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

July 16th, 2004 Matt Jones No comments

Steven Den Beste wrote a great article today (7/15) about the differences between “can” and “may” - capibility 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!


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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Categories: Politics, Social Commentary Tags:

Picturing God

July 14th, 2004 Matt Jones No comments

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 essentialy 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 layed out before him and know exactly what is going to happen, where, and when. I picture it like this: our linear timeline is layed 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 completly 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 completly, but it was a partial answer)


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Categories: Theology Tags:

Dennis Miller, End Times, and Michael Moore

July 9th, 2004 Matt Jones No comments

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 eloborate 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 genearlly 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 genearlly 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 belivers 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 descirbe this gathering with Christ in the clouds.) The word “rapture” is basically from a Latin word translated from the Greek “episunago” meaing 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 mett UP in Heaven and ramain 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 heartfult belief in what he was saying and seemed to respect that. At the end Miller jockularly 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!


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Categories: Social Commentary Tags:

Sudan Part 3

July 2nd, 2004 Matt Jones No comments

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 imformative 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 Sudam become independant. The Christian blacks do not have any power. Hence the turmoil.

The problems I had thought to be largley 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 largley Christian. My friend did make the point that if there were black Muslim there, they would not be killed.

Eventhough the blacks have no power there, they are still the majority of the population and are needed because the souther part of Sudan is more rich in resources. The mojority 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.

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Categories: Around the World Tags:

Sudan Part 1 and 2

July 1st, 2004 Matt Jones No comments

(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…


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 monority groups (the Arabs) are the ones in control of the givernment militias]. That seems to be a somewhat significant difference in numbers. Now 70% of the population consider themselves Sunni Muslim (how acurate 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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June 30th, 2004 Matt Jones No comments

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 inadvertantly 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 thats all I got at 1:50 in the AM. Shalom

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Categories: Blogging Tags: