Lying ‘to do God a service’?

I’ve been doing a bit of catching up on my Bible reading and have recently been hanging out in the book of Job. Now, you’ve got to wonder about the book of Job. Most of the time it’s summed up by a preacher in about three chapters (the first two and then the last one), basically they say: Job’s a good guy, devil asks to test him, God let’s him take away everything Job has and even gives him boils, Job doesn’t curse God, and in the end God comes in a violent storm and then returns to Job double what he originally had, the end.
What we barely ever spend much time on is the nearly 40 chapters of conversation between Job and his three ‘counseling’ friends. I could be wrong but I think that is the longest conversation that there is in the Bible, and it’s an definite argument no less. And I’ve been spending the past two days sitting in the midst of these arguing friends, and boy is it something.

I think there are a ton of situations where you could apply some of the wisdom found here, like don’t argue with someone who just lost everything, but I think you can figure those out. Instead, I’d like to just point out one of the interesting passages I ran across that I think might lend us some insight. (This is from The Message, I looked at the NIV too and I think it’s a acceptable translation)

Job to his friends:
“are you going to keep on lying ‘to do God a service’?
to make up stories ‘to get him off the hook’?
Why do you always take his side?
Do you think he needs a lawyer to defend himself?
How would you fare if you were in the dock?
Your lies might convince a jury-but would they convince God?
He’d reprimand you on the spot
if he detected a bias in your witness.
Doesn’t his splendor put you in awe?
Aren’t you afraid to speak cheap lies before him?”

Have you been there? Eagerly trying to ‘defend God’ with your human wisdom? Is that why we are so into apologetics and theological study?

I wonder if our lack of awe at this concept of god we argue the case of, is the very thing that keeps those we argue against from seeing the splendor and standing in awe of the true living God?

On using icons and depictions of Jesus in the church

In church the other day I was surprised to see two small paintings toward the front of the building depicting Jesus. I recognized them and I believe the appropriate term for them is an “icon.” (I could definitely be wrong on that).

White JesusThey where obviously painted a few centuries ago. They didn’t look exactly like this but similar. By similar I mean it was the long haired white Jesus we seem to see portrayed everywhere we look. So much so I think we actually think he looked something like that. Now I don’t know much about historical looks and fashions but I’m fairly confident that is NOT what he looked like.

Jesus JesusIn fact, I just so happened to see that educational show the other day where they went through all kinds of evidence and have come to the conclusion that he looked something like this. I’m really not quite sure if they are right, but at least they gave it a good long consideration.

Black JesusNow the reason I’m bringing this up is mainly that I think it’s a dangerous and troubling thing that we’ve got all these white Jesus pictures hanging around. The main argument I hear in response when I bring this up is that they are historical, and thus because of their history have value, regardless of how inaccurate they are. I think that is just ridiculous. I also hear people talk about how Jesus becomes like one of us, so a white church can have a white Jesus, a Hispanic church can have a Hispanic Jesus, etc. Now if we are happy and content with our racial divided churches then this might seem slightly feasible, especially if we wanted to promote our racial superiority in our theology (That was extremely sarcastic and I hope you see the terrible flaws in it). I’ll write more at some point about the damage these sorts of imagery cause to children with different skin colors (then the one on the Jesus picture).
For now, I’d just like to say to every person who goes to a church where there are white Jesus’ hanging around, that it’s time you either get a vastly more accurate picture of what Jesus looked like, or you start putting up more depictions of Jesus from other cultures. I guess next Sunday I should bring in this depiction of Jesus.

free-will vs. predestination: I’m NOT a robot.

I probably won’t get to my thoughts about the Biblical foundations about free-will and predestination in this post at all. Rather, I’d like to address one of the dangers that comes up when we start to get honest and talk about this subject. Listen carefully and you might pick up on which direction I lean.

First and foremost, I am NOT a robot. I know you where probably constructing your theories and questioning whether the pictures are real, but seriously I’m not. What I mean by saying this is to address the most common response I hear from people when they are presented with the idea of predestination. IF predestination is true they say, then no choice they make is their own, they are a robot pre-programmed for every action. Therefore, one might say, what is the use of doing anything? I’ll just sit here, cause obviously that’s what God predestined me to do right?
Whether I believe theologically in predestination or not, I am still personally physically and mentally making my own decisions. If I jump, sit, sleep, eat, smile, yell, or laugh, each I have complete control over those choices (whether I’m predestined to do them or not).
I’ll try to present a brief anology, but it will fall short of proving effective unless you do your best to stretch your imagination a little. The whole problem with an anology on this topic is it is an attempt to explain God with human consructs, I find that’s not quite possible. You’ve probably seen one of those magic tricks online where you read a series of things and then say the first word that comes to your mind, “carrot” and low and behold there it is when you scroll down the very word you where thinking of. The reason they knew is because people simply tend to choose that word. But they didn’t FORCE you to choose that word. Now, what if we just always chose that word, that’s just the way people are…would that mean we suddenly lost our free-will? Now multiple that infinity times.

To Be Continued… (In other words, at some point I WILL talk about which I believe [I’m not quite sure yet] and why).

Back in Business

Well, there is plenty of good news to share with you.
1. Best Buy replaced my computer hard drive for free (Service plan)
2. They gave me my old hard drive back (would have cost $90 for them to try and back it up)
3. I’m currently pulling almost ALL of my old files off the old hard drive.
4. I might be able to format the old drive and still use it!

That being said, I hope you didn’t mind my week long vacation from writing. I can’t write quite as well on other computers I’ve realized so I’m here again now, and I’ll get back to our regularly scheduled writings. I hope you’ve been missing reading the posts and listening to the podcast. If not, maybe now would be a good time for me to stop…

Posting sporadic, due to technical difficulties

By technical difficulties I mean that my computer isn’t turning on at all. Guess that hard drive just got tired of multiple podcast, blog post, and web design projects and just decided to quit. Never fear though, the good ‘ol Best Buy warranty has come to the rescue and I should be back up and running in the next few days or so. I’m typing on my wife’s computer before she needs it for class today. Not having a computer easily available, just for the past day, has reminded me how much I depend on it (with an internet connection) for so many things. Here’s a brief list of things I WOULD have done on the computer, but had to use alternatives for.

  • Look up Best Buys phone number (used the yellow pages)
  • Get directions to Best Buy (asked and then guessed)
  • Check the weather (guessed it was cold)
  • See if my library books on hold where in. (didn’t)
  • Put a book I just read about on hold (didn’t)
  • Checked my most recent bank and loan balances (didn’t)
  • looked up mutual funds info (didn’t)
  • Paid some bills
  • wrote a response to something I read (used a notebook)
  • That’s just a brief list. Now some of those things I have chosen to be dependent on a computer for (paying my bills), but others it’s much easier to do with a computer (check weather or directions) or not really even possible without (look up mutual funds info).

    One might argue we’ve become too dependent on computers, and I’d probably agree. I think we’ve also become to dependent on phones, and cars, and toilets.

    Do you think you could one day start living with no modern conviences? (maybe sort of like the Amish…)

Interview with Adria : Coffee Lover Extraordinaire

After a morning hanging out with Adria and helping her get ready to do her own podcast I couldn’t let her go with out you getting a chance to hear a little from her and some of the things she’s interested in. I hope you enjoy Adria’s podcasting debut and stay tuned for links to her upcoming podcasts.

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  • Adria shares her thoughts on fair trade coffee and Bongo Java’s story.
  • You hear it hear first: Adria’s business venture
  • Adria has a long line of entrepenuers in her family

Read more of Adria’s Thoughts, writings, and soon to be Podcast:

Dorothy Day Quotes: A Servant of God

Dorothy Day, declared a Servant of God by the Catholic Church, is well known for her Social Justice work and helping start the Catholic Worker Movement. She is truely a great leader both of her day and for us now. I couldn’t find a good collection of her powerful words so I thought I’d leave you with some here. I’ll write more of my thoughts later.

Dorothy Day

Quotes from Dorothy Day:

We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.

The work is more important than the talking and the writing about the work.

I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions

Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed so easily.

The best thing to do with the best things in life is to give them up.

Young people say, What is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at at time, take one step at a time; we can be responsible only for the one action in the present moment. But we can beg for an increase of love in our hearts that will vitalize and transform all our individual actions, and know that God will take them and multiply them, as Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes.

The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?

Love and ever more love is the only solution to every problem that comes up.

(The following are from a compilation by Robert Ellsberg as published in Geez Magazine)

Love of Brother means…non-participation in those comforts and luxuries which have been manufactured by the exploitation of others.

Poverty means having a bare minimum in the way of clothes and seeing to it that these are made under decent working conditions, proper wages and hours, etc. The union label tries to guarantee this.

Poverty means not riding on rubber while horrible working conditions prevail in the rubber industry. Poverty means not riding on rails while bad conditions exist in the coal mines and steel mills. Poverty means not accepting that courteous bribe from railroads, the clergy rate.

Of course, we are not all given the grace to do such things. But it is good to call to mind the vision. It is true, indeed, that until we begin to develop a few apostles along these lines, we will have no mass conversions, no social justice, no peace. We need saints. God, give us saints!

How far we all are from it! We do not even see our infirmities. Common sense tells us, “Why live in a slum? It is actually cheaper to live in a model housing project, have heat and hot water, a mauve or pink bath and toilet, etc. We can manage better; we have more time to pray to meditate, study….Yes, we will have more time with modern conveniences, but we will not have more love.

Tech Friday: An intro to RSS Readers

rss icon If you haven’t run across this icon in the last few months you probably haven’t been online period (or on my site since it’s sitting right over there on the sidebar). What is this funny orange symbol you ask? and why does it matter?

That my friend, is an icon indicating an RSS “feed” which is basically a neatly packaged format for the content from a website, blog and much more. The best analogy I can think of is like a customizable newspaper on speed. Before newspapers if you wanted to know anything you had to go out and see it yourself. You might hear about news from thirty different people throughout the day, which was fine, but it would have been nicer if you knew they would all just come and tell you the details when you where ready for them to. Thus, the newspaper was born: News about a wide range of topics delivered right to your doorstep for you to read when it’s convienent for you. That was all fine and dandy till the Internet came along. And for that we meet our friend RSS.

With RSS you can compile your own newspaper, exactly the way you like it. Want sports news? Pick just the authors you like to read, or just the teams you want to follow. Want the weather? Pick just your home town, and maybe the forcast in the town your roadtriping to. But it get’s better. Want to know when your the package you shipped or ordered is arriving? track it with RSS.
And then it get’s really specific. I have RSS for any comments anyone leaves on any of my blogs, so I don’t have to click around checking them each individually. I have RSS from all my friends blogs, so I know when they’ve posted without having to check their individual site. I also RSS searches on ebay and craigslist for items I’m looking for. Pretty specific, if you catch my drift.

Now, I’ve done a bit of looking around at different RSS readers and each one has their own unique features, so today I’ll just introduce you to the one I use: Bloglines.
There are a few features I really like about bloglines. One, they make it quite user friendly to subscribe to different RSS feeds for blogs, weather, package tracking, etc. Also, since a number of people use it I’ve found some nice hacks and userscripts to make it even easier to use. Another really great feature is that you can setup email accounts so that any email subscriptions you have can show up in your RSS reader rather then your email inbox. That’s one of my favorite features. You can catagorize things into sections and read everything in that section, or click on just that individual feed. All very nice.

Ready to get started? Here’s a step by step guide:
1. Register at Bloglines.
2. Subscribe to Trying to Follow with one click:
Subscribe in Bloglines
3. Be Happy.

Tech Fridays: a little something something

Sidenote: I might be getting a little overly ambitious, but I think these sorts of weekly topical post might be just the ticket to keep my fingers rolling across these keys and sharing the latest info I can find with you.

Tech Friday’s will mostly be my attempt to update my readers in user friendly language, about the cool new things I’ve come across in my web searching and perusing online.
I won’t be talking about the new gadget to buy, but maybe the latest freeware to download. It might be a website to checkout or a piece of software that will make your life easier. It might be uncomputer related but “techie” nonetheless. I’ll try to walk you through a couple of useful things each week and hopefully one of them will peak your interest a little.

If you have a topic or area of things you’ve been looking for let me know and I’ll tell you what I find.

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