blunt. I saw his new show in CNBC the other day. It wasn’t as intense as his show on HBO, but that is to be expected. Miller is pretty conservative and I generally agree with a lot he says and often appreciate how he says it. His guest on that particular night was Jerry Jenkins who is co-author of the “Left Behind” series of fictional books dealing with the end times / second coming of Christ. I have read the first few books in series and did enjoy them. They aren’t the most well written books I have ever read, but entertaining none the less. I am generally not a big fan of “Christian fiction” but these books put an interesting spin on the book of Revelation. I don’t necessarily agree with the theology behind the books (meaning I don’t believe that the end times will have to look like it is portrayed in the series, but that is ok, it is a work of fiction.)

I had mixed feelings about the Miller / Jenkins interview. Both parties seemed very heartfelt in their questions and answers. Jenkins did to one thing that I was not very happy with: he stated that ALL Christians believe that this is how the end (Parousia) will look. That we all all be rapured up into Heaven etc etc… This is a preeminent belief of dispensational premillennialism – not necessarily ALL Christians. I have two qualms with this view. Firstly, I take issue with how the word rapture is used. “Left Behind” has the rapture taking all true believers up to Heaven all to meet Christ before the 7 years of tribulation. I see the rapture as a gathering of the people of Christ as He returns (See 2 Thess 2.1-2, 1 Thess 4.14-18 also describe this gathering with Christ in the clouds.) The word “rapture” is basically from a Latin word translated from the Greek “episunago” meaning to gather together. Yes, it is true that the word “rapture” is never actually used in the Bible, but the concept IS there. My point is that the rapture of God’s people to meet with Christ is not necessarily going to happen right before the rapture, the concept of “episunago” is not actually found in Revelation. Secondly, I take issue with that idea that all Christians are going to leave earth and meet UP in Heaven and remain there for ever. It is pretty clear throughout the Bible that at the Parousia it will be Heaven ON earth not some ethereal fluffy-cloud-land. Yes, 1 Thess 4.14-18 makes note of gathering up with Christ in the air. BUT, if you actually read 1 Thess you will see that Christ has already descended from Heaven at the time of this meeting. It seems that the fact that the concept of rapture will occur in air is more of a meeting point, a rally-point if you will, NOT the location of Heaven or where all true believers are going to hang out for eternity. If you only used this passage to figure out where Heaven was going to be and the end, you would not be able to make any assertions because Christ descended from heaven to meet us, the eventual location of Heaven would have to be ascertained in another manner – like other places in the Bible.

Other than that point I think the interview went well. Mill asked some very difficult questions of Jenkins. The eternal “Why should person A who is well educated, intelligent, and a really great person be damned to Hell just because he doesn’t believe Jesus is the Christ while person B who is not that bright chooses to accept Christ will make it into Heaven?” This is a hard question and the answer is even harder. Jenkins did a good job of not denying the Truth of God while also explaining it in a way that was not too harsh. I liked the fact that Miller was blunt with Jenkins about his own beliefs and did not seem to mock Jenkins for his. Miller honestly saw a passion and heartfelt belief in what he was saying and seemed to respect that. At the end Miller jocularly stated that (loosely quoted) “we will see what happens in the end and if, as you are ascending into heaven and seem me down in the basement, put in a good word for me because I had you on my show.”

I hope the Miller continues to seek and ask honest questions and will come to realize that God is not about damning those to Hell that don’t follow Jesus, but is about saving those that do. If we are honest with ourselves we will see that we are sinful and really do deserve Hell. Even the “really nice” people mess up and sin, we all do. That is the nature of man after the Fall. It is only by God’s grace and mercy that we have another future available to us. God is the glass half full not half empty. God mourns for those that don’t follow the path to him and miss out on the eternity with him.

I have many more thoughts on that issue that will probably be saved for another time.

I would also like to say something here, because I really haven’t yet, about Michael Moore. I have not seen Fahrenheit 9/11 yet, not sure if I will. I wish people could see his films as they really are – opinion. People, not everything you seen in a documentary is fact, please remember that! Moore has an agenda and that is what he is pushing, nothing more. Please, please, please check out this blog (thanks Sal) for a wonderful discussion of Moore and one of his more recent opinion articles in the LA Times. This is WELL worth the read.

I always have more to say but it is almost 1 and I have to be up at 6, so I should go to bed. I look forward to any comments you all have! It is very strange, I never saw myself getting into the world of blogging, but here I am getting out all these different resources to give me fodder for my post. If nothing else, at least I am educating myself!

Shalom

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Sudan Part 3

I have been talking with a friend at work who is from Cameroon (2 countries away from Sudan on the west coast of Africa). She has filled me in an the way people see things in Africa. Now this is from her standpoint and she will have her own biases, but still much more informative than CNN or even the BBC I think.

In my previous post I stated that 70% of the population consider themselves Sunni Muslim. I also made the comment that I don’t really trust those numbers because they (they is the CIA world Factbook) also say 80% of the US population consider themselves Christian. My friend from work puts it this way: the Blacks live in the southern part of Sudan and are Christian, the Arabs live in the north and are Muslim. The Muslim Arabs are in the minority but are in control of the government / militia because the French put the Arabs in power in 1956 when Sudan become independent. The Christian blacks do not have any power. Hence the turmoil.

The problems I had thought to be largely racial both because of how the news has reported and also from trying to figure some of it out on my own. Apparently it is more than that. It really is a religious issue, which is directly related to race as the blacks are largely Christian. My friend did make the point that if there were black Muslim there, they would not be killed.

Even though the blacks have no power there, they are still the majority of the population and are needed because the southern part of Sudan is more rich in resources. The majority of the conflict is taking place in the western region of Darfur where there is the “ethnic cleansing” of the Christian blacks.

I will have to keep looking into this, but I have to get back to work.
Shalom

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Sudan Part 1 and 2

(Part 1) I just started looking into what is happening in Sudan and in particular the Darfur region (that is in Africa for all those geographically challenged). I have only had a few minutes of reading. Sounds like things are looking pretty bad over there. Check out this article from the BBC for some of the more current info.

I will have to read some more stuff (when I am not at work) and post more when I can actually make sense of it all (or at least some of it).

Editor’s Addition (Part 2): I found another good primer – a Q&A on the conflict – from the BBC. Check it out.

Here is another article from CNN. The BBC article is quite a bit better, go figure…

Shalom

Addendum (Part 2):
I need help here: So the Sudanese government is basically Arab-Islamic centered / favored militia. The population is roughly 52% black and 39% Arab (and others) [it is odd that one of the minority groups (the Arabs) are the ones in control of the government militias]. That seems to be a somewhat significant difference in numbers. Now 70% of the population consider themselves Sunni Muslim (how accurate that is, I don’t know, I mean they say 84% of the US population considers themselves to be Christian and it may be un PC of me to say this, but 84% of US citizens are NOT Christians. But I digress.) This % of Muslims obviously implies that a good portion of the blacks are also Muslim. If there is “Ethnic Cleansing” – genocide – going on this must mean that there is division within the Sunni group, yes? They don’t seem to care that they are Muslim, they only seem to care that they are black. Is this what I should take from this or am I missing something? Wouldn’t this be like me wanting to kill off all the Asian Presbyterians? This does not make sense. Ok, genocide is bad, but the militia in Sudan seem to be ok with it none the less, but shouldn’t there be some logic to their killings? Do they just not like blacks or do they not like the fact that they are not “true” Muslim because they are black. Someone help me out here. Am I just reading into things and it is really only a racial issue not a religious one?

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Hello

I wanted to drop a quick note to say “hey” to everyone who stops by and reads some of my thoughts. I am glad to see some family dropping by (especially because my / your email doesn’t often get here / there… argh). Please feel free post / add any comments about anything, I love to hear what is going on with people! If anyone has any particularly interesting blogs that I should check out, please let me know. Thanks for your congratulatory remarks Jill, it is really appreciated and I am very thankful that I have been given the opportunity to choose two great schools (and probably end up at both, much to the government’s delight – ie school loans). Sally (and others that are interested) you now have inadvertently added some pressure on me to find interesting things to blog about! I really look forward to your comments about those thing!

One thing that I found out tonight that I am sure some of you will be interested in (of course you probably already know) is that there is a new CSI series starting up. Now I never really got into CSI: Miami, but this one could be cool for two reasons – firstly it is in New York (Yes New York is often overplayed, but really, it will make for some interesting stories) and secondly Gary Senise is in it. He is way cool and an awesome actor (everyone really should see his and John Malcovitch’s version of “Of Mice and Men”).

So that’s all I got at 1:50 in the AM. Shalom

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The Religion of Environmentalism

This is a post I wrote in another forum:

Here is another article that I think you should all read. It is, again, a lecture by Michael Crichton. He says a lot of really good things in there that I really like and he said a few things that I did disagree with. Being a very rational, scientific person I liked that he pointed out that science and religion should not be the same but I did not like that he thought that they were mutually exclusive. I did think his analogy of Environmentalism to religion was somewhat fitting.

His article is about Environmentalism and how it is pretty off base. He parallels it with religions belief as it is based in faith and not fact (which is something that I don’t really agree with when it comes to Christianity as I think both fact and faith are extremely crucial, but his parallel still has value.) Here is something he said towards the end of the article:

How will we manage to get environmentalism out of the clutches of religion, and back to a scientific discipline? There’s a simple answer: we must institute far more stringent requirements for what constitutes knowledge in the environmental realm. I am thoroughly sick of politicized so-called facts that simply aren’t true. It isn’t that these “facts” are exaggerations of an underlying truth. Nor is it that certain organizations are spinning their case to present it in the strongest way. Not at all—what more and more groups are doing is putting out is lies, pure and simple. Falsehoods that they know to be false.

Now he is not saying that religion is bad in this article, he is saying the religion of environmentalism is bad.

I know it is another long article, but I think that both of his lectures are quite interesting and have a lot of great things to say and talk about. I like to read so I definitely enjoyed hearing his thoughts. I would love to hear what you all think about his stuff.

Here is the link

Now, I do believe not only that science and religion are not mutually exclusive, but indeed they really are mutually inclusive. Although, while mutually inclusive, they are not the same and cannot be defined in the same terms. One thing that pisses me off so much about secular (and often Christian) writers/scientists/whatevers is that they either completely have Christianity and science at opposing ends of a big fight or they try to equate one with the other. Science supports Christianity (and the other way around) and that is an amazing thing and it seems people always want to either ignore it or not give it enough credit.

Hope you are listening!
Shalom

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Aliens Cause Global Warming

Yes, that is right, they do. Well, ok, maybe indirectly. This is actually a serious article (actually a lecture) by Michael Crichton. Everyone should go read all of this: Aliens Cause Global Warming.

I thought this was pretty insightful.

Quoted from somwhere else by a friend:
“I think that this is an excellent article and an excellent insight, but I also think that Crichton is overly optimistic about the past of scientific endeavor. Sientists are people, and people are not objective beings. Now, we can train oursxelves to be more objective, but at the very point that you begin to claim pure objectivity-which scientists have been prone to from the beginning of science-you betray a big ole blind spot. ”

Many of the topics raised I think are interesting things to research, such as the search for ET, but I think the problem that arises is that people become blinded by what they are looking into. Ideally we should all be completly objective, but it doesn’t always work like that. If someone starts to call themself completly objective (which I think a lot of really intense scientists often do, possibly evolutionists…. another issue completly) they are fooling themselves, the scientific community, and the (often ignorant) genearal public who have no reason to think the scientists AREN’T completly objective. It seems that policy can often come from those who consider themselves completly objective but really have no (or little) clue about what they are talking about. Science should be left to scientists and policy should be left to policy makers. The former should inform the latter but not the other way around.

Anyone read it and have any thoughts?
Shalom

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SPU Here I come??

I found out today that I have also been accepted to Seattle Pacific University’s Masters in Teaching program. I have decided that I will be going to Regent first for two years and then come back and go to SPU for the masters and teaching certificate.

The way I found out was somewhat unexpected. I had an interview today with the director that would determine if I would be accepted or not. The interview was going along, I was telling her about me and why I want to be a teacher, etc… Because her graduate student helper person is away she hadn’t had time to look at my file (she actually got the file during the interview). After we had talked for a while she took some time to look over my file and read my letters of recommendation and then said “just so you know, you have been accepted to the program.” Doesn’t that seem a little strange? It was right in the middle of the interview! It kind of caught me off guard, but was very cool. Either she really liked what I had to say or my letters of rec were REALLY good. Either way I was happy. Luckily she did ask about me applying to other schools and I was able to tell her about Regent. I said that I would probably be going up to Regent first and then reapply to SPU in two years. She just said that she would love to have me in the program and work with her and that if it sounded like Regent would also be a good thing and would hope that I will be back after that.

Needless to say, it was somewhat of an ego-booster today. Shalom

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Regent here I come!

I have decided to make it official. I will be heading to Regent College in the fall! If you want to check them out go here: regent-college.edu They are definitely an awesome place to be. Not to be a name dropper but Regent has such amazing professors as Gordon Fee (“How to read the Bible for all it’s worth”, General Editor and contributor for the New International Commentary on the New Testament, member of the Comittee on Bible Translation which produced “Today’s New International Version” a revision of the NIV, and many other great books, great speaker), James Houston (“The Transforming Power of Prayer”), J.I. Packer, Rikk Watts (“Isaiah’s New Exodus in Mark”, great speaker), Iain Provin, John Stackhouse, and of course Eugene Peterson (“A Long Obedience in the Same Direction”, “The Message”, and many other amazing books.) and a long list of others! I don’t really like to name drop, but I am just really excited!

Now I just need to figure out how all of this is going to happen! I need to find a way to pay for this and I need to find housing up in Canada. It is also going to be really hard for me too because I really don’t want to leave Khristine. She and I both know it is what I need to do but that doesn’t make it any easier. I guess I will just be spending a lot of money on gas!

Ok, I started writing this about 2 hours ago so have nothing else to say right now! Shalom

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