Thursday, October 4, 2012

Striving Against the Right Wing in Christianity

I don't know how Christians think they are supposed to reach the unbelieving world when they constantly belittle and disrespect the unbelievers in their own country.

 Forget for a second, the ideology.  Forget the opinion that business should be of primary importance in the economy.  Forget the view that government should operate with no debt.  Forget the idea that greed is good or that poor people are moochers or that black people only vote for Obama because he's black.  Forget all that.

How do you reach someone?  How do you get someone to come over to your point of view.  How do you dispel myths about your position and draw people into your enlightened way of being?  Do you do it through insults?  Do you mock them into seeing things your way?

 Jesus said you are supposed to love them and by your love, they will know that you are his disciples.  And he was all about making new disciples.  'Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them all that I have commanded you, and I will be with you always.'

For some reason, and I can't figure out why this is the case, but people who call themselves Christians are making right asses of themselves today.  Assume for a minute that their political opponents, the Democrats are among the unbelievers they should be so desperate to lead to Christ.  Then why are they so vehement in their ridicule and dishonorable speech?

 I don't say these things lightly.  I have struggled with calling myself a Christian for several years now, going back and forth.  Today one of my pastors compared our president Barack (a name which means blessing) Obama to Chewbacca from Star Wars.  Why are Christians so vicious today?  It's one thing to disagree with people, I do it all the time.  But there is no need for this name calling and flatly dishonorable behavior.

Are you against abortion?  Great!  That's fantastic, but how can you be most effective?  Is it by standing outside an abortion clinic hurling insults at poor women who come trying to escape their problems?  I'll tell you this.  Pro-life liberals get way more positive attention and frankly, they get way more done.  The enemy is not going to let you into his castle to pry the ears of his advisers.  But if he's not your enemy, he'll let you in and offer you a meal and let you try to change his mind.

 Paul had some great things to say about how you reach people.

"For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became mas one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings."

Is it possible that Paul in his wisdom may have said something like "to the Democrats, I became as a Democrat for the sake of the gospel that I may share with them in its blessings"?  That sounds like something he might say, if he were a republican which I dare say he wouldn't be.

I am in a tough spot.  I have been in a tough spot for a number of years.  I feel uncomfortable where I am.  Though my service is strenuous and valuable, I feel like I'm working with the wrong people.  I have become more and more withdrawn because the words of my 'friends' and associates are so repulsive to me.  I feel like it's all coming to a head.  I feel like if my small group leader says that 'all these regulations are in the way' again, I'm going to burst.  And I'll tell you this much, if my church participates in 'Pulpit Freedom Sunday' I will be leaving it.  Because you don't draw people to the truth with hateful and insulting language.  You don't win people to your side with partisan bickering.  Jesus hung out with hookers and tax cheats, sailors and radicals.  And all he told them to do was stop sinning.  That's it.  Not that they were bad people.  Not that they were ruining their country.  Not that they were a drag on society.  And he didn't compare them to hairy creatures whose speech nobody understands.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Collectivism vs. Individualism

 I have mentioned a number of times one of the main drivers that pushed me left was hearing Rush Limbaugh elaborate on the 'greed is good' thesis. It thoroughly disgusted me in a way I remember to this day. I remember what I was doing when I heard it, and I remember where I was when I told my other people about it. The singular repulsion to the idea has weighed on my mind that much to this day.

I believe in a fundamentally collectivist society. Let me be clear, that by fundamentally, I mean by the real definition 'A leading or primary principle, rule, law, or article, which serves as the groundwork of a system; essential part'. I don't mean pure communism, or pure anything. It is self evident that human nature directs itself to operate both collectively and individually, but collectively is its basic nature outside of a very small proportion of the species which finds anything but total solitude to be unacceptable. We naturally group into cities, towns, communities, churches, races, tribes, socioeconomic rungs on the ladder. There are so many groups to which we align ourselves that it makes me believe that it is the inherent nature of humanity. It goes back to the Middle East or Africa from which humans arose. A single person will be taken in the night by a jaguar. A group can keep watch while others sleep, hunt for food while the night watchers sleep, and designate a few to guard the women and children, what is necessary to pass along the genes of the species.

At the same time, we have a drive to achieve, for one to be better than the other. Some wish to be leaders of men. Some become drunk with power. We want to work to make things better. We dream of more stuff, or better stuff, or a prettier mate. We acquire things of value and sell them. We acquire things of little value and work to make them of more value. There is an inherent nature of selfishness, at least some, and naturally some more than others. But ultimately, that selfishness is still relative to the collective, the group. A man cannot become blindingly wealthy without utilizing the work of other men.  Ayn Rand's philosophy was that the man at the top didn't get paid for all his genius because he had to pay those below him. The reverse is true. He cannot make anything without denying something from those below him. The optimum, I say, is a collaborative and symbiotic relationship where he pays them well for their ability to make him more money and both parties are happy to be providing their part and both think the other is fairly compensated for their work.  Or better yet, the company is owned by its employees and they work together to make a profit they all can share.  That's the heart of socialism, returning the means of production to the control of the workers.

But that's not the attitude we have in the US. Our attitude is to use the measure of the market to extract the very last dollar we can get, the last penny that a commodity is worth, the company car, the company jet, deny the fans of the movie the opportunity to see their favorite actor star in the sequel to squeeze another million out of the contract. It goes both ways, the employer, the employee, the spouse, the government, labor and management.

Funny thing. In the US, they say you are unique. Nobody is like you. You have something special to offer. In Scandinavia, they say you are the same. Lots of people have been through what you have. Lots of people have had to do what you're doing. Again, I say, both are true. But inherently, our good as a people comes from working with the group, guiding the group, shaping the group so the group as a whole can achieve what loners cannot.

Monday, July 23, 2012


Whoa, got your attention there huh?  Don’t worry, it’s okay, you can read this.  It’s educational and socially relevant.  But it is about boobs, so you can enjoy it a little if you want.  Sure, discuss it with your parents too.

But I do really want to talk about boobs because I had a revelation the other morning at church.  Yes church.  It was about idolatry.

Due to the backwards morality of Victorian Era ideals, women’s bodies have been a bit fetishized, breasts especially.  For some odd reason, they are accorded nearly the same hush hush treatment as the genitals even though they serve no purpose in reproduction other than as bait, which they wouldn’t be so much if they weren’t required to be hidden at all times in public.  You make something illegal or forbidden and it gains a measure of attractiveness to a certain portion of the population which at times can be quite large.  Drugs are an example. 

Why do good girls like bad boys?  Because they’re not supposed to.

But boobs are a bit of another story, because it’s not just any boobs that are seen as attractive and desireable.  Boobs have a built in aging mechanism (exacerbated by bras, but we’ll talk about that later.)  They don’t stay how society wants them.  Society wants them large and round and perky.  But even if you get those nice large and round and perky boobs on the front end (of life, why so many jokes possible?), you’re damn sure not going to have the same a little later on when they’ve been used for what they were intended.

It’s young boobs, there, I said it.  We want young boobs.

We idolize youth.  Our fascination with perky boobs reveals that.  And when they’re not perky anymore, cut ‘em up and stitch them back together (if you had the material to work with) so they’re perky again.  Never mind that without clothes they’ll never ever again look like they’re real, you can’t hide scar tissue on a boob.  It’s already stretched skin to begin with. 

Maybe they’re not big enough, or maybe they’ve deflated like a morning after party balloon.  Get implants!  Don’t forget to be careful lest you pop one, or in the case of the past, watch out for poisonous fillers.  Oh, also, even if you had perfectly nice boobs to begin with, you can never go back.  And you’ll probably have to get new ones every decade or so.  I’m sure you’ll be popular at the old folks’ home.  HID chrome headlights on a model T.  Smile grandma!

Why is there no honor in aging?  You can’t be younger than 35 to be president, but who wants to look at a 35 year old pair of tits?  And they have to be covered up and padded so that God forbid a nipple would show through?  I find it hard to believe that God created something so prominent and yet it is required to be covered so that you can’t tell it’s there.

God didn’t require it to be covered, you did.  And the counter intuitive thing is that bras only have an effect when they’re on.  They don’t keep your boobs from sagging, in fact, they actually cause the ligaments that support your breasts to atrophy, the same way wearing shoes causes the muscles and important bits in your feet to atrophy.  You were built not too need either.

Stop idolizing the young.  We’re already to the point where the ideal female form is unattainable through natural genetics.  Any female gets even close and her boobs will be too saggy to be acceptable.  We are too soon old and too late smart.  Enjoy your body, ugly as it may be.  You’re great how you are.  

My daughter is going to have to grow up in this world and I'd like her not to suffer through image issues and eating disorders like her mother did.  So knock it off.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Homebrew Dystopian Fiction: The Hold-Up

“Here, take ‘em, enjoy yourself.” I said matter-of-factly.  Well, I have to admit there was some sarcasm in there, but what could I do, the guy was trying to take my keys and drive off with my truck.  Despite my inner awareness that this wasn’t going to end his way, there is only so much I can hide on the emotional front.  

“You’ll never get it started.”

“Why is that?” he asked, eyes narrowing.

“Because it doesn’t run on gasoline” I replied, again matter-of-factly.  “You’ll never get it started” I repeated.

“What does it run on, batteries?”

“Wood gas.”

“What’s wood gas?”  His voice had dropped an octave.  He was obviously trying to intimidate me and betraying building frustration.  Not to be outdone, my command of the situation allowed me a healthy measure of patience.  He wasn’t going anywhere in my truck.  I think he was beginning to figure that out.  But he had to figure out if I was lying before he could move on to other possible exploits.

“What’s wood gas?”  His voice was still low, unnaturally low and quiet because it wasn’t his usual timbre.

“Wood gas is a gas that comes from wood when you burn it without enough oxygen and in the right conditions in a closed environment.  The flammable parts are hydrogen and carbon monoxide.”

“What if I just make you start it for me?”

“Look, it’s not like you can just saunter out into the street, hop in and start ‘er up.  It doesn’t work that way.  It takes about five minutes and in that time, you’ll be attracting a lot of attention.  I always do.  There’s lots of questions.  People are going to be a little leery of someone standing over my shoulder with a gun.  Even after I do get it going, I have to adjust the fuel/air ratio to make it go.”  I was exaggerating a little bit.  It did take a few minutes, it does attract attention, and I do have to adjust the fuel/air ratio, but once I get it going, it’s relatively easy to drive.  While I’m not a fan of lying, I’m less concerned about omitting a few facts when I’m on the stereotypical wrong end of a firearm.

He began to look a little distressed now.  He glanced around suspiciously as if looking for someone eavesdropping on our conversation.  Times were tough and I can only imagine he was a little hungry.   Gas was wobbling around $12 per gallon.  But it was still available.  Peak oil was finally firmly upon us.  The growing economies of China and India had been consuming fuel at an ever increasing rate.  Where once their consumption was a small sliver of the pie, now it had been trying to overlap other slices.  If you know anything about pie charts, you know that isn’t how it works.

We were in bad shape.  I mean, we were still in shape, but it wasn’t the shape we wanted to be in for sure.  Other countries had the jump on us.  Fully accustomed to $12 gas, many European countries and their democratic socialist governments were able to more rapidly shift their economic reliance to non-oil based fuels.  We have a lot of natural gas, but we weren’t ready for the switch. 

We only had some tens of thousands of electric cars, about the same in natural gas, and probably only a few dozen wood gas vehicles.  Fortunately, mine was one of them.  Since I was a kid, I wanted to live off grid.  It was not only a hobby, but a goal to go off grid, and the last tie to the grid was that liquid fuel, inexpensive, dense, and convenient.  Then I discovered wood gas.  It’s not nearly as dense so it’s better suited for stationary applications like generators or tractors, but it is easily adapted to on-the-road vehicles if you’re willing to give up about half your horse power and a third of your cargo space.  But more than anything, it’s cheap.  One pound of wood will get you over a mile and you can get over five thousand miles on a cord.  I was on the ball.  I had embraced the technology before it was necessary and now I was doing okay whilst many were hurting for fuel.

“In that case, give me your money.”

“I’m driving a pickup that runs on wood, what makes you think I have any money?”

He raised the gun to my face.

“Alright.  Here.”  I pulled out my wallet and upon opening it, extracted a wrinkled twenty dollar bill that looked as though it had gone through the wash.  I handed it to him.  “That’s all I got on me.  It’s yours.  If you had asked without the gun, you would have gotten the same thing without the lesson in biofuels.  I keep it in there for just such occasions as this.”

“Fair enough” he said, “I don’t have any bullets anyway.”

Monday, April 16, 2012

Love Your Enemy Step 1: Identify Your Enemy

It has been said to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. 

Jesus said to love your enemies. 

Step 1 I believe is to identify your enemies.  Admit to yourself who your enemies are so you can love them on purpose.  Aside from the more obvious enemies, who else counts?

I'm thinking about this lately.  To be a follower of Jesus means having to listen to one of his most basic and direct commands.  "Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you."

But who is it?  I believe it is akin to the question asked of Jesus, "who is my neighbor?"  Jesus said even someone considered an enemy (a Samaritan) was a neighbor.  So we know our enemy can be our neighbor.  But what if your neighbor is your enemy?

What if you spouse is your enemy?  This certainly could more obviously be the case if you spouse has divorced you and is trying to get custody of your children or a substantial portion of your money.  But what if that is not the case?  What if you and your spouse have a very happy relation ship and he or she just keeps using all the hot water in the morning because they take too long a shower?

What if they ate all the brownies without you getting as many as you wanted?

What if they roll over and shake the bed and wake you up all the time?

What if they like the thermostat at a different level than you?

What level of love do they rightly deserve as commanded by Jesus?

I submit to you that in some sense, everyone is your enemy.  Each person on this planet is in some way in your way.  They may want your money, they may be driving too slow on the freeway in front of you, they may burn trash in their yard, they may be breathing your air, they may waste your time, and they may be doing whatever it is totally by accident without knowing they are inconveniencing you.

Love them. 

Stop and consider what it means for you to love them.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Writing versus Reading

Just got done with a year long binge of reading.  Yeah, reading, not cocaine, not porn, not watching the entire run of Weeds.  Well, I did the Weeds thing, how could I not.  I'm from the West Coast right?

As you've seen, not much writing has been getting done around here.  And it's probably because of all the reading.  Apparently, I can't read and write at the same time.  Let me clue you in to the monumental task that it is to keep my considerable intellect occupied.

In the last year, I read:
The Lord of the Rings
Dune Messiah
Children of Dune
God Emperor of Dune
Heretics of Dune
Chapterhouse: Dune
Speaking of Jesus by Carl Madearis
The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons.
Love Wins by Rob Bell
Sex, Mom and God by Frank Shaeffer and that rounds out back to about March at which point it gets a little fuzzy.

Before that, I read Crazy for God by Frank Shaeffer, Rebooting the American Dream by Thom Hartmann, They like Jesus but not the Church by Dan Kimball, and When Christians Get it Wrong by Adam Hamilton. That goes back to when I got Kindle for iPhone in the early part of the year.

If that weren't enough, after Lord of the Rings, I read:
The Hobbit
The Rapture Exposed
Fuse of Armageddon
And I'm currently working on Wind Power by Paul Gipe, but that's for class.  I'd read it anyway.

That's a year's reading for me.  I read more books in the last year than many people read in their entire life.  If you're wondering which books to read, I don't often finish a book if I don't like it.  You could read any of these and find them stimulating

But I think I'm going to start writing again.  I've already been working on my beekeeping website.  It's my own personal encyclopedia of beekeeping.  Check it out at  I also have a beekeeping blog at

I'm still looking for ideas, though I have plenty of fodder in politics.  I like hypocrisy especially.  Not to watch it, to criticize it.

I am,

@wiredforstereo on Twitter too.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Book Review: Fuse of Armageddon

In modern apocalyptic fiction, there is but one name known throughout the world, Left Behind.  It is a novelized account of what will happen when the beast of Revelation shows up and decides to do his work.  But it's terrible.  Popular among the young and impressionable evangelical conservatives, but to any discerning reader, just terrible.  The plot lines are thin, convoluted, completely lacking in reality or human condition and at some points, patently bogus.  Like the part where as soon as the conservative Christians are raptured away, the world goes to heck in a rocket sled and just signs the whole planet over to the 'antichrist.'  Like liberals could ever agree on anything.  I put 'antichrist' in quotes because of how horribly they misuse the term.  Nowhere in the Bible is mentioned "the antichrist."  In the few places it does appear, it's "an antichrist" or "of antichrist."  The antichrist is not a single person, but anyone with a certain attitude or ambition.

I digress.

Anyway, Sigmund Brouwer and Hank Hanegraaff started their own series which is the partial-preterist answer to the Left Behind series.  It's called "The Last Disciple."  Instead of showing a future plot line, it is historical fiction as what John was talking about took place during the decade or so before the fall of the Temple in 70 AD.  The wrote the first two books and then took a break to write "Fuse of Armageddon."  Fuse is a tomorrow sort of book where you get the idea that the lead up to the climax of the book is taking place right now.  In novel form, it shows what could happen if dispensational eschatologists took their beliefs to ultimate fruition and tried to bring about Armageddon by sacrificing a red heifer and cleansing the temple mount with its ashes.  It shows what could happen if radical christian Zionists get their hands on the controls.

Mr. Brouwer as the novelist is the analog to Jerry Jenkins, the novelist of the LB series, and Mr. Hanegraaff is the theologian behind the story the same as Tim LaHaye.  The prime difference is, Brouwer and Hanegraaff write things that could actually happen.  Their characters say things people would actually say and they do things people might actually do.  Their characters are smart and there's no spiritual heeby jeeby nonsense going on to finagle things in to fitting the biblical narrative counter to the way real people actually do things.

In all my exploration of theology and eschatology, the partial preterist viewpoint is the only one that has ever made sense to me.  And it doesn't rely on doing grammatical douchebaggery to make everything fit together like a jigsaw puzzle of a beautiful sunset which ends up being a mustard stain on a pair of mechanic's overalls.  It fits together and it makes sense and all you have to do is take the literal things literally and the apocalyptic things apocalyptically.  Also throw in a bit of 'tradition is slightly mistaken about when certain things happened.'  I'm always a sucker for getting rid of outmoded traditions.  It works because it makes sense for real people who said these things, who heard these things, and who did these things.

Being told that Armageddon was going to happen in 1997 is tantamount to child abuse in my view.  Hope you had a better childhood.  That's all I got to say about that.

The only trouble I have with this book is something that was a terrible aspect of the Left Behind series, portraying the other side.  How do you write dialog for an argument for which one side is your side?  When should the opposing side be left dumbfounded?  How weak should the opposing side's arguments be?  The Left Behind series portrayed the other side exactly as they saw the other side, the trouble is, that's not how the other side is.  Brouwer and Hanegraaff do a much better job as far as I can see it, but it's still not perfect.  What is perfect?  I don't know.  I'm on their side.  I've never believed the stuff on the other side.  Sometimes you genuinely try to show what the other side believes, and sometimes you're just pushing propaganda.  Walk that line.  These guys don't push the agenda too hard, it's just part of the facts of the story.  In the end, the televangelist doesn't just magically switch sides on the issue, he thoughtfully admits that maybe his view isn't the only one, and that's something enlightenment does to real people.

Overall, I enjoyed this book.  I love the way Brouwer interweaves his plot lines, telling each story in little snippets and moving back and forth between them right at the most suspenseful moments.  I read this book pretty rapidly and would have read it faster had I had more time.  I give it 9/10, for the message and for the story.

I will be reading the next book in the Last Disciple series, it's coming out later this year and will be called "The Last Temple."