Monday, December 31, 2007

ENERCON's Really Big Wind Turbine

What you see to the right is ENERCON’s new (ish) E-126 wind turbine. Its capacity is rated at 6 MW, and 20 million kilowatt hours per year, that’s enough to power about 5,000 households of four in Europe. Lets to a quick US calculation. 938 kwh per home per month, 12 months, that’s 11,256 kwh per year per house. That’s 1776 American homes on one wind turbine.

I like these.

This one, like the rest of the E’s is direct drive, like most small home power style wind turbines. That means there is no gearbox attaching the turbine blades to the generator, in fact, the generator is housed just at the widest part of the nose cone, it takes up the entire width of the nacelle to generate power more efficiently, and provide longer service life with less wear.

Also like small turbines, these have inverters instead of synchronous generators, that is to say, a separate controller that converts the wild AC generated into something the grid can use. This means the rotor can run at more optimum and varied speeds.

Again like small turbines, this one does not shut right off at a predetermined speed due to gusts or just very high wind speeds. It simply throttles down by turning the blades slightly away from the wind so as to continue to generate power though at a lower production rate. Then the instant the wind is more favorable, it starts back up again. Many smaller wind turbines do something similar except have no blade pitch control, they use a technique called something like “side furling” where the whole machine, excepting the tail, turns “sideways” to catch less wind but continue operating.

The 126 in E-126 stands for the width of the rotor blades. That’s a bit over 413 feet for those non metric humans out there. The RePower 5M is about the same size, but produces 5 MW and is more of the standard hardware configuration.

Why such huge wind turbines?

Money, why else? Big things are cheaper per unit production. If you have 3 2 MW generators, you have to have three (at least) cranes to put them up, build three foundations, have to maintain three machines, and have three times the parts to fail. If you have one, it is larger and more expensive in itself to move, but not as expensive as having to move three smaller ones.


I don’t understand how people can be so concerned about birds becoming mush with modern wind turbines, especially ones this big. It only turns at 12 rpms. That means it takes five seconds to complete one revolution. That is slow but this is much bigger and easy to see compared to the whirring blades of old. The Altamont Pass turbines gave wind turbines such a bad name because they were built in the middle of the natural habitat of rare birds, the turbines were the small fast spinning type, and they were built using lattice towers, the kind birds love to nest in. These are slowly being replaced and all of the new ones are of the slower rotating kind. In the end, it comes down to this. Stationary buildings and moving cars kill literally millions of times more birds than wind turbines. And things like the Exxon Valdez spill kill millions of everything. So let’s go with the best option.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

We Don't Clean our Toilet

My in laws are staying with us for a few days because the baby was just born, and my mother in law, always helpful as she is was searching the house for the toilet scrubber. After we explained that we didn't know exactly where it was, she asked "Then how do you clean your toilet?" to which I replied:

"We don't clean our toilet."

We just don't use it enough for it to be a problem. The sawdust toilet is great. Even the guests are starting to use it.

Live what you believe.

None of the Below

I could hardly agree more.


What's the most accurate bible translation, who is Dr. Jason BeDuhn, and why Alex Trebek?

Good day,

Well, the old blog gets more hits than this one still, and it is simply because of Alex Trebek and Jason BeDuhn.

Let me explain.

A half of a year back I had posted on the Jeopardy question involving which bible translation was the best, why the supposed best translation is not the best, and what Jason BeDuhn said in his book "Truth in Translation." So, I've decided to rehash this subject for those of you out there still trying to find answers to these questions. The reason being is this, I believe that if the truth is found in more places, more people will find it.

Did Alex Trebek really ask “What is the most accurate bible translation?” on Jeopardy?

No, he did not. I can find no evidence anywhere that this ever happened, and anyone who stops to think about it for a few minutes would conclude that long before seeking any evidence. There is no YouTube evidence, there is little anecdotal aside from Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I cannot be sure about this, but I have found hints of some sort of message from the people at Jeopardy that this question never was asked. The assertion is simply ridiculous. Why would a secular game show tackle such a hotly debated religious issue? Simply mind boggling how anyone could come up with such a ludicrous idea.

Did Dr. Jason BeDuhn really write that the New World Translation was the best translation?

There is some truth to this one. However, as is usual in Jehovah’s Witnesses publications, selective quoting and misquoting are employed here (I have read the magazine this was published in) to make the NWT receive a more glowing review than it actually received. You see, it turns out that BeDuhn actually liked two versions of the Bible, one being the Jehovah’s Witness version, much debated, and the other being a Catholic version, which is also somewhat debated. So did he do this to sell books? Perhaps, but I will not make that accusation at this time. If you know Jehovah’s Witnesses, they don’t like Catholics a lot, so they conveniently leave that detail out of the magazine. What they also leave out is that BeDuhn has some pretty harsh criticism toward their use of the name “Jehovah” in the New Testament, something they are particularly proud of.

This is from Wikipedia:

“Dr. BeDuhn (Truth in Translation pg. 170) wrote of the mainstream practice of making the Old Testament conform to the New in its use of "Lord" and of the NWT practice of making the New Testament conform to the Old in it use of "Jehovah": "Both practices violate accuracy in favor of denominationally preferred expressions for God."”

The big question to me is why anyone would listen to Jason BeDuhn anyway. His Masters degree requires only an intermediate level of competence in Greek. His PhD from the University of Indiana is in Comparative Religious Studies, not in any Biblical languages. He is not recognized in the scholarly community as an expert in Biblical Greek. His other book is an analysis of religions as goal-oriented systems of practice rationalized within particular models of reality. I stress here GOAL ORIENTATED systems. Is your faith a “goal orientated system”? This guy has no business commenting on religious issues whatsoever, much less bible translations.

Finally, is the New World Translation the best translation? Or, for those search engines out there: What is the best bible translation?

Absofreakinglutely not. The guys who wrote the book are the following: Frederick William Franz, George Gangas, Karl Klein, Nathan Knorr, Albert Schroeder, and Milton Henschel. Each and every one of these guys was a Jehovah’s Witness, and all high up Witnesses as well. How is it possible that a group of human beings, who all substantially agree on a particular position not publish a book agreeing with that position and not be biased as the Witnesses claim they were not. I would expect a group of hippies to be in favor of legalizing marijuana and a group of oil tycoons to be in favor of refinery subsidies, wouldn’t you? Therefore, I expect a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses to be for their own translation no matter what kind of bias there was or wasn’t, because they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

From Wikipedia.

“It has been argued that the NWT translators were insufficiently qualified to translate the Bible, with only Franz having formal education in Biblical languages. It has also been argued that the size of the translation committee was very small compared to the number of translators involved in producing most other English translations. These criticisms are disputed by Witnesses, who state that the translation should be examined on its own merits, not on the speculated credentials of its translators.”

Let me ask you this. If I hired Ed and his buddies, all teenage McDonalds employees to build me a house, should I be happy with the end result because it is the right color, or should I take a closer look to make sure they actually did all the framing, electrical, and plumbing to code? Chances are, people who have little experience or education in what they are doing will do a poor job, regardless of what the end result *looks like*. So it is no surprise that when one examines the NWT on its own merits, we find that the hot water valve is on the right side of the sink and when you flip the light switch in the living room, the dish washer comes on.

The NIV I hear, was written by a group of several dozens of people, all whose credentials we know. It contained men and women, from a variety of backgrounds, and I’ve even heard there were one or two atheists and homosexuals among them. It was revised over a period of years by many people of similarly varying backgrounds. It would seem to me that people who disagree would, in the end, come to a more unbiased conclusion than people who agree. Don’t you agree?

Thinking people would agree ;-)


Thursday, December 20, 2007

The North American Union

My friend sent me a link to a YouTube video that was talking about the supposed North American Union.

I replied and said that it was a simple conspiracy theory, she sent me a few replies that she had recieved from other people and told me that she was trusting Jesus, here was my reply.

I understand your fear regarding issues such as this, and that person whose reply you sent me was right, but not about what she was talking about. American's aren't told the real truth regarding world events.

The following are established facts, not conspiracy theories like the North American Union. There is documentation. There are books, and not those of conspiracy theorists. There are names, dates, and times. These things happen.
FYI, here are some truths you likely do not know.
The US has overthrown the governments of in the range of twenty countries since Hawaii in the 1890's. The vast majority of them were democratically elected governments who simply wanted control of their own country's resources. An economic giant like the US cannot allow other countries to control their own resources.

Because of said regime changes, the US has caused untold damage and destruction in the way of civil wars in foreign countries. Perhaps the greatest of these is the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 which has resulted in what we now call "Islamic Extremism" and "The War on Terror." All because the US overthrew a democratically elected Prime Minister.

Every time there is a world economic summit, the US comes out billions of dollars ahead. Those billions of dollars come from somewhere. Where? From poor nations who cannot afford to lose business from the US, and must accept less and less money and control of thier country as the cost of doing business. And their cost of doing business many times can't even put food on the tables.

Year after year, the United States is at the top of every list of consumption statistics. Food, fuel, energy, medicine, products, raw materials. The thing is, we are not the biggest country in the world, and virtually every one of us is in the top 95% of the most wealthy people in the world. We spend enough money on ice cream every year to end world hunger, its that simple.

And we all know the United States systematically exterminated the American Indians. Those they did not kill were force marched to the worst land in the country and interned there on what they called "reservations". They might as well have been Auschwitz or Dachau.

There are so many more of these things. Conspiracy theorists think that it will be bad if we become like other countries, but the thing is, we aren't always that great to begin with. Conservative Americans think that becoming like Europe for instance is akin to giving up everything American. But there are several European countries I am quite fond of. Iceland has the lowest infant mortality rate in the world. Denmark has the greatest percent of total energy production that comes from wind. Germany has the most wind power of any country in the world. Spain has a new energy technology in testing that uses a big vertical pipe to generate power from rising air. Germany also has on of the best standards in the world for home building, called passivhaus, the houses are so well built, they only need the heat generated by kitchen appliances to stay warm all winter. Sweden is phasing out fossil fuels. Iceland plans to be energy independent from the rest of the world in just a few decades.

Truth be told, our government is inherently corrupt, but you know, so is every other government that has ever existed. They have risen and fallen for thousands of years, and we are still here. Christians have survived the fall of Rome, the fall of Israel, the fall of Hitler, the slow descent of the English monarchy, and many countless persecutions. It has been estimated that over 65,000,000 Christians have been martyred over the past two millenniums. And you know what, there are still 2,000,000,000 of them. It used to be that Christians were typically white people. But that is changing, worldwide, the average Christian is now a poor brown person.

Despite what Christians are told by the religious (and non religious) right, the United States is not nor has ever been a Christian nation. It was not founded as such, in fact, Thomas Jefferson looked forward to the day when people didn't believe in Jesus. They were deists, who wanted freedom of religion, which is a noble cause, but they were not Christians, and I would never have most of them speak at my church. Most of them wouldn't come to my church.

As a Christian, you can never ever trust any human government. But unless they want to force you to disobey God's law, then you must obey them. If that means we end up communist, then so be it. If we end up socialist, then so be it.

The US is $9,147,367,793,650.88 in debt. The estimated population of the United States is 303,859,060 so each citizen's share of this debt is $30,103.98. How much fun would it be if you had that much debt hanging over your household? If you have a household of four, then your debt is over $120,000. That's on top of your mortgage and other bills. What am I saying here? Debt is not a Christian value. Check the US national debt clock. It went up $300,000,000 whilst I was writing this.

Jesus said "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more." Luke 12:4 Who has the right to reign? Who shall we fear? Don't fear mortal governments and temporal inconveniences. You are not only right by putting your trust in Jesus, but you need fear nothing. So who cares if the NAU is a reality or not. It really doesn't matter. George W. Bush is not in charge, Vincente Fox is not in charge, Queen Elizabeth II (the technical ruler of Canada) is definitely not in charge. Jesus is in charge.

Just the facts ma'am.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Urban Green Vs. Rural Green

I was talking to a friend of mine last Tuesday, and I was telling her how I was cutting down some trees on my property. She seemed disapproving, and was kind of having the opinion that I shouldn’t cut down trees at all. Now I don’t know if she was joking or what, but she is quite environmentally conscious so for a bit, I’d like to explore what I like to think of as the differences in philosophy of Urban Green and Rural Green.

Of course, as a human, I am not free from bias, and anyone who thinks they are is deluding themselves, so I’ll just step right up and say that I am Rural Green, and am likely never to be Urban Green unless God decides I should be. I do not think that Rural Green is better than Urban Green, I don’t really take sides, all I am doing here is just saying that there are differences in philosophies and practices. Certainly both urbanites and ruraliens must be green, but by necessity, they need to be green in different ways, and different personalities and ways of life are involved.

First some definitions:

Urban Greenies are those environmentally conscious people who live in or close to cities. They typically have very little acreage to work with, likely drive small or even electric cars, are focused on minimizing consumption and increasing efficiency.

Rural Greenies are those environmentally conscious folk who live out in the country, or have some land closer to the city. They have some land, at least big enough for a substantial garden, may own a larger vehicle for farm work, but like the Urbans, try to minimize consumption and increase efficiency. They often own a number of outdoor power tools like lawnmowers, rototillers, weed eaters, chainsaws, and the like.

I am of the latter persuasion, though my pickup is of the compact variety.

The Philosophies:

Urbans are very much recyclers. They shop at organic food places, and will tend to be trendy in their groups of like minded people. They were the first to use CFLs and are the first using LEDs. They may live in apartments, sharing walls with others and saving energy by keeping everything small and together. They are the greatest share of environmental activists, those who show up at protests and rallies. They believe trees are inherently good. They often are politically active, and some dream of becoming Rural Greenies.

Rurals do not always have recycling available to them. They may grow their own organic food or get some from neighbors. They tend to be ok with being alone and enjoy working on their “farms.” They often own farm type animals such as chickens and the like depending on land availability. They tend to be very practical, often building their own systems for sustainability. They make less money. They believe the land should be used sustainably, and believe in using renewable resources like wood for heat. They are not always politically active, but write the best articles and books about what they do.

Alright so what about the question of trees that my buddy had?

Well, it goes like this. Trees are good for removing pollution, they hold the soil, they provide shelter for animals, they hold hammocks. But they also make heat. And that is one reason why I am cutting SOME of mine down. That and I need grass to make compost, and space for a future orchard and garden expansion. Trees are a resource. Like coal, only trees grow back. Environmentally speaking, in Arkansas, most energy comes from coal, and if I can heat my house without using coal, then all the better for me and the rest of the world. I grew up in a house with no central heating, only wood stoves. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that my dad installed a big swamp cooler (evaporative cooler) on the roof that we had any kind of central cooling. Consequently, even though my dad has a big shop and runs all sorts of large electrical equipment all the time, and a well pump, his power bills are always lower than mine, and my house is about two thirds the size of his and I don’t have any big electrical equipment.

Conclusion. I don’t know, I don’t really have one. I guess we all need to understand that there are different strokes for different folks. I have hundreds of trees, I have a big garden, I am planting more trees this spring, I have a bunch of grass, I think overall my carbon footprint (right) is fine. My stuff absorbs more pollution than I make, I’m not worried about it. I don’t wanna get negative, but urban greenies don’t really understand that they only consume, and that we not only consume but also produce. Without the Rurals, the Urbans wouldn’t really make a difference because they only use, if they only use less, they still use, it takes production to support consumption.

The trees produce, I consume, then I make sure that the trees can produce again. It’s called sustainability. It’s what God put us here for.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Starve the World to Feed Your SUV

If you've not read it already, read the article in the post below this one.

Done? Ok, lets do this.

The argument that biofuels can cause starvation in third world countries and even in our own is a valid one. So what do we do about it? Find new fuel sources. If you look to the left, you will see a Tesla Roadster. It's an electric car, not a biodiesel car, not an ethanol car, not even a hydrogen car. And Electricity we can get from other places than crops and fossil fuels, but it will take a lot of work. In order to operate this or any other country on electricity, we must have either vast amounts of generation, or we must curb our current usage.

I for one am trying to do both. Curbing usage is the quickest way. Obtaining efficient appliances and extra insulation and better windows is quite a bit cheaper than buying solar panels or wind turbines to make more electricity.

Our next big fixes are two main things, a new refrigerator, and much more insulation in the attic. Our fridge is old, real old, it collects water on the door seals and runs all the time. I don't know how much power exactly it is using, but I would submit that it is a significant amount. A more efficient one would pay for itself in a reasonably short time. As for the insulation, that would pay for itself in a reasonably short time as well. There is only about 6 inches of rock wool insulation in the attic. What I need is according to my calculations, about 14 inches of blown cellulose. That should more than double my current R value in the ceiling, enhancing comfort, allowing temperatures to dwindle slower when the programmable thermostat turns the temperature down ten degrees at night, and most importantly, allowing us to expend smaller amounts of energy.

So what about the real problem of biofuels? As a Jesus Freak, I must be concerned about people first, always people first, and people are gonna die of starvation before they die of most other things. In America, we can stand to eat less food in general, we have plenty of unused land, and we can stand to eat less corn fed chicken and beef, because farming meat wastes resources anyway. But in other countries where an ear of corn can keep you alive another day, I cannot see how it helps anyone to let people die, whether for the cause of energy independence or for simple profit.

People come first, always people first.

Biofuels Could Kill More People Than the Iraq War

My brother sent me this article, it is a great read, and raises a very important question. You should also check out a message by Matt Krick and Rob Bell entitled "The New Seatbelt" from the eponymous "God is Green" series earlier this year.

If you take some time, you'll notice that I spend more time touting renewable electricity generating technologies a bit more than biofuels, and partially for this reason.

Well talk some more later, enjoy.

Biofuels Could Kill More People Than the Iraq War
By George Monbiot, Posted November 10, 2007.

It doesn't get madder than this. Swaziland is in the grip of a famine and receiving emergency food aid. Forty per cent of its people are facing acute food shortages. So what has the government decided to export? Biofuel made from one of its staple crops, cassava. The government has allocated several thousand hectares of farmland to ethanol production in the county of Lavumisa, which happens to be the place worst hit by drought. It would surely be quicker and more humane to refine the Swazi people and put them in our tanks. Doubtless a team of development consultants is already doing the sums.

This is one of many examples of a trade described last month by Jean Ziegler, the UN's special rapporteur, as "a crime against humanity." Ziegler took up the call first made by this column for a five-year moratorium on all government targets and incentives for biofuel: the trade should be frozen until second-generation fuels -- made from wood or straw or waste -- become commercially available. Otherwise the superior purchasing power of drivers in the rich world means that they will snatch food from people's mouths. Run your car on virgin biofuel and other people will starve.

Even the International Monetary Fund, always ready to immolate the poor on the altar of business, now warns that using food to produce biofuels "might further strain already tight supplies of arable land and water all over the world, thereby pushing food prices up even further." This week the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation will announce the lowest global food reserves in 25 years, threatening what it calls "a very serious crisis." Even when the price of food was low, 850 million people went hungry because they could not afford to buy it. With every increment in the price of flour or grain, several million more are pushed below the breadline.

The cost of rice has risen by 20% over the past year, maize by 50%, wheat by 100%. Biofuels aren't entirely to blame -- by taking land out of food production they exacerbate the effects of bad harvests and rising demand -- but almost all the major agencies are now warning against expansion. And almost all the major governments are ignoring them.

They turn away because biofuels offer a means of avoiding hard political choices. They create the impression that governments can cut carbon emissions and -- as Ruth Kelly, the British transport secretary, announced last week -- keep expanding the transport networks. New figures show that British drivers puttered past the 500 billion kilometer mark for the first time last year. But it doesn't matter: we just have to change the fuel we use. No one has to be confronted. The demands of the motoring lobby and the business groups clamouring for new infrastructure can be met. The people being pushed off their land remain unheard.

In principle, burning biofuels merely releases the carbon they accumulated when they were growing. Even when you take into account the energy costs of harvesting, refining and transporting the fuel, they produce less net carbon than petroleum products. The law the British government passed a fortnight ago -- by 2010, 5% of our road transport fuel must come from crops -- will, it claims, save between 700,000 and 800,000 tonnes of carbon a year. It derives this figure by framing the question carefully. If you count only the immediate carbon costs of planting and processing biofuels, they appear to reduce greenhouse gases. When you look at the total impacts, you find that they cause more warming than petroleum.

A recent study by the Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen shows that the official estimates have ignored the contribution of nitrogen fertilisers. They generate a greenhouse gas -- nitrous oxide -- which is 296 times as powerful as CO2. These emissions alone ensure that ethanol from maize causes between 0.9 and 1.5 times as much warming as petrol, while rapeseed oil (the source of over 80% of the world's biodiesel) generates 1-1.7 times the impact of diesel. This is before you account for the changes in land use.

A paper published in Science three months ago suggests that protecting uncultivated land saves, over 30 years, between two and nine times the carbon emissions you might avoid by ploughing it and planting biofuels(13). Last year the research group LMC International estimated that if the British and European target of a 5% contribution from biofuels were to be adopted by the rest of the world, the global acreage of cultivated land would expand by 15%. That means the end of most tropical forests. It might also cause runaway climate change.

The British government says it will strive to ensure that "only the most sustainable biofuels" will be used in the UK. It has no means of enforcing this aim -- it admits that if it tried to impose a binding standard it would break world trade rules. But even if "sustainability" could be enforced, what exactly does it mean? You could, for example, ban palm oil from new plantations. This is the most destructive kind of biofuel, driving deforestation in Malaysia and Indonesia. But the ban would change nothing. As Carl Bek-Nielsen, vice chairman of Malaysia's United Plantations Bhd, remarked, "even if it is another oil that goes into biodiesel, that other oil then needs to be replaced. Either way, there's going to be a vacuum and palm oil can fill that vacuum." The knock-on effects cause the destruction you are trying to avoid. The only sustainable biofuel is recycled waste oil, but the available volumes are tiny.

At this point the biofuels industry starts shouting "jatropha!" It is not yet a swear word, but it soon will be. Jatropha is a tough weed with oily seeds that grows in the tropics. This summer Bob Geldof, who never misses an opportunity to promote simplistic solutions to complex problems, arrived in Swaziland in the role of "special adviser" to a biofuels firm. Because it can grow on marginal land, jatropha, he claimed, is a "life-changing" plant, which will offer jobs, cash crops and economic power to African smallholders.

Yes, it can grow on poor land and be cultivated by smallholders. But it can also grow on fertile land and be cultivated by largeholders. If there is one blindingly obvious fact about biofuel it's that it is not a smallholder crop. It is an internationally-traded commodity which travels well and can be stored indefinitely, with no premium for local or organic produce. Already the Indian government is planning 14m hectares of jatropha plantations. In August the first riots took place among the peasant farmers being driven off the land to make way for them.

If the governments promoting biofuels do not reverse their policies, the humanitarian impact will be greater than that of the Iraq war. Millions will be displaced, hundreds of millions more could go hungry. This crime against humanity is a complex one, but that neither lessens nor excuses it. If people starve because of biofuels, Ruth Kelly and her peers will have killed them. Like all such crimes it is perpetrated by cowards, attacking the weak to avoid confronting the strong.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Future Fuels and Personal Standards.

Now in true virtue of combining blogs, the corresponding sustainable living discussions.

I know there are millions of statistics running around about all the stuff we have to do and the dangers of not, and the results, and costs.

I'm not going there today. I wanna talk about practices and philosophies and attitudes, not statistics and costs.

I was wandering through Lowe's the other day with my friend. We happened upon one of his friends (or acquaintances, not sure) while we were perusing through the CFLs and she was looking for light bulbs as well, and my friend suggested a CFL. She went on to explain that she was such a conservative that she just wanted to drive the biggest vehicle she could find, go home string up a million Christmas lights, turn the heat all the way up, and open all the doors and windows and watch her 8 foot wide plasma tv. Of course I'm exaggerating a bit, and I hope she was kidding because she really was looking at the CFLs, but it was the attitude that she had that really made me think. And thinking is what will solve the problem, not global warming, but of limited energy supplies. I've said it before, Arkansas has one wind turbine but is 27th in the nation for wind resources. We're surrounded by coal and natural gas power plants, and there's a nuke just down the highway. We do have a number of hydroelectric dams, but they are of limited elevation drop and therefore limited power. Their primary function is as sources for various water needs. The only solar panels I have seen lately are the ones that power the emergency roadside signs. The thing is, you can't burn coal or NG again, but the rain will bring us water again, and the winds will come again, and the sun will shine again.

So, how do we change things so that we can sustainably support ourselves as a culture? Some have said that we cannot support our current standard of living. That may be so. So, we change our standard of living. Standards are made to become more strict, a standard is a minimum requirement, and as time goes on, standards become more stringent. Examples: gas mileage, home insulation, safety belts, child car seats, wiring, plumbing, internet speeds, video quality (HDTV), bullet proof vests, helmets, airbags, buildings and structures, pollution restrictions, lead based paint, asbestos, fire retardants, CFCs, water quality, flammable Halloween costumes, fire suits for race car drivers, computer speeds, fuel quality, and bridge construction, need I go on? Our standard of living must not drop, because standards do not drop, our standards must be raised, but not in a way that we live more opulently, and more wastefully. Our standards must include those that are more efficient, they must include changing or altering our sources of energy, food, and leisure, and most of all, we must change our rate of consumption.

Consumption, what did Jesus think? Jesus was, more than most else, interested in how the poor were cared for. He railed against the wealthy religious leaders, said things like "It is difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven," and picked his disciples from among the working class. There is so much I could say, but I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

So, what did I say here? (Pauses to actually read what he wrote.)

Well let me say what I meant in the above paragraph. I am not saying that you cannot be rich. I say do it at your own risk, but the wealthy are in a position to do more than many of us can, both to make their lives more efficient, but also to help the rest of us by for instance helping the car companies decide to make more efficient cars, because though I'd like to, I cannot afford to build my own car right now.

Ok, the real conclusion. Raise your standard of living. Grow your own organic food. Insulate your house so it stays really warm in the winter and really cool in the summer without using any outside power. Raise your standards, don't go the cheap (actually more expensive {costly} in the long run) way, don't do what everyone else is doing (some of you reading this will not be in Arkansas and will be in a more environmentally conscious area, and for you, do some of what everyone else is doing)

Live the way you were meant to.

*Would I say God is on my side?
I might think it, but I won't say it, hopefully I'm on God's side.


Ok, I'm gonna rail on conservatives for a while.

Well, it goes like this. I listen to Rush Limbaugh from time to time, usually just to remind myself why I am not a republican. You see, to me it is weak to do and agree with anything someone tells you. And that's how it seems that Rush does things. If the Republicans are doing something, then it must be good and right and God's will. The thing is, Rush is not a Christian. He only invokes the name of God to further his own ends. He is a conservative Republican, not a Christian. I am a Christian, and he doesn't represent me.

I would submit that the Christian Right, long ago (I am young) has convinced many Christians that you have to be a republican to be a Christian, as if that is what God wants you to do. The problem is that those people, the politicians especially and to a lesser degree the televangelists do this sort of thing not because it is what God wants us to do, because biblically it is not, but to gain power and money because often they go hand in hand.

How is waterboarding not torture? How can torture be ok? What happened to the golden rule. Paul said we do not wage war like the world wages war, our battle not with people but with spiritual strongholds and powers. How can our politicians not get that? Knowing the way of things, how can a Christian become a soldier for this country? And yet, so many do, because they have been told that Christians are conservatives, and conservatives go to war.

Well, I'm here to tell you that you don't have to be a Conservative to be a Christian. You'll notice I rail more on Republicans than Democrats because most democrats dont pretend to be something their not, that is to say, they don't say they are Christians but give God a bad name, and that's really what I am disgusted with. Because our goal is not political power, it is to become Christlike. And Jesus never waterboarded anyone.

How about diving boards?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

It's Hard to Follow your Convictions.

As those of you who know us personally will soon find out, we are opting for a home birth because of a falling out with a doctor.

It happened yesterday at Willow Creek women's hospital. Well, more accurately, it happened at Park Hill Women's Clinic.

We had made out our birth plan, mentioning a few things such as we did not want to use Pitocin, or Cytotec, and a few other things. Dr. James Gorman M. D. decided not only not to work with us, but also not to allow us to dissent in any way from his staid medical opinion. It came to the point of him marking up our birth plan, and requiring that we initial each of the changes and sign it by tomorrow saying that we would allow the doctors to do what ever they pleased. Oh, and Dr. Bailey (the boss) backed him up.

Now I understand doctor's wish to keep everything under control and safe and what not, but stiffly not allowing a person to have a baby the way they want to? Patients have the right to refuse blood, refuse chemotherapy, refuse resuscitation, refuse anything we want to, but now we do not have the right to refuse to use a drug that on the label says not to be used with pregnant women?

Well F*** you and here's the finger.

So, home births right?

At least we'll get to use our video camera.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Important Question

Is it stealing? Is it a sin?

Lately, I have been swiping Jehovah's Witnesses printed materials from benches and bus stops and whatnot. Now, if I was actually interested in the material, this would be ok, but I'm not, well a little, but not for any eternal reasons.

The only reason I'm swiping all these Watchtowers and Awake!s is that I don't want anyone to read them, not just to hog them to myself, but i really dont want ANYONE to read them.'

Is it wrong to do this? I've asked several people, and have not gotten a straight answer. Here's my logic. It's not stealing because no one owns them, and they were left in the open for the specific purpose of being picked up by someone, however, not for the reasons I pick them up.

Anyway, I've decided that it is part of my covert plan to make sure there are fewer JW's in the future. Not that I want to kill them or anything, I just believe that their particular brand of religion is the same brand that Jesus decried when he said that the pharasees weighed the people down and didn't lift a finger to help them, and in the end, they were twice the sons of hell that the pharasees were. That's my perspective on the thing.

Have a great day, and throw some errant literature away today, it might save someone's soul.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Review of Serve God, Save the Planet by J. Matthew Sleeth MD

I'd just like to start out here by saying that this could be the best book you'll ever read in the realm of living simply and focusing on God. Huh? you say? Yes really.

But first, who is Dr. Sleeth?
Dr. Sleeth used to be the head of medicine or something like that for some big New England hospital. After he became a believer, he started looking into what might be called the "creation care" message, believing that God would want us to care for his creation. He decided to quit his job and pursue God's environmental message which has been so ignored in the American church but not interestingly in the world church. He sold his giant wealthy neighborhood house, and bought one the size of his former garage. He grows much of his own food, drives a hybrid (an Insight I believe) and has pared his energy usage and trash production down to around 1/10th of the average American.

Serve God, Save the Planet is not just an environmentalist book. It is yes, but I don't believe that is the main purpose. I believe the main purpose is to expose people to the joys of living more simply. The environmental kicker is a wonderful side effect. So it's a two in one, live more simply and be closer to God, and live more simply thereby using fewer resources and energy, in effect saving the planet.

As a Christian, in this view, saving the planet should not be the goal. Saving the planet should be the outworking of my pursuit of a relationship with God who would certainly appreciate us not trashing his wonderful creation. It's just like the faith vs. works discussion. Good works should be the outworking of faith, if you have not the former, the latter should be suspect, but it's the faith that is the most important factor. Just like the pursuit of God is the most important factor, the rest should just fall into place.

Really, how easy is it to seek God with materialism in the way all the time? It's like Jesus said, you will serve one while hating the other. And materialism is the greatest destructor of the environment at the present time. To own a modest car is not materialism, but to own an Escalade when a Corrolla will do, is. To have electricity is not materialism but to use two thousand kilowatt hours of electricity per month, when 200 will do is. To produce waste is not inherently wasteful, but to produce 50 lbs. per week when 5 will do, is. You see, materialism necessitates excess and waste, someone or something somewhere loses when you win. Water, energy, and cheap labor are all very dirty, and we in America produce all three in abundance, water and the pollution resulting from energy consumption travel essentially unhindered around the world, and that is also where the cheap labor is. In essence, we trade cheap products that fuel our materialism, for dirty air, dirty water, and little money to the people who make those products.

See where it is all coming together? God wants us to care for people, especially those less advantaged than ourselves, and through our materialism, we are doing the exact opposite of that, and in ignoring Gods mandate for people care, we also ignore his mandate for creation care, one of his very first mandates. The whole system is like a sphere with an infinite number of tangents. You can go any direction you want, but you are always based on the same center.

So, read the book, seek God, get rid of what you don't need, care for the poor, be content with what you have, learn to be content with less, live longer, be happier, go slower, do less, but in doing so, do more for eternity. Saving your soul goes hand in hand with saving the world, and everything and everyone in it.

Grace and Peace,

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Anointed Class Jehovah's Witnesses, God's Foot in the Door?

Jehovah's Witnesses belonging to the "Anointed Class" are the ones who have "heavenly hope," the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation. This class is supposed to be dying out. Their number was to be completed in 1935, however, there just seem to be several more who keep popping up every year. I believe this is God's covert operation to infiltrate Jehovah's Witnesses and draw some of them out by impressing upon them that they have the "heavenly hope" which what all real Christians have.

I was brushing up on my JWish lately, looking at a website called and was listening to a hidden microphone taping of a judicial hearing. The first thing I noticed was the absolute lack of independent thinking ability of the elders, I mean absolutely no imagination at all. The second thing was that the so called Anointed of the JW's tend to be looked down upon by other Witnesses, often disfellowshipped and made to feel not welcome. In fact, the guy who taped the meeting, Rick Fearon, was, with his wife, one of the anointed. They became such by an impression of the Holy Spirit that they had the heavenly hope. That hope led them to leave the Watchtower Society, and be disfellowshipped for some of their actions.

Now, I'll say right here that I don't agree with many of Mr. Fearon's tactics, threatening lawsuits, taping secret meetings and such, but I admire him for standing up for truth and exposing falsehood. I do totally understand his underhanded tactics however, you don't spend 50 years in prison without getting a few tattoos if you know what I mean.

Anyway, I have come to believe that the concept of the anointed class is God's infiltration into the organization, because we all know, it's not Yahweh God's Organization, it's Jehovah god's organization, and the problem with our Anglicized bastardization of God's name is what it really means in the original language. Hold on to your chairs now, in Hebrew, "Je-hovah" means "I am the destroyer."

Go Figure.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Another Post Regarding Jehovah's Witnesses and Stuff

I was talking to a guy this evening about translations of the Bible, and he had mentioned that he got some info from a University of Arkansas professor named Daniel Levine who happens to be Jewish (that's *not Christian* to any Witnesses reading this, so essentially free from that specific bias) and who has a B. A. degree in Greek and Latin and had commented on John 1:1. Now I've never thought of it this way before, having to argue the meanings of words and grammar and all, but when he looks at this verse (and not from a Christian perspective) he sees simple context, that being, that the author is talking about God, the God, and only God.

Anyway, there's a real live university professor who has a relatively unbiased opinion and a degree in Greek, which kinda negates Jason BeDuhn who doesn't have one and who was educated by a Christian founded University. I have a copy of the email and can quote Dr. Levine if anyone really needs to see it.

However, in my recent studies, I've come to the conclusion that arguing with Witnesses based on Scripture and reason are useless. They have their own version of both. Their "new light" stuff is particularly interesting. They claim that as time goes on, the light gets brighter and brighter leading toward the truth. Now in concept this is a fabulous idea. In practice however, it tends to fail as the Witnesses use it.

Lemme tell you about a great parallel that I read. Say your mother died when you were a child and your father tried to ease you into the truth because you were very young, and he didn't want to traumatize you. So over the years, he gradually told you more and more details about what happened. This makes sense in the "progressive light" model. The Watchtower's progressive light works a little more like this: same story, your mother dies when you are young, and your father wants to protect you from being traumatized, only story goes like this. You are three years old, your father tells you that your mother has gone away and won't come back. At 10 years old, he tells you that she died in a car accident. At 12 years old he tells you she didn't die after all and lives in Jersey. At 15 years old he tells you she died of cancer. At 17 years old, he tells you she died of alcoholism, and at 18 finally he tells you it was a murder suicide and that she killed your younger brother before taking her own life.

Which is the more logical definition of "progressive light?" The Watchtower's version of progressive light is not adding facts onto facts to build a newer more full version of the truth, it is to present ever more mutually exclusive "facts" and calling them "new light." If you take a minute to think for yourself about it, the first two presidents of the Watchtower Society would be disfellowshipped before they could take a step in the Kingdom Hall front door, and the third would be disfellowshipped before he could sit down. It's not that they have added truth upon truth, it is that with every new discovered "truth," they must progressively reject some older "truth." The problem with this is that the older "truth" is now falsehood, and that means that for a time, "Jehovah's Visible Organization" taught falsehood and false teachings and likely disfellowshipped people for not believing them. I cannot imagine Almighty Jehovah God himself allowing false teachings to so pervade his "only divine channel" to the point that false teachings were preached for over half of the organizations existence. Look inside the cover (or wherever it is) of the Awake! magazines for the "mission statement." It used to mention the generation alive at 1914. It doesn't anymore, why is that?

Real truth always builds on truth, and never contradicts previously established truth. For instance, Watchtower publications used to claim that as time went on, further evidence for the "torture stake" theory would be discovered. For obvious reasons, they no longer claim this. It has proved not to be true. Charles Taze Russell (founder and first president of the Watchtower) used to teach that the Great Pyramid was "God's stone witness," however later teachings "correctly" identify the pyramid as "Satan's stone witness." So whose is it?

Mistakes and corrections are different. I used to believe some things that I no longer do, but also, I no longer attend a church that teaches those things, and if still did, I would not be disfellowshipped from said church for said beliefs. And I don't think I was "lost" during those times either, but as I grew in the grace (undeserved kindness) and love (love) of Jesus Christ, he exposed me to things I had not considered before. It wasn't that the pyramid was God's witness and now it isn't anymore, it was that I could shed certain beliefs that were not necessary for salvation, an acceptance of grace and release of the law. A paring down of essentials, not continual rejection of the old and adoption of the new. The difference is that salvation is by grace, not by works or even sometimes certain beliefs. To be saved, it doesn't matter what I believe about blood, or Christmas, or Armageddon, or birthdays, or whether or not it was a cross or a stake.

With Christianity came a paradigm shift. It was based not on paganism, but Judaism, as Jesus was a Jew. Is it simple coincidence that Christmas falls at the same time as Hanukkah or winter solstice? Which came first? Solstice is a natural occurrence that has existed from the dawn of time, so how is it pagan just because pagans decide to hold celebrations on that day, God created it. Hanukkah however was a Jewish holiday commemorating the re-dedication of the temple after its desecration by Antiochus IV Epiphanes. It is even mentioned in the Bible in John when Jesus is in the Temple walking Solomon's Portico in winter. So as far as Christmas, who is copying who? Since Jesus was a Jew, and as such celebrated Hanukkah, I would vote that Satan copies God's people, not the other way around.

Peace be with you,

Sawdust Toilet Water Bill Update.

Got our water bill the other day, it was just over 2000 gallons for the month, that's a little over 30 gallons per person per day, which is about half the national average. And this with a daily sprinkler drip system that waters the tomatoes and strawberries as well as watering the outside potted plants when it doesn't rain!

This is Success!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

The KJV vs. the NIV - What Was Left Out?

I recently found some questions regarding the NIV, the challenge was to answer the following questions with the NIV, none of which you actually can because in the NIV, these are all correctly recognized as being of dubious origin or as scribal insertions. The idea here was that the KJV is more "accurate" than the NIV, but in fact, whoever wrote this just proves the shaky ground the KJV stands on. You see, you can't prove something with evidence that doesn't hold up in court, just like you cant expect a sweater vest to stop bullets like Kevlar can. So, here's a few little sarcastic answers to these questions.

Fill in the missing words in Matthew 5:44. "Love your enemies,__________ them that curse you, ______________ to them that hate you, and pray for them that __________ and persecute you." Does anyone know what "Some late manuscripts" means?

According to Matthew 17:21, what two things are required to cast out this type of demon?
Burgers and Fries. Only some manuscripts have this verse.

According to Matthew 18:11, why did Jesus come to earth?
We know why from other places, again only some manuscripts.

According to Matthew 27:2, what was Pilate's first name?
Pontius is a title, not a name people, besides, would it matter if his name were Bob? Yep, there's ol' Bob Pilate, he can grill up some goooood steak, uh huh.

In Matthew 27:35, when the wicked soldiers parted His garments, they were fulfilling the words of the prophet.
Sure were, I wonder which one. See the Book of David. Right after Second Bill.

Copy what the prophet said in Matthew 27:35 from the NIV.
You'd have to check with the prophet himself, Matt here didn't see fit to include it.

In Mark 3:15, Jesus gave the apostles power to cast out demons and to: ____________ Bust a move. We know they can heal from other places.

According to Mark 7:16, what does a man need to be able to hear?
Uh, feet? Seriously, does Mark really need to tell me what appendages I need to be able to hear?

According to Luke 7:28, what was John? (teacher, prophet, carpenter, etc.). What is his title or last name?
Does it matter, or should we name him after what he did? Then would it matter?

In Luke 9:55, what did the disciples not know?
Know? Know what? Jesus rebuked them, they obviously didn't know something.

In Luke 9:56, what did the Son of man not come to do? According to this verse, what did He come to do?
Is he supposed to save? That's what it says elsewhere.

In Luke 22:14, how many apostles were with Jesus?
Does it matter? How many are often included in "The Apostles."

According to Luke 23:38, in what three languages was the superscription written?
I guess three languages would make it a pretty big sign, it wouldn't leave any room for Jesus' head.

In Luke 24:42, what did they give Jesus to eat with His fish?

John 3:13 is a very important verse, proving the deity of Christ. According to this verse (as Jesus spoke), where is the Son of man?
If it don't belong there, it don't prove nothin'.

What happened each year as told in John 5:4?
Hanukkah. I'd have said Christmas, but this fits so much better.

In John 7:50, what time of day did Nicodemus come to Jesus?
Earlier, like the text says.

In Acts 8:37, what is the one requirement for baptism?
Water, I guess.

What did Saul ask Jesus in Acts 9:6?
He didn't have to ask, Jesus told him.

Write the name of the man mentioned in Acts 15:34.
Either "they" or "the brothers" take your pick.

Study Acts 24:6-8. What would the Jew have done with Paul?
Would 'a' could 'a' should 'a'.

What was the chief captain's name? What did the chief captain command?
Who really knows seeing as how it wasn't recorded?

Copy Romans 16:24 word for word from the NIV.
It’s not there, know why?Because only SOME manuscripts contain it.Additionally, it is not doctrinally significant in any way anyway.

First Timothy 3:16 is perhaps the greatest verse in the New Testament concerning the deity of Christ. In this verse, who was manifested in the flesh?
He. Who do you think?

In the second part of First Peter 4:14, how do [they] speak of Christ? And, what do we Christians do?
Oh, the usual.

Who are the three Persons of the Trinity in First John 5:7?
Not sure, that verse was added well over a thousand years after the time of Christ.

Revelation 1:11 is another very important verse that proves the deity of Christ. In the first part of this verse Jesus said, "I am the A______________ and O___________, the _________ and the _______:"
Again, if it don't belong there, it don't prove a thing.

That's the whole flaw in the King James Only argument. You can use whatever verse you want to prove whatever you want, but at the end of the day, if those verses were not in the original manuscripts, and don't belong there, then all you have proven is how foolish you look using a Bible written in a language you don't speak. The only King James Bible I have is a Spanish version, and I looked up these verses in that. The thing is, I know about as much Spanish as King James Only people know 1611 English. You see, language evolves over time, and even the King James we have today is not the same one they had. For instance, the original KJV had no letter J, and included the Apocrypha, and you don't see anyone trying to roll back to those do you.

Love the one you're with, Sword that is,

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Most Accurate Bible Translation Question on Jeopardy with Alex Trebek and Jehovah's Witnesses Apparent Continual Spreading of this Myth, +Jason BeDuhn

WOW, I have gotten so many, I repeat MANY searches directed to this blog on this question. I did a quick search myself and discovered that my blog is the second in line on GOOGLE on this subject.

You can check the archives for this blog for the email forward I received from my cousin. He is a Jehovah's Witness, and apparently received this email from someone else, likely a JW also. Seeing all of you here leads me to believe you either got the same email or one similar.

Now, I'd love to go into just how many issues I have with the New World Translation of the Bible, however, there are just so many questionable verses, it would be exhausting to explore them all. This is a quick and simple post, so please don't leave a bunch of comments about how I've not done my research.

Many well educated scholars have called the NWT a poor translation, a woeful mistranslation, and a few other choice words I'll not mention here. Some others, very minor controversial scholars have praised it kinda. For instance, an Arizonan professor, Dr. Jason BeDuhn recently wrote a book in which he praised the NWT as the best translation. This is what you might have heard about in those annoying email forwards. This would be a compelling case, however Dr. BeDuhn also had some sharp criticism toward the NWT for it's insertion of Jehovah into the text where it otherwise does not exist. You would not know this however because Jehovah's Witnesses don't point that out for obvious reasons. I could provide a list, but facts are, BeDuhn is in the minority opinion, extreme minority.

Anyway, on to the issue of the Jeopardy Question.

I cannot find any evidence that the question about whether the most accurate version of the Bible is on Jeopardy ever occurred. Honestly, I don't expect to. I seriously doubt a secular game show would ever touch the question. Surely, if such a question ever existed, (I recieved the email months ago) it would have appeared on YouTube by now, which it hasn't, and you can do your own search, but I didn't find it.

So, is the NWT the most accurate "translation" of the Bible? In a word, no.

Why? Very simple. It is not true to the words in the original text. You see, I'd have much less discomfort with Witnesses and their bible if they simply translated the text true to the words and then took their own meaning from it. This however, is not what they do, they translate a meaning into the text when that is not the role of translation. Here's an example: John 8:58. Jesus says "Before Abraham was, I am." Look at the "I am" part. That's the key. You see, that is a direct allusion to Exodus 3:14 where Moses asks God what his name is and he says "I am." The NWT changes both of these, John to "I have been" and Exodus to "I shall prove to be." The problem is that the very same I am that Jesus uses in this case is the very same I am that he uses when he says I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life, and I am the good Shepherd among others, even in the same chapter. You see, the pharisees and such knew that Jesus was claiming to be God when he said that, that's why they tried to kill him. And that single verse represents everything that I dislike about the NWT. It's not simple prejudice or some misguided religious fanaticism, the NWT is simply not true to the words of the text, forget what the text means, it's not true to the words of the text. There are 237 examples specifically. The divine name never appears in any manuscript of the New Testament, but it appears in the NWT 237 times. It's not in the originals, therefore it should not be there. It's as simple as that.

So what is a good version of the Bible to read? Just about any one that suits you except the NWT. I myself prefer the English Standard Version, because it tries to follow the subtle nuances of the original text even following some grammatical errors. There are a few places where I disagree with the translation because of the use of specific words or phrases which I think are significant, but even in those places, it still has the notes at the bottom that says what the word for word translation or alternate translations are. Otherwise, if you'd like to get a good idea of the original text, or just a good read, get a parallel edition that has two to four versions side by side. But honestly, any version that does not confuse the reader with ancient language (KJV) or obscure the truth (NWT) is a good version. It used to be that people complained about the KJV because you couldn't understand it, but that is no longer an excuse.

So that's all I got to say about that, for now. Keep studying, keep checking. Email forwards are almost invariably dishonest. No Jeopardy question by Alex Trebek, Jason BeDuhn is in the minority opinion, and the New World Translation is NOT the most accurate "translation" of the Bible. Much more to be said, but this is just a quick post that explores a single verse, and points out the obviousness of the Jeopardy! question. Please do read other posts on the subject, there are several.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What Would Jesus Do: Review of God's Politics: Why the Right gets it Wrong, and the Left Doesn't Get it. By Jim Wallis

Ok, I'll go right out and say it, if you are a Christian, or a Jew, or a Liberal, or a Conservative, or a Human, this could quite possibly be the best political book you will ever read. If you are not political, this book could make you political, but the best thing about it is this: It will make you Political in the best way.

I first became familiar with Jim Wallis while watching some videos on the Veritas Forum. What he said just struck a chord with me. I had been listening to conservative talk radio, and I did not like all that I heard, you see, I like listening to Christians, and when you listen to talk radio, you get not Christians, but conservatives. Republicans are not necessarily Christians, though they have courted the Christian vote for decades. The rhetoric of the "Christian Right" has become quite pervasive in our culture, seemingly only concerned about issues of abortion and gay marriage on the moral front while giving tax breaks for the rich and slowly dismantling the safety nets under the poor. This is the "How the Right gets it Wrong" part of the subtitle.

But then, the Democrats have often steered me the wrong way as well. They support the poor, but seem determined to remove God from public life. I've heard politicians say things like "I believe in God, but it won't affect my political stance." What do you think about a person like that? Do I really want to vote for someone who does not always act according to their beliefs? Do I want to support someone who wants people to be able to legally kill their babies? Do I want to support someone who would like to remove any representation of Christianity from the public view? This is how "the Left doesn't get it." The answer to bad religion is not no religion, it's good religion.

The politics that Jim Wallis offers us is what he calls prophetic. Not prophetic in the sense of the prediction of the future, but prophetic in the sense of what the Biblical prophets did the most often, and that was to tell God's truth. To tell the people to shape up, to not take advantage of the poor, not to defraud widows and orphans (pronounced single mothers and children without fathers.) Prophets insisted on justice, and that the blessings of God be spread around more or less evenly. This is the kind of politics that Rev. Wallis wants us to believe in. The the belief that says we've had enough of trying to clean up the trash of the world without trying to figure out who's dumping the crap here to begin with.

Also Rev. Wallis asks us what Jesus would do. The Right would like us to believe that Jesus is pro rich, pro war, and only pro American. Over 30,000 children around the world die of starvation each day, and we are supposed to be concerned about capital gains tax? You see, it's not that there is any shortage of food or water in the world, it's that there is a shortage of people who care enough to give it to someone who needs it. Millions of women still die of complications in child birth, the vast majority could be prevented by modern medicine. Wars still rage in the poorest countries in the world because of stupid things like diamonds and money. And there is still the epidemic of HIV/AIDS.

Wallis tells us that the monologue of the Right wing is over. I think it is close, but not quite there yet. Our current presidential situation is a bad one, and hopefully it will be over soon, but it seems that on so many fronts, we have lost ground instead of gained it, not only as a country in a world, but as a faith. I want to see Prophetic Politics gain some ground, not a politics of complaining about problems and passing the blame to the other party, but a politics of solutions, of ideas to fix problems, not just to throw money at problems, but to guide passionate people into their life work of helping other people. Because I think it's what Jesus came to do, help people, and not the rich ones, but the ones who really need it. The poor.

In conclusion, I'd recommend this book to anyone, especially if you have become discouraged by the current political climate. It is a pretty long book, it took me quite a while to read, much longer than normal and you can tell just by the last time I did a book review, but it is well worth it. It's a great book written by a man fully qualified to write it. It will change your view of things.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Radiant Barrier Insulation in the Bathroom.

As I mentioned before, a statistic I read said that 70 % of the heat lost out of an average house is lost due to radiant heat loss. Now I know that most of that is windows, but there are significant other "holes" elsewhere in the house.

Knowing this and having a remodel project, I decided to incorporate some of this technology into my construction. I purchased two rolls of radiant barrier insulation from and I placed some in the floor I was replacing. I did this to see if it made any difference in the heat retention of the bathroom tile once that gets in. I am sure some of you know the horrors of cold tile floor in the morning.
Next I placed some around where the tub will be. I have lived in a couple of houses that for various reasons lost a ton of heat out of the bathtub. As a fan of long baths (get your money's worth from the water and the heat) I didn't like that, so I thought this might be a good idea. I've only had one bath so far, but I think it has worked well, it definitely does keep the heat a little better. however, I cannot be exactly sure in a scientific way because I never bathed in this tub without the radiant barrier. I do know for sure though that the radiant barrier works because as I was putting it up on the ceiling before the drywall, I could most definitely feel the difference between the area with the barrier and the area without as the heat beat down on me through the roof a few feet above.

The real test will be when I put the radiant barrier in the attic, either on the underside of the roof, or over the insulation, or both. Either way, I am hoping for a reduction in heating and cooling bills. And if I ever get to build my dream house, this stuff will be all over it.


Sawdust Toilet Pictures!!!

At long last, I have pictures of the sawdust toilet. These were taken the day I finished it. It's a beauty, works like a charm, and the compost is getting nice and hot. Enjoy!

It is made of thick oak plywood, with a solid oak seat with brass hinges, and stainless steel hinges on the box lid. The bucket it is sitting on is a regular 5 gallon bucket that is used under the seat.

My wife has been pleasantly surprised at the lack of odor other than that of sawdust, and if I can convince my wife to use this thing, you can convince yours. It's really an excellent sustainable idea that eliminates contamination of groundwater and loss of nutrients into the water table.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Why I Believe in the Trinity

I was challenged recently by a Jehovah's Witness to explain the Trinity because I had consistently asserted that Jehovah's Witnesses have a horrible time understanding it. Here is the lion's share of my response edited so as to not be directed at any one person or group.

Sometimes when I say I don’t believe in the Trinity I don’t mean that I don’t believe in the Trinity. The words I use are something like “I personally believe that God is so much further beyond a simple one word definition than we can even understand, but Trinity is as close as many people can get”. For instance, I hold to the majority of what the creeds (Nicene, Athanasian, Apostle’s, etc.) say but I would say that I hold to none of them, because I believe not in models of doctrines, but in methods of study. “Models” cause us to play loose with Biblical interpretation, but proper methods of biblical and historical interpretation reveal the truth.

Now, I will mention of the word catholic a few times but don’t be put off by it. Catholic means universal, where as Roman Catholic is what he pope is.

The first use of the word “Trinity” came from a guy named Tertullian who lived from 155-230, long before the Nicene Council codified the creed in 325. However, the concept existed before him. He would not have needed a word for a concept that didn’t exist. In fact the concept had existed since before the temple fell in 70 AD when most of the apostles were still alive. The Didache (70 AD) mentions the Trinitarian formula for baptism. Ignatius of Antioch (35-107) who was a student of the Apostle John, and was appointed to the see of Antioch by Peter himself, speaks of the Father, Son and Spirit as equal and separate entities in several of his epistles. Justin Martyr (100-165) places the Father in first place, the Son in second place and the Spirit in third place. Theophilus of Antioch who died before 185 used the concept of the trinity before the word was created, in fact the in contemporary translated works, most authors translate the word he uses into the word trinity because it fits so closely to the doctrine of the trinity. Irenaeus who was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John continues down the same road, and espoused the same three part formula. He also said “Whatever is begotten of God is God.” Then came Tertullian who coined the word Trinity. Origin (185-254) said that the Father, Son, and Spirit were all eternal, and spoke of the Trinity. Hippolytus of Rome who died in 235 said “…also the Word is God, being the being of God.” Novatian who died in 258 wrote that Jesus was God and also the Son of God, and spoke of Jesus as being God and man. Pope Dionysus who died in 268 wrote against people who spoke of there being three gods rather than one. He also said it was blasphemy to say that the Son was created. Gregory the Wonderworker (213-270) in his Declaration of Faith espoused exactly what people today do, that there is one God, a Trinity, who is forever existent. And the kicker is that all this was before the Nicene Creed, when many people say the “Trinity” came to be.

Here is how I understand the concept of the Trinity. Understand that I am not arguing from a majority Christian viewpoint, but from what I believe is defensible using the Bible only.

Before we get to it though, I must make a few points. Firstly, how I define God matters not. God can no more be defined by me than you can. God is self defining as a being self aware and with freedom of choice. We can only define someone as much as we can recognize them when we see them, or we can recognize their work or writings when we see those. Secondly, I don’t believe in “Jehovah, Jesus and the Holy Spirit” as the Jehovah’s Witnesses do. The Bible says Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one (feel free to insert Jehovah, I do sometimes to hear how Witnesses might say it). Jehovah (or probably better Yahweh) is God, and there is only one God, and no other gods. It is of the essence of Jehovah (Yahweh) that the Father, the Son and the Spirit Exist. The Father does not equal Jehovah as Witnesses see it.

Best put I think is this: The rope of the Trinity contains three strands. First, there is only one God, second, the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God and third, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not the same but distinct. Don’t bump me for plagiarism here, I admit it, many of these concepts are borrowed from other writers but I have tried to explain it in a way that is original as possible. I am sure those writers borrowed some of their ideas from other writers because the whole thing goes back a long way.

Let’s explore these three strands Biblically. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, which is a corruption of the other two, are all fiercely monotheistic. Isaiah 43:10 says, “Before me, no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am Jehovah (Yahweh or the LORD,) and besides me there is no savior.” I think we can all agree that the Bible claims only one God. Second, there are loads of places where the three are declared to be completely and fully God. Paul says “there is but one God, the Father” (1 Cor. 8:6). The Father, speaking of the Son says, “your throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Hebrews 1:9). And in Acts 5, when Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit, Peter declares “You have not lied to men but to God.” Thirdly, we see a number of clear portrayals of relationships between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father and the Son love one another, and speak to one another (John 17:1-26) and together send the Holy Spirit (John 15:26). Modalism, Oneness or Sebellianism says that the three are one who merely fulfills three purposes at different times, but this makes no sense because of these obvious relationships. And the three separate beings of the godhead in Mormonism is clearly polytheism.

So what was the incarnate Jesus? I believe that people are body-spirit unities. When we die, our body is separated from our spirit, but our spirit is not a thing or does not have place and time like our body does. Just as God is Spirit, as the Bible says his followers worship him in spirit and in truth, he is omnipresent, or is present everywhere, or perhaps nowhere because he is spirit. So humans are an image of God, not because they look like him because he doesn’t have a “look” (indeed, we are close enough to monkeys or other animals) but because we are in spirit, like him, in his image because without a body, he has no physical image. Jesus, in the only way he could take our place as an atonement sacrifice, was to be exactly like us, consisting of a body and a spirit, only his spirit or essence was that of the almighty Yahweh (Jehovah.) That’s why Christians claim that Jesus was the God/man, fully God, yet fully man, being like man having a body and a spirit. Thus when Jesus was resurrected he told his disciples that a spirit did not have flesh and blood as they clearly saw that he had, and when he was taken into heaven, he remained as a body spirit unity, he could not have shed his earthly body after telling his disciples that he had one because that would make him a deceiver. Like saying “see, I told you I had a body” just to get rid of it when nobody was looking.

Some questions I’ve heard:

  1. Are the three separate individuals with separate feelings etc.?

Yes and no. From eternity past, God was a perfect unity and communion of love and fellowship. If Jesus was at some point created, then for an eternity past beyond that Jehovah was alone. When the Word came to earth, he spent a huge amount of time by himself communing with the Father through the Spirit. There are a number of accounts of him getting up early in the morning or going up a mountain to pray. So on earth, he lacked that constant communion. He was therefore at times not in perfect communion and in reality as a human was not able to be infinite in any way, as we are not. He therefore was able not to know the day or the hour of his coming, something you would expect that God would know. But now that he has returned to sit at the right hand of the Father (figuratively since a spirit has no hands) he once again is in constant communion however he retains his human body and will return in the same way that his followers saw him go at the resurrection at the end.

  1. Equal in power?

Not so much when Jesus was on earth. But united in power now, there is no difference in power, infinite is infinite, you can’t have a third of an infinity. There is no reason for God’s power to be divided. Certainly if God is perfectly just then all decisions he would make would be equal, congruent, and synergistic. Rain all falls in the same direction eventually right?

  1. Equal in authority?

See #2. See also Matthew 28:18 which Jesus spoke after his resurrection. Some translations use Power synonymous with Authority.

  1. Always existed, none created?

Yes, as I said before, if at any point in history, whether it be a gazillion years ago or last week, the Word was created, then for an eternity past beyond that, Jehovah was alone. A God that desires to be in communion with his creation just does not seem like he spent an eternity completely alone to me.

  1. Physically separate bodies?

Spirit is not physical. Category mistake. Check the Jehovah’s Witness tract “Should You Believe in the Trinity?” Look for a statue of three bearded men with only four legs between them. Not like that. According to Jesus, spirits do not have flesh and blood, no bodies. If you do not have this tract, get one, everyone should have one. It is available online.

  1. Fleshly or spirit?

I guess you could say some of both. The Father and Holy Spirit were never flesh. However Jesus retains his human body.

  1. Spirit is person or what?

As much as the others are. Though in the case of the Spirit, as with the others, there is a difference in work. Jesus said that when he went he would send the Comforter. I don’t believe a person can be comforted by something that cannot empathize, and impersonal force. And if Jesus had meant that he’d send the Father to comfort, that would create a few problems because the Father sends the Son and the Spirit, not the other way around. Plus, he could have just said that. Many people seem to ignore the Father and the Spirit, however, you must realize that many do not. There are a great number of churches and denominations who put a much greater emphasis on the works of the Holy Spirit. I personally was taught to begin my prayers with “Our Father in Heaven.”

The Roman Catholic religion was not the only one that existed from the time when Constantine was alive. In fact there have always been either sects separate or people who wanted to be separate from the Roman church. The council of Nicaea was an ecumenical council convened to try to come to an agreement on some divergent beliefs. The biggest one in particular was the question of whether Jesus was of the same substance as the Father, or of similar substance. Arius (from which is derived the term Arianism, the belief that Jesus was created) took the opposing view. The end vote was something like 318 to 2. This doesn’t seem like tattered remnants of Christianity to me, but more like a gathering of Bishops (not like today’s Bishops, but what you might call church elders) who really just wanted to rein in the wild ideas of some.

Far from it being formed by Constantine, the council was convened by Constantine upon the recommendation of a bishop named Hosius of Cordoba. And far from being based upon Pagan beliefs and customs, it affirmed the Christian faith that already existed. Arianism was the minority dissenting opinion, it was said to have been causing much strife in the newly legalized Christendom. Additionally, even the condemnations handed down by the Council to the Arians were later all but rescinded by Constantine himself, allowing nearly all of those exiled to return. After Constantine’s death in 337 his son, Constantius II encouraged the Arians to attempt to reverse the Nicene Creed. To that end, he used his power to exile bishops who would not accept the Arian point of view, especially Athanasius from whom the Athanasian Creed takes its name. He even exiled Pope Liberius and installed Antipope Felix II. The whole thing got way messier than it had been before Nicaea. Jerome even remarked that the world “awoke with a groan to find itself Arian.”

When Constantius died in 361, he was replaced with Julian who followed the Roman gods. He allowed exiled bishops to return and cause even more confusion and dissent. Julian was then replaced by Valens who supported the Arian point of view, and renewed the persecution of the Nicenes, exiling bishops and using force. It wasn’t until 378 and Emperor Theodosius I that a Nicene Emperor returned to the throne. It was during his reign that the second Nicene Creed was completed that added the section on the Holy Spirit to the original. Theodosius somehow convinced the dissenting bishops to agree to the Creed despite a great portion of the population still adhering to Arianism. This was the end of the dispute in the Roman Empire at the time.

The debate still raged among the Germanic tribes however. The Germanic ruling class were Arians while the populace were Nicene. Arianism didn’t die out in popular belief in the Germanic tribes until the 8th century.

So, as you can see, according to history there were no tattered remnants of Christianity, no pagan beliefs melded with Christian beliefs, and Christianity as the state religion didn’t come around until much later in 391 under the edict of Theodosius I. It wasn’t Constantine at all, in fact under Julian, the state religion was returned to the old Neo-Platonic Hellenism in the early 360’s. At the council of Nicaea, Christianity was as strong as ever, and was getting stronger, recovering from persecution. The Nicene Creed didn’t introduce anything. It was an attempt by the church leaders at large to unify the people under common belief and expunge something that was causing serious problems among the people. It was an attempt, and unsuccessful attempt at that. Remember, the word Trinity had been coined back around 200 by Tertullian.

Jehovah’s Witnesses say that the Trinity is a mystery to those who invented it, but who invented it? The Roman Catholic Church as we know it today didn’t exist at the time of the creation of the concept of the Trinity. Tertullian didn’t think it was a mystery, nor did the rest of the persecuted Christians from the time of Christ until Constantine and beyond. You see, a persecuted church doesn’t have time to quibble about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. In a persecuted church, you are either a true believer or you are not, there is none of the apathy like in American Christianity today when the church is persecuted.

This is why I believe in the Trinity. History shows it, the Bible shows it, and the Spirit tells of it. I’m not one of those Christians with the Sunday hand-me-down faith. I don’t have the faith of my fathers, I have sought and found my own. Faith in the Living God, in the Gospel once and for all delivered to the Saints, and in Jesus Christ, the Savior and Lord of all.

Peace and Love