Thursday, July 30, 2009

Re: "right religion," more scripture re: truth

I quoted Jesus in the previous blog posting regarding his teaching that God IS truth, and that all humans who believe therefore have a heritage and a right to the truth, truth which is validated through the perfect sanctity (servant to God) of Jesus.

Here are some more Bible passages regarding the topic of truth. The first set of writings are the earliest, from the Book of Psalms. Young people, think of this analogy, even though it's not a perfect comparison, but it will resonate with you. Realize that the Bible is like a blog that has been added to by different people living centuries, even thousands of years apart, where each writer does not see what the previous has added, yet all of the additions are perfect in accuracy and relate to the same one true God. That is how the Bible was "constructed." It is an assembly of writings created independently (except for the first books which were given to Moses and his fellow priests and successors directly by God), yet they retain total consistency. Why is that? Well, for two reasons. One is that the Bible is comprised of real people who lived in real times in history and who were participants in real historical events in a real geography (much of which still exists today in the Middle East). So even different people who are not in communication with each other will, of course, write about the same events and places. Secondly, each book that contains revelation from God is, of course, coming from the same consistent source which is God, who is unchanging through all eternity. In other words, God doesn't tell some guy who lived three thousand years ago one thing and then tell some other guy something else or something inconsistent several hundred years later.

So here are passages about truth from the Book of Psalms, which is a collection of psalms, many of them authored by King David, and others having more ancient or more recent origin. Thus the people who composed and uttered most of the psalms would have lived around 2700-2900 years ago, and the psalms were compiled and put into a collected written form much later. So here is the inspired word of God, through the psalmists, about the subject of truth, as spoken nearly three thousand years ago.

Psalm 57:3, 10

He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.

For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds.

[Commentary: This is a psalm by David, who was afflicted and under pressure from enemies at the time. Notice that David trusts that God will both rescue him through might (allowing David to be victorious) but also because God knows the entire truth of all matters. Some translations of this passage use "faithfulness" instead of "truth." This is because to the biblical mind faith and truth are virtually the same, because God is truth and thus being faithful to God is being faithful to the truth!]

From another psalm by King David:

Psalm 86:15

But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.

[Commentary: This is another example where faithfulness is sometimes used in the translation rather than truth. Read this translation: "But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity." This is important for you to understand, the mindset of the psalmist and those who then ascribe what was oral, spoken history into writing. All the faithful in those times would have understood, culturally, that when speaking of God, the words "truth" and "faithfulness/fidelity" are virtually interchangeable. See, it is too easy for people who wish to dismiss the validity and perfection of the Bible (and be somewhat scorning of the intellect of those who penned the scriptures) to say, "Look, 'they' even 'disagree' about the 'translation.'" That's not true for the most part and that is bogus. Why? Because as you can see here, modern people have a huge gap in definition between truth and fidelity, which is fine, but they don't understand that thousands of years ago among God's people, their speech and mindset reflect their knowledge and belief that God/truth/faithfulness are virtually interlocked and interchangeable words and concepts!]

This psalm is by an author other than David. So once again you can see the consistency of the view even among different authors of God as being the truth and thus also THE faithfulness.

Psalm 91:4

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shall thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

[Commentary: "With his pinions he will cover you, and under his wings you shall take refuge; his faithfulness is a buckler and a shield." I use several Bibles, including some quite old ones, probably to the frustration of those who look up the scriptures that I cite, ha. Here I am showing you that you do not need to fear or doubt because of 'different translations.' Understand that by looking at a few translations you start to hone in on better understand of the gestalt of the overall concept that the biblical mindset of these authors is trying to transmit through all these years and to vastly different cultures who no longer understand what was commonplace understanding back then. By using, consistently, several authentic Bibles that have translations by various authoritative traditional scholars, you can zero in on what the biblical authors were actually thinking in context, rather than be dismayed that the translations are 'different.' So here notice that the psalmist views God's truth as a physical protection, in this analogy of God as kind of super eagle.]

Thus between seven hundred and a thousand years before the time that Jesus lived, when Jesus said that the truth shall set you free, the cultural mindset of faith recognized that God IS the totality of perfect truth, truth that provides, therefore, both faithfulness/fidelity and also spiritual and physical protection in the world.

In case you are not sure how truth provides physical protection, think of being thirsty while hiking and you must drink from a stream. One person tells you the water is safe to drink while the other tells you that it has toxic pollutants in it. That's an obvious example where knowledge of the truth saves one's life, or costs one one's life. Therefore the people of God during biblical times certainly recognized that the authentic true God is the source of all truth and would never mislead or lie. False prophets of false gods can and do "make mistakes," do not possess the truth, and also are fully capable of lying for base purposes (such as money or ego).

The Book of Proverbs, like the Book of Psalms, is a collection of oral, spoken sayings, many uttered by King Solomon, which was collected and inscribed in separate sections that were put together at some point. Thus they reflect ancient teachings, from the same time as the Book of Psalms, even though they were inscribed later and in the care of several authors' hands to assemble.

Proverbs 23:23

Get the truth, and sell it not-wisdom, instruction and understanding.

[Commentary: Now, there are two cultural context things you need to understand in order to grasp this passage about truth. The first is that line 23 is embedded in a section that is advising the young man or woman to pay attention to their parents for religious instruction. Yes, if you read 22-25 both the father AND the mother are mentioned as those to be valued and heeded for their wisdom. Now, remember this is in the times when all of the people of Israel are faithful to the one God, and thus parents could be trusted to transmit only truthful knowledge and nothing bogus. So you cannot read this passage today, unfortunately, and assume that it is endorsing whatever baloney your parents may believe! This was an exhortation for orthodox believing children to believe and respect what their orthodox believing parents taught them about the People of God's faith. So in that context it still applies, of course, today, but unfortunately children have to discern whether their own parents have gone far afield into untruth and bizarre beliefs.

The second cultural context is to understand what the phrase "sell it not" means. This is not a phrase that means that a person could not write a book about God and sell it for money. NOT that anyone would have done that nor would it be viewed as righteous, since both the Old and New Testament make clear that God's word is free. I'm just telling you that this particular phrase is not a reference to that hotly contested modern topic, since it would not have even crossed the mind of someone from biblical times to "sell" God's word in any form. Rather, this is an admonishment to not abandon (sell) one's learning about God from one's parents in return for doing something else (like sinning). So the young person is being told to not only receive his or her parents' orthodox knowledge of the one true God but also to never let that knowledge go.]

The Book of Isaiah is written by the great prophet Isaiah. We know the exact date that God called Isaiah to be his prophet, in the year 742 BC (before Christ). Thus we know for a fact that Isaiah received his call to be God's prophet exactly 2751 years ago. How cool is that! As I've pointed out the Bible is written by real people during real historical events, and Isaiah tells us he received his calling the same year that King Ozia, a king of Judah, died. Here is a passage where Isaiah is warning that a huge fall is coming due to the sinfulness of the people, and refers specifically to the people's lack of concern for, yes, the truth. Sound familiar to today?

Isaiah 59:1-4, 14-15

Lo, the hand of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. Rather, it is your crimes that separate you from your God, it is your sins that make him hide his face so that he will not hear you. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt; your lips speak falsehood, and your tongue utters deceit. No one brings suit justly, no one pleads truthfully; they trust in emptiness and tell lies; they conceive mischief and bring forth malice...Right is repelled, and justice stands far off; for truth stumbles in the public square, uprightness cannot enter. Honesty is lacking, and the man who turns from evil is despoiled.

[Commentary: Take the time to read the entire section, 59:1-15 and you will see a detailed picture of the breakdown in truthfulness and honesty throughout the Israelites and how this has led to estrangement from God, one that he will follow with severe punishment (which ends up being, years later, the fall to and captivity by Babylon.) How can someone not be moved, and alarmed, by the image that "truth stumbles in the public square?" 2700 plus years ago Israel was falling due to widespread tolerance for dishonesty, lying, faith in empty things, while those who remained truthful in everyday matters are pummeled. This is exactly the situation that modern society is in today. Truth does indeed stumble in the public square and the honest man or woman is robbed, mocked and ruined (what the word "despoiled" means).

Do you see how the commentary and thoughtful reading of Psalms and Proverbs about truth prepares you to better understand "what God is doing?" See, we have seen that God IS truth, and that when one trusts in God and receives from him the truth, one has both faithfulness between him or herself and God AND a physical protection. Thus, when people start being untruthful among themselves, they naturally, then, draw away from knowing God and also start to lose God's protection. This is why the sins of lying and false witness are so very dire; they are not "minor" sins. People who start lying to each other become deaf to God and lose not only the truth itself but also God's protection, as God will not protect falsehood.

Here is a somewhat artistic image to help you to understand that statement that I've made where God is truth and will not protect falsehood. Think of God as being a beam of light falling on an object, let's say a table. The top of the table glows in the light, and under the table is a shadow. It's not like the light, in this case God, arranges so that a separate entity, the shadow, is created and "protected," like equal rights for shadows, LOL. Wherever the light falls there is light. A separate entity, a table, that blocks the light creates shadow. That is a law of physics but it is an apt artistic image to understand that God is all light (truth) and that the light does not possess an agenda to create and maintain x number of shadows, etc. Likewise, God will not create, endorse or protect lies and the agendas of people who lie to each other. Isaiah, listening to the actual words of God as they are spoken to him, describes this perfectly and completely in this passage, and the proof, witnessed years after Isaiah, demonstrates the fall of the People of God who had become liars. Just because an individual person or even a whole generation is not smited on the spot does not mean it is not coming.

Seven hundred years later, the Apostle John wrote this about Jesus:

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. And we saw his glory-glory as of the only-begotten of the Father-full of grace and of truth.

[Commentary: Do you see how there is a building treasure of understanding as one works through the entire Bible with the intention of truly understanding God and comprehending the cultural context in which the words were written? You might have once read this very passage and not realized the profound implication of John's reporting that they witnessed that Jesus was full of both grace and also of truth. Modern eyes and ears think that saying Jesus was full of truth meant that you could believe everything that he said and did. In other words, this is viewed as just an attestation (and of course an important one) that this is fact and not fiction. But you would miss the entire point of God=Truth that every pious Jew of any learning would have possessed at this time! Grace comes from God and only God. Modern people think that anyone can tell the truth. But John is referring to not humans telling the truth, but that Jesus is filled with God's Truth. Jews would have gasped at those words and realization at that time. Now, of course John wrote his Gospel years after Jesus had died, resurrected and ascended and, in fact, John lived to an ancient one hundred years of age, and he wrote this Gospel at the request of the Christian elders at the time. We can be sure of two things, though. One is that during the time of Jesus' life you can see in scripture and also safely assume that there was frequent use of the word truth in association with Jesus, and that he meant not the truth of humans but the Truth of God. The second is that even those many years after Jesus the Jews would continue, even after the destruction of the Temple, which John lived on long after, that Jews and Christianized Jews would have immediately grasped the full implications of Jesus being full of Truth.]

NOW, you can really understand what Jesus meant when he said:

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life."

Jesus does not mean human truth; he means the Truth of God fills him. This would have rocked all who heard him. And now you can recapture that understanding, that this is a huge attestation, not simply a human truth telling statement.

I hope that you have found this helpful!

Monday, July 27, 2009

How to approach the "right religion" question

I was listening to a certain talk show where he was rerunning a segment where callers described their experience at converting from their original religion, to a different faith, and then back to their original faith, or yet another conversion. Like my blog post earlier today about whether God is strong enough to defeat evil, I detected an urgent underlying assumption about not only this question of finding the "right religion," but also the hidden error in even looking for the "right religion." That may sound strange but here we go with my explanation, because this is also a problem of what sounds logical is actually disguising huge potential errors and very wrong paths to finding God.

Here is an analogy to understand the problem, and huge pitfall, of having a "seeking the right religion" orientation. Suppose that you are an infant during World War II and due to the Holocaust you have been separated from your father. You grow up without having memories of him and all that you know is his name; you have no idea what has become of him. The years go by and you grow up, perhaps with the family who sheltered you, and they may even have adopted you. You still do not know what had happened to your father, if he died, or if he lived, where he is now. You become educated and grown up, and now have enough income, maturity and will power to seek your father.

Now that you have imagined this situation, and put yourself in this person's shoes, let me ask you a question. Are you seeking your father to 1) find out who he is and where he is because he is your father, or 2) because you hope that he has some money stashed away that if you present yourself to him, you can have it?

Wow, doesn't reason number two sound crass and totally wrong? Obviously the child, now a young man or woman, wants to find his or her real father, for love, for kinship, for a real relationship or, if he has indeed died, closure and honoring of his memory. So clearly reason number one is why the child now grown seeks his or her father, torn from him or her in war and in the horror of the Holocaust.

Without being mean, and I really am not being mean at ALL, let us look at the consequences of reason number one or reason number two. The person who seeks for reason number one is overcome with joy when he or she finds out what has happened to his or her father, even if the news is not good, for at last he or she knows the truth.

The person who seeks for reason number two is also happy when he or she finds who he or she THINKS is his or her father, especially if he or she is now endowed with possessions or money given to him or her by the living father, or inherited by him or her if the father is deceased. He or she is glad that he or she found the right dad.

What might go wrong with reason number two? What if the father has no treasure, no assets, to share at all with the seeking son or daughter. Is the joy in the reunion, or the closure, diminished? Obviously yes, if that was the driving motivation. A second problem is being certain that this is the actual father and not mistaken identity. Might the presumed son or daughter be tempted to believe that the prospective actual father who has assets is indeed the father, even if further research shows mistaken identity? And might the actual prospective father be dismissed as not being the actual father if the prospective son or daughter is looking through a certain set of expectations, thinking their actual father MUST surely have money to share?

=== When the objective of the search for the "right one" is established upon receipt of reward, rather than determining the truth, great error is likely to be introduced.

This is the problem with those who seek the "right religion" rather than those who seek "the truth." People seek the "right religion" for reasons that sound valid, but if you take a closer look, you find they have great potential for error:

o They want the "right religion" so that they have the best outcome (presumed rewards for faithfulness in both life and after death). If you are a Christian that might mean you want the "right religion" to be "saved;" if you believe in reincarnation you want the "right religion" in order to try to manipulate a "better rebirth" in a "future life;" and if you are a New Age pagan or whatever you might be hoping to find the "right religion" so you can be combating the "correct alien menace." :-(

o They want the "right religion" because it is the one that "feels right" and "comfortable," and is "harmonious with their lifestyle."

o They want the "right religion" because it is the one that "answers their questions" and "gives them gifts, charisms, special powers and abilities, and knowledge that 'others are not privy to."

You can now see that those reasons all sound logical, but are huge temptations to accept as being the "right religion" whichever "faith" scratches the itch and presumably grants the reward you seek. Thus the Holocaust surviving son or daughter might genuinely think the guy with the most money really is their father and dismiss poorer guys ("he doesn't look like me anyway") and not bother with a paternity test.

===When one seeks the truth rather than the "right religion," one never finds the "wrong religion" because the truth is a built-in paternity test.

Suddenly, when one seeks the truth first, one becomes much more analytical and logical, even in a spiritual quest. You recognize that the correct father might not make you feel "comfortable" like you are hanging out with a pal. You recognize that the correct father may not have been salting away lots of money just to give to you as a reward for "finding him." When you seek the truth, you seek the truth, and you will find the truth.

I'll let you contemplate this, for you can fill in the blanks of what I would write here, of the different ways that the "right religion" can "feel right" or "sound right," but if you have an agenda other than the truth, it is a religion that is compatible with your wishes and not, instead, the truth. Here is scripture for further reading. NOW you can understand these passages in the Bible.

[Jesus said about God] Sanctify them in the truth. Thy word is truth. John 17:17

[Jesus said about his followers] And for them I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. John 17:19

By way of definition and better understanding, the term to be "sanctified" means that a person is set aside for God's work. Anyone who with determination and honesty sets him or her self aside to do God's work is sanctified. Sanctification is not removal from secular life. People who truly follow God as he actually is, and who always put God first, striving (even when they fall some) to do God's work are sanctified.

Jesus is thus giving through these assertions some logical development that his listeners and future generations can hear and believe the truth. There is even some Greek deductive reasoning in what Jesus says ;-) Jesus is saying:

A. A person is sanctified (follows God) when he or she seeks the truth. "Sanctify them in the truth."

B. All that God says and reveals is the truth. "Thy word is truth."

C. Jesus has sanctified himself, as he is dedicated to following God, who is the truth. "And for them I sanctify myself..."

Therefore, in conclusion, logically, so that since God is the truth, Jesus has sanctified himself to God, those who believe all that Jesus says and does are now also sanctified to God in the truth. "...that they also may be sanctified in truth."

Just as an aside, even though Jesus as he lived was preaching to Jews, obviously many who listened to him were not Jewish and many of those were educated in Greek philosophy and logic. All who heard this would have had their socks knocked off, as Jesus was also "speaking their language" by using deductive reasoning based on clear assertions and classic Greek logic.

All you who read and love the scriptures, after understanding this you can read John 17 and it will speak to you, in Jesus' words, as it has never spoken to you before, as you will see the threads of how Jesus brings the fabric of truth together as the basis and foundation for faith. Jesus explained that faith comes from truth first. Jesus explains that the miracles and the works, and the explanations of his fulfillment of all the scriptures of prophesy from the very beginning are given by God as truth first, and then secondly the foundation of faith.

That is the profound difference between those who seek the truth first, and those who seek an image of what they consider and assume to be "the right religion."

Let me now ask one further question. Many argue that all religions lead to God. Really? You mean if the Holocaust son or daughter just tags along with any potential male of the right age that he will serve as their "actual father?" Really? No, untruthful roads do not lead to God. That does not mean that God does not forgive those who grew up in untruthful circumstances, for only God knows how he judges those who are raised without knowing Him as he truthfully is. However, God will of course be stern to those who do not attempt to discern the truth first. The Qur'an, by the way, is also, using different style of wording, focused on truthfulness first, and faith as the natural outflow second.

Surah 10:32-33 This then is Allah, your true Lord, and what is there after the truth but error; how are you then turned back?
Thus does the word of your Lord prove true against those who transgress that they do not believe.

This passage from the Qur'an echoes very much the flow of logic that Jesus uses. Here the logic flow is:

The true God is the true God.
If one rejects truth in any matter, the alternative to truth is therefore error.
How does one return to believing the truth if one believes in error?
One does so by observing the results of the proof of truth, compared to the lack of results among those who believe in error.

There is the famous saying "The truth shall make you free."

Jesus therefore said to the Jews who had come to believe in him, "If you abide in my word, you shall be my disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31-33.

Again, Jesus uses the logic whereby if one abides (lives within) the words of Jesus (who has sanctified himself to no other purpose than to serve God, who is the Truth), then one becomes disciples of Jesus, and thus likewise know the truth about God also. Furthermore, the truth is liberation from slavery, the slavery of error and of sin. Jesus explains why truth liberates those who are enslaved (and don't even know it) in John 8:34-38, and this becomes an extended debate with those who don't understand that they are enslaved because they don't recognize the truth when it is speaking to them, either from God himself or Jesus.

So here is the error in logic of believing that "all faiths" "lead to God." "All faiths" do not contain equal amounts, if any, of truth, anymore than all men of a certain age and region are therefore the prospective son's or daughter's actual lost father. People are confusing good behavior with truth! Perhaps "all faiths" assert certain consistent moral codes and behaviors. That does not mean that all of them are the "right faiths" and it certainly does not mean that they are equally "the truth." The prospective son or daughter may have a happy life with the "any man will do" father, until years later they discover that while they had their happy life their actual father was unrecognized by them. Oops.

Trust the truth. Anyone who is the least bit mature wants to know the truth of things, not error, misunderstandings, lies and false leads. The truth is the truth (anything that is not the truth is false and an error). The actual truthful matter leads one to the actual God of truth. Believing in error or falsehood leads to an erroneous path to an erroneous world view, containing an incorrect and incomplete understanding of the truth about God and the truth of God.

To explain a bit more about the temptation to follow what "feels" like "nice" beliefs since they are "moral" consider this. Suppose the seeking son or daughter asks a resident if their lost father lives in a certain village. Suppose the villager thinks, "Hmm, I know a really nice guy who is a lonely man. I'll tell this seeking child that I know for sure that man is their actual father, even though he isn't. In fact, I am doing a good deed!" Again, the seeking child may have a great life with the wrong father, but what happens to the actual father who never sees his child again?

THAT is the risk of not seeking the truth first.

I hope this has been and will be helpful to you and yours.

Quick appeal for an animal welfare organization

I know all too well how tight money is, how donations to charitable causes are way down, and how there are so many increasing needs stressing most charitable organizations. Yet there is one that is near and dear to my heart that I ask you to visit online and, further, if you can, donate some amount. Even if small they add up and they all will be appreciated.

This is a shelter and rescue facility for pit bull dogs. I have been deeply concerned for many years about the enormous popularity, and then associated cruelty, inflicted on pit bulls and, further, the lack of shelters who can understand them, handle them, and provide rehabilitation and loving homes. Badrap has done an amazing job, but the need is enormous. They are just one organization (in the SF Bay Area of California) yet are called upon cross country when there is uncovering of pit bulls in abuse situations. These dogs never asked to be cruelty used as pawns in dog fighting, in abusive "guard dog" situations, to be deprived, to be tormented to be made "tough." It has been an urban, and rural, nightmare for I would guess over twenty years, and I cannot imagine how many pit bulls have suffered and, when rescued, due to lack of understanding and resources, have had to be euthenized. Take a look at the Badrap website and you will be very encouraged to see their fine work. They are fundraising for a modest and much needed building for the pitbulls, and every small or large donation would be a real help.

Many thanks for at least reading this and perhaps visiting their website, as new admirers of the work of these guys and gals! Some very cute (and all lovable) dogs in photograph and video formats.

Sports talk, Rose, Vick, rehab and recognition

Here are my thoughts since these subjects are in the news.

I think Pete Rose should be considered for and voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Here is my reasoning. Yes, gambling and the implications, if not the reality, for throwing a game is rightly considered the greatest enemy to the integrity of the sport. (I would argue that illegal drug use and performance enhancers have overtaken gaming/game throwing to share the greatest threat category, however). So I was certainly in agreement when Pete Rose was banned for life, even though as a fan, I felt the agony along with him of such a finality.

Having said that, however, I have always felt he should be inducted according to his real accomplishments in the sport, minus the punishment he received. Punishing for a wrong doing must logically be separated by a fair minded people from now erasing, shunning or denying what was good and valid in his achievements. If his performance and statistics were achieved because he had clubbed guys on the opposing team on the head before the game, LOL, thus lowering their stats to increase his, of course that would be different. I'm being a little silly in that example just to make a point. Gambling and game throwing, while a severe threat to the sport overall, do not automatically mean either his accomplishments were ill gotten gains either via performance enhancement OR performance degradation of opponents, unless a conspiracy was uncovered where everyone was throwing games in unison. Without such evidence it is obvious that Pete Rose was correctly punished for his proven singular role, but he should still be recognized for his valid and legitimate accomplishments.

This is particularly obvious because after Pete Rose, we now have decades of "asterisk" baseball, where a muddle of baseball achievements will always be questioned because of the years of performance enhancement, such as steroid, usage. This era, by negative example, demonstrate even more the singularity of Pete Rose's misdeed and bad choice. While he committed an error that is considered a grave threat to the sport, the sport itself is now filled with statistics that result from widespread collusion in the use of performance enhancing drugs. This makes what Pete Rose did put in its proper perspective: punishment by banning from the game, yes, but ignoring his legitimate achievements, no. Consider him eligible and be honest in appraising his record and put him in his place in the Baseball Hall of Fame, is my advice.

This makes me think of Michael Vick, as I have thought about him during this week and these past months. Again, as a people, not just sports fans, you must ask yourself one question: Do you believe in punishment followed by a chance at rehabilitation and redemption, or not? Don't be hypocrites. Either you believe in the theory that one punishes according to the crime (and he was given a prison sentence, which he served, fines, loss of his income and job, etc, all as punishment and consequences, such as loss of endorsement opportunities) or you don't. You either believe a fit sentence is adjudicated, served, and then considered completed, or you do not. If you do not that means you don't think anyone can ever be punished enough, and that is a breakdown of both civil and moral code. Secondly, either you believe in rehabilitation and redemption, or you do not. Do not be a hypocrite and say that you are enlightened etc yet you will never trust someone again once he or she had erred. Either you believe in opportunity for redemption, or you do not. If you do not then you seem to fall into a category of considering others (not yourself of course) of being "once stained always stained." Like the hypocrisy of some about punishment, hypocrisy of not believing in redemption is also a breakdown of both civil and moral code.

So I believe that if a team wants to give a chance to Michael Vick, he should be made eligible and allowed to get on with life, consistent with what people SAY they believe about both punishment and rehabilitation/redemption.

Best of luck to both men, and all other people who find themselves in such a situation, and also those in the responsible positions to decide not to be hypocrites.

Understanding God and the forces of evil

I was going to blog about something else, but I go where the need is greatest ;-)

People who know me know that I love the Rev Billy Graham, and am a great fan of his. When I used to post links, before I simplified this blog, his daily question column was highlighted. I urge you all to read his daily column; it's just wonderful.

He's limited by the space of the column, but I am not, ha, so I will add things to what he says, as I will today.

Today's questioner asks the Rev Graham if God is strong enough to overcome evil. Billy Graham gave a great answer, which is that yes, of course God is, and that the only thing that God "cannot do" is to lie, be false, do anything imperfect or evil since God is of course the source and thus the purity of all perfection and goodness (my words not his). I'm just doing a summary as lead in to what I want to add.

However, I spotted something that I'm used to looking for, which is any potential error in assumption that is behind the question itself. This is not criticism, as there is no bad or dumb question except for the question that goes unasked. But sometimes, in fact often, a person asks a question assuming something that is false (behind the question itself), and he or she then assumes that if the questioner answers the question that the conscious or unconscious background assumption is also true. This is an urgent case of this phenomenon in today's column.

I am quite certain, since I've heard this background assumption MANY times before, that the questioner is asking "if God is powerful enough to overcome evil" while at the same time assuming that God IS combating evil at this time. Thus the questioner logically wonders why evil seems so strong if God is combating evil, and God is all powerful. Well, here's the rub. God is not combating evil at this time, as he has left THAT to human free choice. Here is the how and the why.

Adam and Eve, through their free choice, selected evil over good. Adam and Eve had perfection of life as provided by God in the Garden of Eden, yet as soon as they were offered "more," (and the only thing that "more" is, really, is power over other humans via evil knowledge and deeds), they accepted the serpent (Satan's) offer.

Likewise, Satan appears to Jesus, offering him power over the world (which Jesus already has, but Satan means that he wants Jesus to "power share" with him, which means to gain presumably "greater power" since evil deeds, which God will not do, would be "OK.") Jesus of course not only turns down the "offer," but corrects Satan's misconception that any additional true "power" can even be offered, since it cannot. There is perfection of "power" only through God, and only in total service and obedience to God, the source of all power, both on earth and in eternity.

Now, here's where modern people are often confused (the truly older generations were not confused about this), so you young people, pay particular attention to this. Yes, Jesus was given by God to humans to redeem them from original sin, the sin of disobedience caused by Adam and Eve. We've discussed many of the "reasons" and gifts that Jesus brought, such as bringing God's face to humanity, fulfilling the role of Messiah and Savior, the New Covenant, etc.

But neither Jesus nor any of the prophets, nor any human alive has done what the questioner and many assume is actually happening, which is to lead or declare combat "against evil."

Understand this difference. There is a huge difference between refuting evil (proving that evil is wrong) and "declaring war 'against' evil.'" Neither God nor any of his holy humans, or any human that ever lived, or ever will live, is actively "combating" evil. Why? Because to combat evil means to erase humanity and bring about the end of all time. Evil is "baked into" the human condition and psyche because of their own brokenness, woundedness and continual evil choices through the generations. If God actually "declared combat 'against evil'" God would simply do what he is going to do one day, as explained in the Book of Revelation (the Apocalypse) and allow the end to all humanity, rendering the Final Judgment.

You young people have grown up with a fantasy and science fiction view of being a "hero" who is "for good and against evil," which is totally wrong headed. It's not your fault, since you were raised that way without understanding. Genuine heroes, including, and especially, the saints, live among evil infested and evil choosing humanity, and REFUTE evil by LIVING goodness as mandated by God. Evil is "combated" only through the myriad of individual and group choices that people make in normal life. It is not some "toon" with skinny superheroes "fighting evil," and with people (or aliens, or 'mutants') conveniently labeled "good or evil," "hero or villain." That's not life, that's not reality, and it's also not how evil and good work.

Remember that Jesus himself, who is all goodness, would not allow an admirer to call him good. Jesus did that to point out that only God is good. What does that mean? That means, as the Bible constantly teaches, that ALL humans carry the capacity and the active accommodation of evil, ever since, and indeed, as a consequence of, Adam and Eve's first choice to do so.

Previous generations were never under the delusion, that moderns are today, that humans are running around all full of goodness and sugar and 'light,' but fall astray due to that bad old evil. No.... not exactly. As Jesus has stated, no humans are good, only God is good, in the absolute sense. So it's not like perfectly good humans are running around then being tripped up by some 'agent of evil.' Evil is carried and nurtured and accommodated within each and every human, and all societies, generation after generation. Understand there is evil on a grand scale (such as Nazism) but also on the day to day accommodating of evil in the mendacity of the ordinary lives of average people, as they accumulated knowledge of evil, accept evil and indeed even re-label evil (fool themselves that what they are doing is normal and not evil), as regular tools in their lives. There is also the enormous evil of 'missed opportunity,' where people allow evil to happen and deny the choice of goodness and sanctity.

Remember that Adam and Eve did not help the serpent run out and do an evil deed. Adam and Eve chose to accommodate evil, by accepting its knowledge.

All humans enable evil and all generations accumulate knowledge of evil, and expand their accommodation of it, lately of an alarming degree.

So you must understand that God is not 'combating evil' because that would assume that there are "two sides" in a conflict, those who are 'good' and those who are 'evil.' Humans are not good (in the sense of being comprised entirely of goodness, or the potential for being all good), and all humans have at the very least a widespread daily accommodation of evil. For God to 'combat evil' he will allow humanity to destroy itself (under the Antichrist) and then he will send Michael to "officially" 'combat evil,' which means Satan is chained, sure, but um duh, that's because all humans are dead so it's moot whether he walks among them supposedly "causing evil," or not, since the vessels of the potential for evil, humanity, will have all perished and been judged.

So sure, God can "combat evil" with a nanosecond of his tiniest amount of will power, and he will do so, and that means the end of all things human, with the entire world where humans chose evil in the first place passing away out of existence. The resurrected who occupy the world to come, the New Jerusalem, will not have even a speck or particle of temptation to elect evil, so evil will not exist at all, since it will never be given an opportunity for 'birth,' in the world to come after this one is destroyed.

People need to stop thinking about "combating evil," and instead, combat personal and group sin and temptation, so that you can hope to be saved and achieve heaven, and the resurrected world to come, and not go, as MANY, so very many have and will go, to hell.

I hope this helps.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How to compare texting etc with the Bible

I try to think of interesting but most of all helpful topics to discuss with you. I think of these blog postings as discussions, even though you cannot reply directly. I imagine being in conversation with all of you, and I try to think of what questions you might ask and I try to anticipate what you might not understand. Because the need is so urgent and things are such a mess, I felt that it was important to blog something else tonight, so I just thought of this topic.

I was reading some analysis of why some people, particularly the young but by no means confined to them, since they picked it all up from their elders, are so hooked, really addicted, to being in constant communications with friends and strangers through texting. In this article the author pointed out that people will ignore the real live friend they are with in order to constantly check for new emails and texts, even though ninety percent of it is spam or other non-human bonding type of comms like news alerts. Texting is just the latest generation of this growing addiction, since it follows, going back in time, web surfing addiction, email addiction, cell phone calling addiction, back to the very beginning when some people compulsively checked their old fashioned telephone answering machines LOL. The scale and amount of addition to texting and cell phone chatting though, today, is enormous, compared to what was before. So something very different is really taking place and it is distressing and dangerous. I don't mean just the problem of driving an automobile and texting, though that is an obvious severe problem. I mean the spiritual implication of what is going on with true texting and cell phone addicts. So I thought of a way to compare texting (and when I type texting, you can automatically realize I mean both texting and talking constantly on the cell phone) and the Bible! (Or the Qur'an).

I think we would all agree that the reason most of you who are texting/phone addicts is, at the root of it, insecurity and the undercurrent of loneliness. I mean, after all, it is called staying "connected" for a reason. Having lots of people texting you gives you the feeling of being "not lonely." My first observation is that it seems like many people don't value their "alone time" or one friend time as much as it used to be. Here's what I mean. When you have strict (in the good way) parents, and perhaps a number of brothers or sisters, you actually somewhat value and cherish your "alone time" or your "hanging with your best friend" time. It used to be that when you got to break away from the parents and the siblings and go to the mall with your friend, being on the phone was the LAST thing you would have wanted. You'd be thrilled to get a few hours away from the 'ball and chain' of close family living. That's how it used to be in the vast majority of homes. So you went to the mall really to talk with the person you were with, or to be alone and browse the stores without the parents dragging you around to what they want to do, etc. You really loved your alone or one or two best friend time.

Since you were kind of on the clock (expected home) you actually treasured the time and tried to pack in all you could do, both shopping and gabbing and hanging out. Young people of several decades ago would totally not understand why modern young people would want to waste being on the cell phone when you are having your "own" time. So what has changed? I guess not having a two parent family, having broken families, one or both parents work so you have plenty of "alone" time (too much, really), so you really don't value what the older generation of young people felt was a treasure, which was their "on their own time." Which is better? Well, of course I feel that the majority of your time as a kid living at home should be enjoying being with your family, and your friends/shopping/hanging out time is a real treat used and appreciated for just that! I think it is a real bummer that so many young people grew up in homes where you didn't have strict (in the good way) parents, where you were eager to follow mom or dad around and learn about life from them, where you had brothers and sisters who were also traditional and so you had (even if you didn't appreciate it then) the safety net of a large family, etc.

See, when you grow up in what used to be such a "normal" family, instead of the "new normal" of today, you had fullness rather than emptiness. You often had too much fullness, LOL. You had a big demanding family with its structure, and then you had your school, sports, other activities, brothers and sisters AND all the stuff you wanted to do... and then your "alone" time was also full, not empty. Your alone time was when you got to do the stuff you could not do otherwise. Your alone time was when you could go shopping in the mall and buy the clothes that your mom would never have paused to let you look at when you were shopping with her LOL.

But for the past two generations young people have had access to transportation other than their parents, tons of free time, and parents, feeling all "modernized" about it, let their little darlings make their own choices about clothes and so forth. That's cool and I'm not being old fashioned. I'm just explaining to you that alone time in the "old days" used to be a great wonderful opportunity to do what you want, cramming it in while you can, while today alone time seems to be for many young people an uncomfortable potentially lonely vacuum and abyss.

Hence it is not surprising to see young people get their time in the mall, or whatever, and compulsively chat or constantly check for something else to do, since you are filling in time, not grabbing time where at last you can do what you otherwise can't because you are working in the family or school unit of time. A kid from a big family in the old days would be annoyed if he or she got weird messages from people all the time when they only had one hour or two away from the family to be with their best friend, or shop, etc. Today it seems many young people have so much control over their time that they don't value, and even fear, their alone or best friend time. Hence you see best friends sitting together at a fast food place, not talking to each other, but texting and yapping with other people on their cell phones!

Now, let's look at the spiritual side of loneliness. What did people used to do when they had huge drudge work and responsibilities in large hungry poor families day in and day out? Were they ever lonely? Sure, people were lonely, especially if they had lost a member of their family in war or famine, to disease or poverty, but more than lonely they were desperate. As you know from my previous blogs in Biblical times if a widow lost also her only son she might well starve to death, as the husband, and then the son, were the only providers. So people weren't really lonely as much as they are today because 1) they were part of huge close living families and 2) if they were alone they were more concerned with sheer survival rather than missing the company per se of other people.

But there is also another component to the difference between older times and now. People were raised from the smallest children to know about God and to believe in his constant presence. It is unthinkable to me how many children are raised to be irreligious, to know nothing of God at all. I've blogged about this before, how it deprives children of love and comfort to not raise them to know and trust in God at the earliest age. But here's the main point I want to make in this blog. When one is raised as a child to know God, it is like you receive constant text messages from him!

Now, realize I don't mean "channeling" or that God is your shopping buddy, LOL, where you imagine he is commenting on your purchases. What I mean is that people who are raised as children to know about God don't really feel as alone and alienated as others do. The way people learn about God, through scriptures, either listened to (back when people couldn't read or afford a family Bible) or read, gave them a constant sense of companionship. To use a computer analogy, being raised with God is like having God as the wallpaper on your computer of life. LOL, I know that's a little silly, but here's what I mean.

Most people don't, of course, memorize entire parts of the Bible. They know the basic message of salvation, the do's and the don'ts, and also the events of the life of Jesus. But each person tends to carry with them, from childhood, certain parts of scripture that resonates with them. If you get two friends talking who were raised this way, for instance, even if they are discussing shopping or other events, if the conversation turns to modern events or so forth, often each person will reference automatically some part of the scripture that resonates personally. Those parts of the Bible, whether they are actually quotes or just favorite events or principles, are, for such people, like saved text messages.

Think of those few text messages (out of hundreds or thousands that are just fleeting or plain old junk) that you really treasure, and how you save them, and they make you feel good to look at them. They are not, of course, substitute for actively texting a friend. Because, however, you have saved those texts, you can revisit them and feel good, but there is an element of pathos, for if you were busy with a fulfilling conversation at the moment, you'd not be looking back on past saved texts, no matter how happy they were, since you'd be in a current event of new happiness, or at least being busy. The Bible and one's relationship with God, though, is like the best of saved texts that you can receive completely new and in the moment. In other words, each time that you "retrieve" a "saved text" from God, you ARE receiving that affirmation in the here and now, just as if you had only now received that "text" for the first time.

Let us look at an example. Suppose you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, and he or she sent you a really awesome text that you saved. If you are apart from them, you can look at the text, and enjoy seeing it, even if you are a bit sad at being apart. Even then, though, you are looking back at a point in time. But what if you have broken up? It would really be kind of painful, not comforting, to look back on that text, which once made you so happy, but now represents a gone relationship. You could look at it for nostalgia, but it probably is no comfort. So even at its best, when its an awesome text in an ongoing love relationship that you have saved, it's still just a substitute for when you are with the person again.

But let's look at a top favorite traditional "text message from God" and observe the totally different feeling from the example I gave above to you.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

This is probably the most universally heard and beloved "text message from God" of all times.

It is from the Twenty-third Psalm, one that is of great comfort for thousands of years of Jewish and Christian life. When one looks at or just thinks about this "saved text message from God," it's not a bittersweet reminder from a past relationship, nor is it a much loved text message from someone who you are apart from. It is a real, continual, constantly renewed and validated text message from God. People who were raised as children to have God as the known and real comfort in their lives tend to have such favorite "text messages" from God, even if the text message is just a picture of the baby Jesus at Christmas time.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me;
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me in right paths for his name's sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage.
You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.

Many of you, even if not super Bible scholars ;-) will recognize that there are several famous well know "text messages from God" in this one great short and sweet Psalm. In addition to the first line, these are also well known passages that are recalled in heart, if not word for word, my many:

Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil.


Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord [forever].

Whenever one thinks of these three, or any other, "saved text messages from God," they are not frozen remembrances of something that was once true or relevant, but may not be anymore, or at least less so. When one "reads" these "saved text messages from God," you are receiving them anew in the here and the now, over and over, and they never age, become irrelevant, sad, or diminished. It is exactly as if whenever you think of these "saved text messages from God" that he is sending them to you on the spot, because that is the truth. That is one reason why the Bible is called the "living word" of God. It is because it is like saved text messages from God that are sent anew to you, eternally new and current, and all you have to do is think of them to receive them on your "cell phone."

Young people, why not program into your cell phone or whatever your "communications device" may be those three saved text messages from God? See, there are many easy and fun ways to learn, to plug the gap, that may exist between your previous lack of knowledge of God's reality and a fresh new beginning. Put God in your contact list! Really, do program him in :-) and then start to save texts like these.

Here is another one from Psalm 25:

To you I lift up my soul.

This is a reminder that God is always, always, ALWAYS there, and is always in reach, if only you lift up your soul to him.

So have a little fun, but also use that texting capability for some "eternal reality!" I know that people have Bible passage storing programs and capabilities for all communications devices, but that is not what I am teaching tonight. I am teaching something very approachable and very simple. Put God on your contact list and then save a few text messages from him, using the scriptures (or the Qur'an if you are Muslim). Start to get used to this analogy, which is real and genuine, that favorite pieces of scripture are EXACTLY like receiving a beloved and new text message from God over and over again, whenever you want it. That gives the modern texting person a taste of what it is like to have God as your genuine, full time, 24x7 "text buddy," one that never diminishes and never breaks up with you (you can only leave him), and is never out of date or expires. The scriptures, and the Bible events, are the living eternal word of God, and his relationship with all who truly seek him as he really is.

I hope that you have found this helpful and also fun!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Urgent warning about secret languages/scripts

I’m going to interrupt the discussion I have underway regarding confession and so forth because I thought of a GREAT analogy to explain to you a great danger in modern society. This is especially for you, young readers, because it is essential that you understand the trouble inherent with a way of life that you were all born into and assume, wrongly, that it is beneficial and good.

The way of life that you easily use and could indeed say has molded your personalities and spirituality, and not for good, is the use of acronyms, code words, secret languages, and slang with double and “symbolic” meanings. I am going to explain to you why this is totally harmful to you and to humanity in general. Now, I’m not trying to be a hypocrite or alarm you, since I of course use acronyms such as LOL and others that come from computer or phone language. But because I have a foot in both the old/traditional world and the new/messed up world, I can explain to you the problems so you can recognize them.

I’ve explained to you that human bodies exist as they do today because of both biological processes (such as evolution, natural section, survival of the fittest, and the marvelous complexity of life organisms) and spiritual processes (being created in God’s image, being given the conditions on this beautiful earth that allow life, and the ability to know and understand God on his terms). So the bodies that you have, as humans, are suited for the reality of life. Remember, more than ninety nine percent of the time humans existed they did not know how to read or write! Your bodies and your minds, which house your soul as its temple, became optimized simply by living, just living… not through technology, writing or speech. Modern capabilities such as communications have not done one iota to provide better bodies, minds or spirits. Modern capabilities, such as when humans started to speak and write, are benefits only in the collective (the group) because it gives what is called a “survival advantage.” In other words, families and other groups by speaking with each other can survive better.

Now, here is the problem. Let’s start with the analogy using, let’s say in Africa, a deer and a lion.

Deer, like humans, came into marvelous being without speech and writing or technology. The same is true of lions. Thus when a lion starts to stalk a deer in order to hunt it for food, each one, the lion and the deer, are using bodies and minds that exist and are optimized for survival and thriving without any technology or communications. Deer “know” they are potential prey, and they tend to be alert when grazing or at rest. Lions “know” that deer “know” they are prey, so lions know that they have to sneak up on deer or else the deer will run away. For millions of years this relationship has not only worked well, but thrived, with each population becoming healthier and healthier until as much as the earth can sustain of them exists. They thus become kind of their “optimal” condition.

Now, when the deer is grazing it is not wasting “thought time” thinking about lions or other stalkers. It is able to graze or rest and at the same time be alert. Lions also do not have to remind each other using communications to “be quiet” and “sneak up” on deer. They have both the instinct of their species, and they also learned from their parents and other herd or pride members when they were young. So it’s not like one deer has to keep reminding itself to “watch out for predators,” while one lion has to keep reminding the dummy in the pride to not try to walk up to a deer, but to use stealth and sneaky stalking instead. Animals arrive in a natural and REALISTIC harmonious state with each other and the environment.

What if we waved a magic wand and now imagined that deer and lions had these great “gifts” of human types of communication, but only for the stalking/being stalked circumstances? In other words, each animal does not naturally know its own role and responsibilities, but has to use speech and deliberate cues among each other.

Natural scenario: Lion stalks a herd of deer. Deer sees the lion at some point and run. Lion catches one deer that is unable to flee as fast as the others.

Unnatural scenario: Lion stalks a herd of deer, but he needs to hear in his earpiece coaching from other lions about whether to be fast or slow, stalk to the left or to the right. The old lion nags into the earpiece of the stalking lion that he should “be totally quiet” and “avoid walking through branches that might snap and give him away.” However, the brashest of the lions is also speaking into the earpiece of the stalking lion, “Don’t listen to that old coot. Go through the snapping branches but just be fast about it and you’ll catch one.” Odds are the lion will be so confused that he never succeeds in concentrating on what used to be natural to him. Eventually the lions would die out as the gift of “communications” in stalking destroys their natural and seamless integration with reality.

Now, I have been concerned about the unnatural and artificial means of communications that humans have adopted for a long time. I can actually tell you my “Oh, oh” moment, when I got REALLY worried about this problem for the first time. You can even look up on the Internet what year this was (I’m not online as I’m writing this so I’ll just tell you what to search for). It was when I started reading articles about this new “craze” in a “secret language” that English Cockneys, such as taxi drivers, were using. It’s called Cockney rhyming slang. The way that it works is that instead of saying what they mean, they say words that if you do kind of a inner “word association” process to make a link to another word or phrase, and then substitute rhymes of those words, you can figure out what he or she is saying. It made my head hurt when I first read examples, and the decades have not changed my distaste for that trend. Part of the culture is that there is kind of a smirking smugness at having a secret language that is intellectually challenging being used by people who are often dismissed by society as being “lower class.” In other words, the people pushing Cockney slang often had a subversive political chip on the shoulder kind of agenda.

Now, so you young people can better understand this, it was not a short hand for convenience as are texting acronyms. For example, the acronym BRB means “be right back,” a realistic real action that is written quickly using the first letters of each of the three words. I have no quarrel at all with acronyms, even as your spiritual mother who may not be up to date with every acronym, LOL. They are simply quick ways to state real things and it is parents’ responsibilities to learn the lingo of their kids and modern youth. I’m not a hand wringer that using texting acronyms will cause modern youth to read less of the dusty gems of English literature, LOL. But now let me show you how BRB could be changed into either the Cockney rhyming slang, the forefather of the secret languages that I worry about, or an agenda filled cult tool. First, let’s pretend we are doing smug Cockney rhyming slang. I’m going to figure this out as I’m typing it so you can see the process, and thus the danger.

The first word in “be right back” is “be.” Here’s one way to represent the word “be.” You think to yourself that “be” sounds like “bee.” Bees are associated with honey. Honey rhymes with “funny” so you start your “be right back” phrase with the word “funny.” The second word, “right” can mean quickness, as in the phrase “be right back,” but “right” also means direction (to go toward the right) or politics (conservative), or even degree of correctness (to be accurate about something). Suppose that you are a leftist and hate the right wing of politics. If the conservatives were in power, especially if a woman was the figurehead, you might think of the “right” (politics) as being a “bitch.” “Bitch” rhymes with ditch so you substitute “ditch” for the word “right.” You pat yourself on the back a bit how clever you are and how you got “a dig” (pun) in on your imagined enemy, the “right,” even though politics has nothing to do with the expression “be right back.” The third word, “back,” means to return, since the phrase “be right back” means “I will return soon.” However, the word “back” can also mean the reverse side of the body, where the front is the chest and the other side is the “back.” For example the buttocks are also called in English the “backside.” So perhaps you decide to use the word “rump” to invoke the word “back.” You then think of a word that rhymes with “rump” so you might use the word “dump” or “bump.” You’d probably not use “bump” since it starts with the same letter as the word you are replacing, “back,” and that is not clever enough, so you pick “dump.” Thus in your secret language, instead of saying “be right back” you say to your equally clever friend “funny ditch dump.”

You watched me actually think of this example as I typed. So now we look at “funny ditch dump” for the first time as the oh-so-smartass secret language substitute for “be right back.” Fans of this type of secret language would receive special glee from “funny ditch dump” because notice the irony. Without my planning this I’ve come up with a phrase that actually implies the opposite of what you were actually meaning to say. Does a “funny ditch dump” sound like someone planning to BRB? You can giggle when texting your friend who shares your nutty and damaging secret language “FDD” which stands for “funny ditch dump,” which sounds like you are laughing while dumping your text friend in a ditch while at the same time meaning that you will be right back.

When I first read about Cockney rhyming slang I was immediately alarmed on behalf of humanity, seriously. I realized that this thirst for secretive elitist cleverness was corrosive, like acid, on reality and on human mental and emotional connectivity with reality. And I was correct, even more than I had guessed I would be, for there are now millions of people who speak, perform daily task “scripts,” and who have programmed, without realizing it, their own minds to have totally unreal wiring.

So the lion is now stalking the deer. He hears in his earpiece the old lion shout “fee fade ram!” The stalking lion stops dead in his tracks thinking “What?!” He starts to try to decode. What rhymes with “fee?” Is it “he” or “brie?” If he decides the “correct one,” “he,” what word association is with “he?” Is it maybe “she?” What rhymes with “fade?” Is the correct rhyme “jade” or “made?” If it is “made” what does “made” mean in association with? Fortunately the lion watches a lot of TV detective shows and realizes that to be “made” means that a person being followed by someone else has recognized that he is being followed. A follower who reports back to his handlers that his quarry has recognized that he is being followed states “I’ve been made.” So what does “ram” rhyme with? He goes nuts trying to figure out and never does. Needless to say the deer herd is now long gone. When he goes hungry back to the other lions, they berate him for not figuring out their rhyming slang fast enough. Sure, he got the “she made” part but he never figured out what rhymed with ram. The old lion then admits it was a rhyme followed by an association, not an association followed by a rhyme. They were trying to say “she sees you,” referring to the deer he was stalking. “You” was replaced by “ram” because “you” rhymes with “ewe” and the old lion was born under the sign of Aries so of course he put a little self congratulatory “insider’s joke” by linking you-ewe-ram.

Do you notice that no one freaking cares about actually catching the meal that they need to survive?

This is what millions of people, as best as I can tell from my observation (which is pretty thorough) are doing, as yes that many seem to subscribe to cult beliefs and activities that include such highly symbolic, with often reverse meaning and plenty of weird agenda, secret lingo.

They not only add weird layers to what they are trying to say, but they exercise the “unreal” circuitry of the brain, rather than the reality based circuitry. Whenever they hear individual words or phrases in their secret language they no longer have the original content and meaning of any of the plain words, but they also have infested, like with cobwebs, using weird agenda the simple thing that they were trying to say, presumably, in the first place.

For those of you who are not part of this mess, understand that those who use this weird form of acting out and “communications” have filled much of modern media (TV, films, music) with such secret language, messages and phraseology. I have found that many of them grind to a halt in speech when I talk to them as they are, like the lion with the earpiece stalking the would be deer meal, trying to “decode” what I am “really” saying. Um, but I’m just saying what I am saying. They have reprogrammed their own minds to lose all survival instinct because they no longer actually seamlessly process reality: word=what it really means + word=what it really means + word=what it really means resulting in sentence or phrase=what it really means. Over the years I have routinely knocked people I’ve spoken too off of their scripts and secret language because they actually are flustered trying to have a simple exchange of straightforward reality based sentences. I watch them as their eyes flicker and they look away when they wonder if I meant something other than “Nice day today, isn’t it?” And even if they decide I really mean that I think it is a nice day today, they struggle to use some of their secretive agenda driven symbolic “language” to reply. It would be funny if it was not so awful and so lonely. Part of what I hope to do is to teach people to speak simple words that mean simply what they mean to each other again. It’s pathetic and dangerous when I say “nice” day and they are thinking, “she must mean the spice girls” or, rather, to rhyme and word associate the “spice boys.”

I’ve talked about the dangers to mentality, biology and emotions of these secret languages and their warped agendas. You can also infer that the spirit of the authentic human being is damaged by this. As spiritual director I also have to discuss sin with you. Secret languages are a violation of the Commandment that prohibits false witness. Each use of a secret language is an commission of this sin of false witness. Repent and convert before it is too late to even pick up the pieces, the scraps, of what remains of what humanity should and could have been. Young people: if you don’t do it, fix these problems and reclaim your humanity, no one will.

Friday, July 17, 2009

More about youth and life expectancy, Bible

So you have probably realized, young people, and other readers, that when one looks at the facts, just the facts of life expectancy, that humans have evolved physically, mentally and spiritually to be on the threshold of adulthood at early "teenager," which coincides for that reason with the concept of religious adulthood. In other words, when boys and girls become teenagers and reach puberty, they are supposed to be on the brink of adulthood. So what has happened? How have young people become stuck in such an extended period of being somewhat infantalized and condescended to, while at the same time shoved into adult vices at a far too young age?

First, let me repeat and summarize that when God speaks through the prophets and the written scriptures of the Bible (and the Qur'an), and when Jesus spoke to the crowds, ministering, preaching and curing the sick, they were speaking to the "young." The vast majority of people alive at any given time in history until the past hundred years or so were what we call today "teenagers" and people in their twenties. "Teenagers" were the heads of households, the new household they established when they married, started having children, and were able to apprentice or work in whatever (mostly agricultural) means of life that they possessed. So when the Bible gives admonitions, advice, and directions for parents, for example, those parents were not like parents today: they were young people who were in their teens and twenties who were already halfway through the best they could hope for regarding a life span. Making to the forties was really something. The "elders" that are referenced in the Bible are folks in the grand old ages of the thirties!

So God spoke to that majority of population since that's the way it was. Further, humans evolved biologically, socially and spiritually to be ready for entry into adulthood in their teen years. Children, of course, were raised from the cradle to know the reality of God's existence. By around the age of seven children knew the difference between good, righteous behavior and sinful behavior. Children knew about God and the difference between goodness and sin by around that age. That is why in many cultures there were arranged marriages starting around seven or eight years old, to be fulfilled when the children reach puberty. Children were recognized as being capable and mature enough to know about God, about life, and about good deeds or sin at around that time. When children reached puberty they are expected to be fully schooled in God. Why? Because they were about to become parents themselves, who have the responsibility for providing religious instruction to their own children! At the same time they have worked side by side with parents, and extended family, to learn the family agriculture and trade.

Back to that question, then. How did we get from "there" to "here?" There are two reasons things are so messed up today. Both resulted from "good intentions" with really warped results.

1. During the industrial revolution, when factories and so forth came into existence, children were terribly exploited. Instead of working with their families "in the fields" to provide traditional means of supporting the family, they became urbanized, impoverished, sent to cities, and forced to beg or work in factories. All you have to do is read some Dickens to understand what I mean. Thus a great movement started for child protection, and labor laws came into existence, plus mandates for state provided schooling during certain ages. It all seems obviously good: stop forcing children to work or to beg, and make "going to school" their "job" until the age of eighteen.

But you see the problem? Youth are not meant, either biologically/mentally or spiritually, to be "frozen" in some infantilized "job" of "going to school." Youth are meant to be on the brink of adulthood, in both philosophy and reality of skills, in their early teens! Thus modern youth are three generations downstream from the time when they were "adults in training," who were capable of heading families, who had real skills in addition to school learning. That's why a lot of youth are frustrated and act out, and get into "trouble..." they are biologically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually ready for MUCH more than they have, and instead they are stuck in a demographic of being consumers (they spend money) while in enforced infantalizing in years and years of schooling and nothing else.

My own father, born in 1903, is an example of how it used to be. He had a genius IQ yet dropped out of school in eighth grade because he was ready to get on with life. I'm not urging everyone to drop out, by the way, LOL. But I'm explaining why many of you have those instincts, and it's not laziness. My father was of the last generation that learned how to be ready as a head of household IN PARALLEL with "book schooling" as a child. His generation knew how to do things, how to earn a living and how to provide for a family, in parallel with going to school, not a painfully extended "before" and "after."

When life was much more agricultural and skilled trade (as in knowing a craft) oriented, children and youth learned those trades and participated in farming while at the same time getting "schooling" and "book learning." This was true of both the minority wealthy and the majority poor. People of only one hundred years ago (say nothing of Biblical times) would be stunned and unable to comprehend how youth are kept infantalized and stuck in a one hundred percent schooling "job" for the first two decades or MORE of their lives!

So the desire to protect children from abuse and the demands for certain types of laborers conspired to turn good intentions into really unfortunate outcomes. Youth got "protected" right out of their training and responsibility to be young adults when they are biologically and spiritually ready.

2. The second problem is another "good start but got lost along the way" development, which is that life expectancy was vastly improved with advances in health, technology, medicine, nutrition, and so forth. So instead of being fortunate to achieve 40 years old, as was most of human existence, in the past one hundred years people have good reason to expect an additional several decades at least, particularly in developed countries. So instead of this:

child...teenager...head of household...elder...maybe live until forty years old...

we now have:

school age child...graduate school or first job...maybe family maybe not...middle age crisis...maybe family maybe not and maybe financially secure and maybe not....retirement...the battle to stay alive in old age using medicine etc.

Do you see how weird that is if you look at it that way? Instead of being like winning the lotto and now everyone is living longer, but living the same way in the beginning, the whole definition of the cycles of life have become stunted.

What should have happened is that life should have still be "front loaded" toward youth, rather than diluted and deferred into the newly available space of supposedly extended life spans.

Humans are designed, biologically, honed in evolution in society, and spiritually prepared (and respected by God) to be ready for much more "brink of adulthood" in their youth. Youths should be much more a part of the actual working of the economy, be self sufficient in skill development, and ready for family leadership at the same time as receiving appropriate schooling.

And do you now see the dark side of this also? When one has infantalized two decades of youth, yet they are ready for more, two very bad things happen. One is that predator adults exploit youth who are "ready" for "adult experiences," but are not receiving them in the proper order of things, and so they are more tempted to "feel adult" in various vices and bad choices. Second, youth try to be adults on their own, but instead of being spiritual and skilled adults in training, they do dumb and dangerous things. Gangs are an incredibly obvious example of this. Counselors are only partly right when they say that gangs are attractive to those youth who have broken families, where the gang is compensation for the missing or dysfunction family. What is not discussed enough, if at all, is that gangs are the "answer" to the eternal student/consumer infantalizing of youth. Gangs are attractive when individuals feel the adult responsibility urges and desire apprenticeship, but society has eliminated and indeed forgotten totally that role. More "recreation facilities" is not the only answer. A role of consumer/recreating/student is entirely infantalizing, even though each of those three roles are in and of themselves very important and worthy.

So when humans received the gift of extending their life spans by better hygiene, nutrition, health, medicine, housing, etc in the matter of just a few generations this changed the whole successful "formula" of front loaded youth preparation for adulthood into a bizarre frozen holding pattern. And trust me, I don't mean that youth is no longer fun the "old way." Youth is much more fun if you are not in an infantalizing school gulag and consumer/recreation rat race. Youth wants responsibility and apprenticeship. Again, think of the gang example. How "fun" are gangs? They are not "fun," whatever else they might be. But all youth crave being part of the reality of life, and that is given through responsibility and apprenticeship, either the good kind or, by increasing default, the bad kind.

I suspect this is very helpful to many, so I'll do more on this subject as I give you time to think about and discuss each day's blogging on it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

More about life expectancy, death, Bible times

Hi again, especially my young readers. I thought of an image related to the previous blog posting that I want to share with you. I know that this generation has grown up receiving much of their entertainment but also much of their knowledge (and the two are dangerously blurred) from electronic images, and I'm glad to work with you where it is useful by using movie and other analogies.

All right, you've now had time to think about what I wrote, which is that for the vast majority of human history the population alive at any time was capped in the vast majority at the MAX of people in their thirties, who would have been considered "elders." People just didn't live much beyond forty as recently as one hundred years ago. Teenagers were not "teenagers," but were expected to be living as adults and were looking forward to adult responsibilities and starting families. A "teenager" was most likely already halfway through his or her life expectancy.

Now, think back about two things. Think of how the Bible is slandered as being about and for "old men." Duh, wot? Just like some think that the book classics are just books written by and for "old white men," many think the Bible is likewise. Not so much! The Bible was written for and given to young people who were, well, the only ones who were alive, what we would consider teenagers, young adults and - at most - "entering middle age" today. So the Bible was not written "for" old people: it was written for YOU.

Second, now you can think of how inaccurate the central casting is for those old Bible Hollywood epics. Lots of middle age extras made up the crowds, but that was wrong. Moses would have been giving the Ten Commandments to lots of families with "teenage" parents, and the "crowds" of freed Israelite slaves who were the first Jews living under the Law of God would have been children (real children), teenagers (starting their own families), the bulk of people in their twenties, and the "elders" in their thirties, with a few in their forties. If you wanted to watch an accurate portrayal of those times, that would be the ages of the general population being portrayed.

Sure, the Bible books were written by older men, but that's for two reasons. Um, who lives long enough to know what happened over a period of thirty or forty years, and what God said and what the Israelites did? Yep, someone old enough to have lived that long. And the second reason why the Bible books were written by older men? Who knew how to read and write? It wasn't discrimination, but only those of the older priesthood and so forth had the time to be able to author the books, telling what had taken place, and two, only they had access to scribes (scribes being those who wrote on behalf of the vast population of people who could not read or write since they were busy scratching out survival through farming, hunting and herding animals).

Thus, you must realize that when Moses "addressed the people" and when God gave his Commandments and other laws, and when Jesus preached and performed miracles, this was all to populations the VAST majority of whom were in their teens, twenties and thirties.

It is a HUGE, but very necessary, change in your mental imagery to realize that in the olden days there were not the olden people, LOL. Far from being dismissive that the Bible (or the Qur'an) is for the old, remember that life expectancy chart and change your mental view of what people looked like then from being what you imagine lots of old folks to be like today with the correct image of teenagers who were head of households, parents many times over in their twenties, and "elders" in their thirties, not expecting to live much longer than forty at best.

Young friends, the Bible and the Qur'an were written for YOU, my friends, for you.

When God admonished parents to raise their children properly, he was addressing teenagers and those in their early twenties who were already parents... and that was everyone (except for a few who chose ascetic lives, often becoming religious single people). It would be the thirteen years old and over crowd who would have paid the most attention to what to do as they were on the brink of starting the adult phases of their lives.

This is another way of understanding that just because modern society seems to think that youth is somewhat moronic and unable to be adult (and then reinforces that through how you are educated and treated), yet wonders why teenagers are ready to be mature in ways that maybe they aren't yet, the Bible certainly does not trivialize youth and consider it a "waiting" and "growing up" period. Thirteen year olds were expected to have a mature relationship with God of many years already because THEY were about to become parents who would be passing this on to THEIR children.

God takes everyone very seriously and he addressed himself to everyone very seriously. This has not changed, just because people live longer. God has the same expectations at the same ages as he always has, and always will.

Here's something ironic. The very people who rant about teenage pregnancy and figure that God would disapprove are forgetting that it was mostly teenagers (and those in their twenties) who were alive and pregnant during Biblical times and for most of human history until the past one hundred years or so. Lots of reasons for why that societal mental shift occurred, but my point is that this shift has nothing to do with God. God considers a child of around seven or so to now be old enough to distinguish between righteous behavior and sin, and to have a knowing relationship with God and his doctrine. God considers a boy or girl of thirteen or so to be a religious adult. By that I mean that God considers entry into the teenage years as being the time that in religious law and custom (and thus knowledge and relationship with God), a boy or a girl is an adult.

Do you see again the problem I raised in the previous posting? Modern society may think it's OK to encourage children to goof around and not take religion seriously because they have "time" to make such a "decision," but it sure doesn't say that in the Bible or the Qur'an. How do we know that? Because, as I said, consistently for thousands of years of human existence you only HAD teens, twenties and thirties... that WAS the circle of life, and a serious one it was. Children were schooled in scripture as soon as they could understand it, so that they would know and understand God, his reality in their lives, and his expectations AND because a thirteen year old boy or girl is now considered an adult both religiously and biologically, on the brink of starting their own families.

It's society that has changed, not your human conditioning and timing, nor has God's expectations. In many ways this should be a relief to you to understand that God certainly does not intend to be a "mystery" to be "found" by browsing many goofy cult or agnostic menus, where you "wonder" if he is "real" until you make an "adult" choice after "years of questing." Hardly. God intends that every child be consecrated to him and to know him and understand his love (and expectations). So you should be relieved to know that God certainly does not intend and in fact it is against his will that he should be withheld, and most especially untruthfully, from any child. In another way this should be kind of annoying, not toward God, but toward your families and school systems who have totally dropped the ball about the reality of God. Those many of you who have grown up without God have a right to be peeved, and you should be more peeved about that than not having the latest iPhone or iPod, Blackberry or whatever.

As young people, you learn more about yourself, and are happier with yourself and others (that old self image and "why am I here" issue) when you know the truth and have grown up with the truth, rather than the half a**ed "perceptions" that your parents and often grandparents have given to you. That is their failing and also how they may have been deprived themselves, growing up. You can be sympathetic but time's a wasting, and you ought to be a bit peeved, and you ought to feel some sense of urgency.

I'm not being melodramatic in the old "hey, someone might die before being saved" focus. What I mean is that when someone doesn't know the truth of a huge chunk of reality, everything else that you do gets skewed, either deliberately or incidentally. If you don't know the truth about life, death, God and his control, God and his love and his wishes for people's grace, and the reality of eternal life with or without him (in that very bad place), then you make a whole slew of other really poorly informed decisions AND, unlike the young Biblical teenage adult, you are in no position to pass the truth on to your younger siblings, your friends and ultimately your own children. I totally cannot believe what a disaster this has become (not the behavior of young people but the nearly total severing of the knowledge of God from generation to generation, which, as you now realize, was continual despite harsh and short lives AND lack of reading or writing, previous to the past one hundred years or so).

As much as I was expecting it to be bad, I am still stunned, on a daily basis, of how each crop of children have been less and less knowing the truth and reality of life, and being totally severed from God himself, or, even if they've "heard of the possibility of God," an accurate scriptural knowledge (remember, scriptures are what God tells the people he is in his own words). Really, I find the rapidity by which the truth of God and of life in general decayed and has been totally warped to be astounding to me, and probably the only thing that I can say has actually surprised me about my time on earth thus far.

So remember.... central casting has it all wrong. Throughout human history it's not the "old white men," it's been children, teenagers, twenties, thirties (elders) and if folks were fortunate and prosperous, those real oldsters who made it over forty. I hope that you have found this helpful and maybe rocked your world some. It should, really, it should.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Candid talk about life expectancy and death

I am especially directing this particular blog posting to you young people, who I always have in mind. Be assured I am not trying to bum you out, because if you think about what I am writing here, you will see its purpose is the opposite, to make you more realistic and thus have more positivity about both life and what to expect after life.

Young people, the first thing you need to understand is that you were raised by a generation, perhaps even two generations, who have taken an "average" or a long lifespan for granted. They have thus passed on to you some legitimate, but also some very bogus, expectations. Those of us who are older, and, more importantly, had very sound scientific and anthropological subject material in school, have a different, more realistic view of not only the biological life and its priorities but also the spiritual life. Your parents, grandparents and your school systems have done you no favors in this regard. It is urgent that you rethink the unconscious assumptions that you have.

First, look at this article, but most especially the chart.

Here is the punch line. Do you realize that until the last century for ALL of human history that the average lifespan of humans was through the twenties, lower thirties, and sometimes the forties? That is what that chart shows you, that as recently as a few hundred years ago most people could not expect to life much past forty.

Let that sink in for a moment. For the hundreds of thousands of years that what is considered to be modern humans existed, until the last one hundred years or so, virtually all humans could only expect to live a MAX of forty years. Most were considered old and "elders" in their thirties.

This should make you realize a few things now about the scriptures. First, it is very significant and indeed a proof of God's existence that at the time when most humans lived only until their thirties, God told them that their maximum years would be one hundred and twenty. Even the wisest prehistoric scholars could not have figured that out and anticipated such an age limit which has been demonstrated to be precisely true.

Second, it means you have to take seriously the immense ages of some of the patriarchs mentioned in the Bible. People simply would not have made up that a FEW specific named people blessed by God in the times between Adam and Eve and Abraham lived for hundreds and hundreds of years. It is exactly the astonishment of such longevity that resulted in those life spans being recorded in the Bible. Think about it..... of all the things that we today think are "important events," during the times recorded in the Book of Genesis, what is the only "facts" that people recorded? Those several key blessed patriarchs and the ages to which they lived. Other than genealogies those are really the only "facts" of those times: not dates of founding of cities, not amount of wealth, not years of battle victories or other "historical" "facts" like we would record today, but the extraordinary statement by God that due to human disobedience and limitations they can only expect natural life to reach one hundred and twenty years AND the recording of very few people in history who, filled with the Spirit of God, lived remarkably extended lives.

Now, my point is not to focus on those few individuals, the likes of which humans will never see again, for they truly lived when God was present among his people in their early rising and faith history. My point is to get you to not take an "average" or a "long" lifespan for granted, and also to explain some cold and hard facts to belie sentimentality that has crept into the modern psyche.

I am very concerned, as I have for decades, about an assumption that has crept into modern thought, which is that somehow if one suffers a "tragic" or "early" loss of life, that somehow God "makes it alright." To be blunt, many young people have been raised to think that if someone dies young, or if someone of any age dies tragically, that somehow, even if they are the most godless person in their life, that a young or "sad" death gives them some sort of bonus brownie points to achieve heaven. Seriously, so many people think that someone who ignored God while they were alive and even worked against his will, living godless and totally selfish lives filled with pointless activities, that if he or she dies sadly, tragically, at a young age, or was "so nice" and "much loved" or "much admired," that he or she gets a free pass card to the heaven that they didn't even believe in or witness to, and that they are "now at peace."

Think about how illogical that is. For most of human existence virtually every human barely made it out of their twenties alive. Duh. God would certainly not have set up a "bonus point" system for sad and early deaths when obviously ALL FREAKING PEOPLE DIED YOUNG FOR MOST OF HUMAN EXISTENCE.

In Biblical times, boys and girls who reached puberty were eagerly looking forward to being adult enough to marry, have responsibility for some sort of household, and start to raise a family. This is why the age of thirteen is such a "coming of age" in many cultures, and of course very much in the Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions. Get real, people. At the age of thirteen people were already approaching their life expectancy halfway point.

Thus the Bible, and the Qur'an, were written when people who turned thirty were viewed as "old" or "elders." This is why Jesus Christ started his public ministry around that age, by the way. And at his age, around thirty-three, when he died, it was the greatest tragedy and injustice in human history, but to that reality one cannot say that "he died young." The life expectancy of everyone, in general, around the world was their thirties, perhaps to forty.

So you must drop the notion that because human prosperity, health, hygiene and technology have helped many humans reach the average age of seventy (more in developed countries, of course), doubling what humans had expected until then, that God has some particular special treatment for those who "die young" or "die tragically." Um, that actually has been the entire story and lot of all of human history to date, that life was a struggle to survive day to day, to raise a family, to thrive, and to make it to one's "elder" status years, which was one's thirties.

With that in mind, you must realize that God does not "allow" or "bake into the plan" decades of youthful denial and occult or other "experimentation." Again, modern people, being raised by parents who are spoiled by their recent longevity and prosperity, somehow assume that God "understands" if children are raised godless, if teenagers and young adults "experiment with exotic beliefs" and if people are "too busy" or "too artistic" in their twenties and thirties to care about believing in God. That is a total error and one that is dangerous to the extreme. It not only puts decent living and good choices in peril (the old "I've got lots of time to straighten out" myth) but it also is, frankly, delusional to think that God is going to allow into heaven generations that are more unbelieving and disrespectful of him than ever in human history.

God is one hundred percent truth and one hundred percent consistency. He is constant in his availability to love and forgive even the most egregious sinner. But he is also constant in allowing the consequences of the same behaviors throughout all of human history to determine if an individual is saved (achieves heaven) or not (is assigned to hell for all eternity).

I know that when someone dies young and/or tragically, no one wants (or should) look at the grieving family and say, "Wow, it's too late for him or her to be saved," even if that is most likely factually true. That's cold hearted and cruel, and it is also not recommended that one speaks for God. However, it is equally a disservice for these past two generations to think that someone young who has lived very un-Christian lives, disbelieving and flaunting God, but who was "bubbly" or "artistic" or "sad" and "tragic" gets some sort of bonus points to cancel out their having done NOTHING to merit salvation!

To put it in systems terms: heaven is NOT the default location.

There is advice that I would give to anyone who asks who has suffered a loss in their family of such a person, and maybe I would give it if asked, it's not something that can be easily blogged about, as my advice must tap and utilize the specific level and type of the faith of the persons who are asking. But I CAN tell all of you reading this to understand the facts and be more sane and realistic than your parents' generation (and even some grandparents'). God gave the Bible and the Qur'an to humans for specific reasons: so humans understand the truth, and what God expects from them. As I've blogged before, you must understand the cultural context of the times when the scriptures were articulated, in order to fully comprehend all the fullness and richness of meaning. Here, then, is another example where you cannot read the Bible with modern filters. You cannot be reading the Bible and thinking that an elder is someone in their sixties, seventies and eighties. You cannot read the Bible and think that God is cutting slack for youth. He is not. When God refers to children he means children, as in very young children... God is not even meaning teenagers when he refers to children. As I said, at thirteen most were getting ready to establish their own households. At thirty they were elders. There is no "slack" built in for "young people" to "experiment" and to "choose" "their spirituality" and "whether to 'believe or not.'"

I hope that you have found this helpful.