Wonder Bread Preaching

II Timothy 4:3-4
“3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

Building Old School Churches

Wonderbread1I was listening to a show on Christian radio yesterday and the host mentioned that what American Christians need and want is deep, compelling, convicting, expository, and doctrinal preaching. She’s not the first person I’ve heard on the radio who has made a statement along those lines, and of course the callers all agree with those sentiments.

I, however, am not so sure. I certainly agree that American Christians NEED that kind of preaching, but I’m far less convinced that they WANT that kind of preaching.

For instance, in our city (and I strongly suspect this holds true for the majority of American cities) the churches that are most popular with Christians are the ones where the sermons are light, entertaining, topical, amusing, anecdotal, doctrine-free, and generally about 15 to 25 minutes long. There are a few exceptions, but the rule still applies. Light and fluffy is what draws crowds.

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Book Review: A Night in Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny

A Night in the Lonesome OctoberA Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this book to be quite charming. As a mostly fantasy fan not fond of change and pretty much isolated in my fandom, I used to stick to a couple of authors I knew I liked and simply reread them over and over. As I’ve made contact recently with a wider sff community, I’ve been branching out, trying authors I’ve heard of as ‘classics’ but never read. Roger Zelazny combines so many elements of fiction, horror, and myth and does it so well, one is carried from beginning to end with pure joy, never knowing what or who will spring up next.

Told from the perspective of the animal familiars, this story of the mysterious event that comes when a full moon falls on All Hallow’s Eve, when the curtain between the worlds, apparently *all* worlds, is weakened and thinned, is assigned a chapter a day. This allows fans to read all month long, building up to the big night with the characters or bite off huge chunks, as one desires. The twists, turns, and quid pro quo exchange of information is a lesson in negotiation any politician could benefit from. Givens the hints as to Jack’s identity, it is all the more fitting that his companion, Snuff, should be a dog, “Man’s First Friend”.

The switch at the end is great. One can find friends in the most unlikely of places.

View all my reviews

Essay: The Bible is Not Misogynistic

 

As some may know, I have been taking an online class at edx.org on How To Write An Essay. This is my final draft. The grading criteria and my score is after the essay. The essay was written following MLA guidelines, but the formatting did not carry over when I copied and pasted.

The Bible is Not Misogynistic

With the unprecedented event of not just one, but two viable female candidates running for president of the United States, the claims made by feminists that Biblical values are misogynistic and must be discarded are becoming more strident. Conversely, others are trying to use the Bible to claim that a woman is a lesser vessel and is unfit to lead. Neither of these extremes is in fact accurate. In many places in both the Old and New Testaments, the Bible does speak of the woman as holding a special place in the community and in the home. She is to be treated well and with honor. The Biblical standard, when properly interpreted and applied, delineates a woman’s status as help meet and beloved partner, respected community leader and business woman, and teacher and trainer of those younger in the faith in the truths of Scripture.

In Genesis chapters one and two, we have the creation account, with chapter two expanding a bit on the bare bones account given in the previous chapter. In verses 18-24, we see God deciding that it was “not good” (King James Version, Gen. 2:18) for Adam to be alone. To mark to Adam how singular he was amongst all of creation, God brought forth all of the animals and had Adam name them. From them all, even man’s purported ‘best friend’, the dog, not a help ‘meet’ or from the Hebrew “such as was suitable” was found for him (“Help meet”, p. 468). So God created Eve from Adam’s side. The Hebrew reads that Eve was called ‘ishah’, woman, for she was taken from ‘ish’, man (Scofield, Gen 2:23, note f).  Verse 24 speaks of the man and woman joining in marriage to become ‘one flesh’. This is a binding, like the grafting of a bud onto a branch. The word ‘cleave’ has as early as 888 A.D. been used to mean “adhere to, be attached to”, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (p.485). In Ephesians 5:25, 28-29, and 33, the husband is commanded to love his wife as Christ loved the church and as much as he loves his own body. In Colossians 3:19, he is commanded to do this without bitterness.
And what of the husband’s duty? He is to love, and because he loves, not to be harsh or bitter, in word, look, or act. The parallel in Ephesians adds the solemn, elevating thought, that a man’s love to the woman, whom he has made his own, is to be like Christ’s to the Church. Patient and generous, utterly self-forgetting and self-sacrificing, demanding nothing, grudging nothing, giving all, not shrinking from the extreme of suffering and pain and death itself – that he may bless and help – such was the Lord’s love to His bride, such is to be a Christian husband’s love to his wife. That solemn example, which lifts the whole emotion high above mere passion or selfish affection, carries a great lesson too as to the connection between man’s love and woman’s “subjection.” – Expositor’s Bible Commentary
This and other passages do speak of a wife’s submission to her husband’s authority, but it is more submitting to the captain of a team rather than to a slave master. The husband is to be a quarterback, not a dictator.

Of all the women in the Bible that are named as leaders, Deborah the prophetess is the first to spring to mind. She was the third of the ‘judges’ of Israel that led after the passing of Joshua. Deborah’s story is told in Judges chapters four and five. Deborah roused the people of Israel to rebel against Jabin, the King of Hazor, who had oppressed them for twenty years. She called Barak to her palm tree in the desert where people came to hear her judgments and told him to take an army of 10,000 men and attack Jabin’s general, Sisera. Barak refused unless Deborah accompanied his army as well. The Israelites routed Sisera’s iron chariots and Sisera ran. The paean of victory in chapter five gives glory to God and praises Deborah first before giving second billing to Barak, then goes on to credit the actual killing of Sisera to Jael, the woman who drove a tent spike through his head. So much for being unfit to lead. And as for running a business, we see in Proverbs 31, often called the passage describing the ideal woman, whose price is above rubies, the lady is seen buying a plot of land and growing a vineyard (v.16). She makes and sells linen sashes and garments to the merchants in town (v.24). In the New Testament, in Acts 16:14-15 and also verse 40, we see Lydia, a seller of purple, the dye used to make royal garments. She is not listed as the wife or widow of any man, so it is safe to assume she is an independently wealthy business woman with her own household and means of support.

Accepting that with experience comes wisdom, in Titus 2, the older women are exhorted to teach the younger the life skills and deportment that become a godly woman. We see this principle in action in other places as well. In II Timothy 1:5, Paul speaks of Timothy’s mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois, giving him instruction in the faith from childhood. In Acts 18:24-26, Priscilla, with her husband, Aquila, after she heard Apollos preach in the temple about the ministry of John the Baptist in proclaiming the coming of the Messiah and the need to repent, took him home with her to “expound unto him the way of God more perfectly.” The couple are also mentioned in I Corinthians 16:19. Paul lists other women as church leaders who ministered to the saints, such as Phebe from the church at Cenchrea (Romans 16:1) and Mary, Tryphena, and Tryphosa at the church there in Rome (Romans 16:6,12).  It should be noted, in I Timothy 2:11, when Paul speaks of a “woman sitting in silence”, he is addressing the specific situation there at Ephesus. The converts there were new in the faith. In context, Paul had just been addressing proper modesty and behavior. The Greek word used, “hesuchia” literally means “in stillness, desisting from bustle or language” (“Hesuchia”, Greek); also “quietness; description of the life of one who stays at home doing his work, and does not officiously meddle in the affairs of others” (“Hesuchia”, Thayer’s). In other words, no hysterical outcries or goings on during the teaching or reading of the Word, maintaining composure, not gossiping. The Bible tells Christians we are at war against “principalities and powers”. How else is one supposed to receive battle instruction?

So one can see, when properly understood, the Bible is not a misogynistic treatise. In the Judeo-Christian ethic, a woman is a life partner, designed by God for mutual support and comfort; a community leader and active in business to support herself and her family; and a teacher of those less experienced in the faith to bring them to a greater understanding of the truths of God’s Word. So those who decry the Bible as anti-woman as well as those who try to twist it to suppress women into slavishly subservient roles are equally mistaken. The Bible teaches that a woman can stand shoulder to shoulder with her brothers in battle, with a different role sometimes, but equal before God.

 

Works Cited

“Cleave.” The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford, Oxford University Press: 1981.

“Colossians 3:19.” Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Web. October 10, 2015.

“Help meet.” Unger’s Bible Dictionary. Ed. Merrill F. Unger. Chicago, Moody Press: 1981.

“Hesuchia.” Greek Lexicon. Web. October 11, 2015.

“Hesuchia.” Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon. Web. October 11, 2015.

The New Scofield Reference Bible, Authorized King James Version. Ed. C.I. Scofield. New York, Oxford University Press: 1967.

 ________________________________________________

Grading was a peer review. The class, being online, had over 5,ooo possible reviewers, approximately 85% of them ESL. Below are their scores and comments. Only the peer scores counted toward my grade.

THESIS         

OVERALL GRADE        8       OUT OF              10 POINTS

(The options were: “None” = 0; “Weak” = 5; “Strong” = 10)

  • ASSESSOR: PEER 1

Peer’s Assessment: There is a weak one. 

GRADE EARNED:5 POINTS

  • ASSESSOR: PEER 2

Peer’s Assessment: Strong thesis 

GRADE EARNED:10 POINTS

  • YOUR SELF ASSESSMENT

Your Assessment: Strong thesis 

Additional Comments (3)

  • PEER 1

To disprove a point some examples are not enough, you must take also counterexamples (there are many in the bible) and show they are a minority. Aren’t them?

  • PEER 2

This topic is difficult but interesting, I think with these issues can be many discussions but generally good. Congratulations

  • YOUR ASSESSMENT

The thesis states clearly what the essay is about and what points are to be addressed.

CONTENT

OVERALL GRADE                  5              OUT OF                      10 POINTS

(Options were: “Poor, (Difficult to read, boring)” = 0; “Fair” = 5; “Really Interesting” = 10) No comment section was given.

  • ASSESSOR:  PEER 1

Peer’s Assessment: Fair 

GRADE EARNED: 5 POINTS

  • ASSESSOR: PEER 2

Peer’s Assessment: Fair 

GRADE EARNED: 5 POINTS

  • YOUR SELF ASSESSMENT

Your Assessment: Really interesting! 

GRAMMAR AND WRITING

OVERALL GRADE                      5           OUT OF                  5 POINTS

(Options were: “Poor” = 1; “Fair” = 3; “Good” = 5)

  • ASSESSOR: PEER 1

Peer’s Assessment: Good 

GRADE EARNED: 5 POINTS

  • ASSESSOR: PEER 2

Peer’s Assessment: Good 

GRADE EARNED: 5 POINTS

  • YOUR SELF ASSESSMENT

Your Assessment: Good 

  • Additional Comments (3)

PEER 1

Good work, maybe too much emphasis on looking for examples of good words about women. One can say you’re beautiful to his wife and still beat her…

PEER 2

I do not know much about the Bible and I find it interesting to see how people interpret a book with a lot of power in humanity.

  • YOUR ASSESSMENT

The paper was well-structured and edited carefully.

Short Story: The Mirror Man by Andrija Popovic

The Mirror Man
by Andrija Popovic

Camille knew the moment she picked up the package a Mirror Man would hunt her. They infested the shopping districts. Shoulder forward, she pushed down the crowded street. The consumers parted around her. Focused on their personal networks and visual clutter editors, their early warning systems guided them away from collisions.

No one could see her. She was a blocked object. No one saw the dirt on her boots, or the cracks in her third-hand leather jacket, or the ribbons on her dreadlocks. No one saw the personal network contacts in her eyes flashing red every two seconds.

System failure. Illegal override. Software jailbreak.

The street narrowed into a close alley, dotted with restaurants. Normal eyes would see virtual facades and flashing advertisements enticing her to eat. Jailbroken eyes saw plain signposts with chirping VQR codes embedded in the text.

She grabbed onto a wall, scanning the crowd behind her. Winter air clawed at her throat. No sign of them in the alley, or in the crowd.

“Spare some ‘coin?” Camille nearly shat herself. The old man appeared from under a veil of discarded moving rugs. No one else saw him. Their personal content editors were set to remove upsetting items: Homeless folks, signs of decay, professionals with dark skin or foreign accents – anything and everything which would upset the user.

Which means no one saw the Mirror Men.

“I’m sorry.” She panted between words. “Listen, please, you’ve got to run. Bad things are coming.”

“What? Police don’t bother me.” The old man caught her eyes. When they flashed red, he shuddered and pulled away. “Oh no. Stay away from me! They’re coming for you. I want no part of what you did!”

“OK, I’ll go…” Camille couldn’t blame him. She started down the alley, boots sliding through the wet muck lining the street. She skidded to a halt, grabbing onto a handrail, and hid behind a dumpster.

A figure appeared at the alley’s entrance.

“That’s it. Follow me. Ignore everything else. It’s me you want.” Camille’s breath clung to the dumpster’s metal.

The Mirror Man paused at the alley’s entrance. A featureless chrome mask covered his face. He wore a tan overcoat programmed to fit his body. Black hands, the color of molten rubber, jutted from his sleeves. He walked down the alley, as slow and deliberate as a lava flow.

The homeless man cowered in his corner and piled blankets over his head.

The mirrored face turned. “Hello.” The Mirror Man’s voice was pleasant and plain, like an automated map voice. “You are not registered on the local network. But I’m detecting a personal network signature. This is illegal. Can you afford to pay for the privilege?”

“Oh, God…” The man cried, dragging fingers through his scraggly hair. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I just – I couldn’t get food if I didn’t have it. They won’t see you otherwise!”

“We understand, but that is no excuse.” The Mirror Man raised his hand. His fingers bent back, cracking, and his palm split open. “I have to deactivate you. I’m sorry.”

“No!” Camille yelled, dragging a burner from her coat, but it was too late. A white-hot beam poured from the Mirror Man’s palm. Where it hit the homeless man, clothes caught fire and flesh cooked in an instant. A few passes of the beam left a burning heap of clothes and charred meat. Screams echoed through the alley, but no one noticed. Everyone kept walking, their personal networks tuning out the unpleasantness.

“Oi! Chromehead! Over here!” Camille shot the Mirror Man. The burner beam caught on his jacket. Smoke bloomed from his collar and covered his mask.

The Mirror Man raised his hand. A pillar of flame spilled out and slammed into the dumpster. Her cover squealed in protest, yelling out for assistance from the nearest drone. Camille rolled to the side, hand shaking. She fired another blast. Black smoke billowed from the Mirror Man’s legs.

“Please stop.” The Mirror Man continued on down the alley. “You are currently in violation of several intellectual property laws, including unauthorized use of personal and interpersonal networks. You have also assaulted an intellectual property and network payment enforcement officer -”

“I’ll stop.” Camille grabbed the biter attachment from her coat. She snapped it onto her burner gun. The muzzle closed off, growing a claw. She fired the biter at the Mirror Man. It grabbed his coat and dug in, claw tearing at the charred fabric. The biter threw electric blue arcs at the Mirror Man’s mask.

“Help! Help! Help!” The Mirror Man collapsed. His legs kicked. The muck spilling from the dissolved dumpster soiled his coat. Camille ran up. Tucking the burner away, she pulled a knife free and triggered the blade. It snaked into the Mirror Man, finding his spinal cord and cutting it.

“I’m sorry.” She pulled the contacts from her eyes and dropped them into her Faraday case, next to the housing for the burner and the biter. The signal vanished. The alert stopped. The Mirror Man jerked and gurgled. His coat fell away, released from its owner, revealing a cheap suit underneath. She felt around his ear and found the catch for his mask. It came away with a pop, like a vacuum-sealed can opening.

The Mirror Man gasped. His face was thin and papery, like the surface of a wasp’s nest, but his eyes were bright, sharp, and clear. They were Camille’s color, too. She activated the knife. The blade snaked up along the right eye, under the eyelid, until the eye came free with a wet squelch.

“One down, one to go.”

* * *

Camille walked the streets. Her signal was clear and free. The overlays allowed her to dig under advertisements, to see which “independently funded study” was actually purchased by one or more conglomerates. She could dig into the displays of any shopper around her, reading their lives, even activating or deactivating their personal editors at will.

Her eyes still itched. It would take a few days for them to settle. Even after a thorough hardware and software cleansing, they still reminded her that Camille’s eyes, version one, were in cold storage.

The mask did not itch. She barely felt it. It tucked underneath her hat and easily merged with the reprogrammed tan coat. When she walked down the street, no one saw her, but everyone avoided her. She was a rock in the stream.

One of the Mirror Men approached. It flashed a simple signal, indicating its patrol route and any updates. She flashed a quick signal in response. Her stolen patrol route, often ignored but still active and logged in the enforcement system, appeared on the master map. She raised her hand, but the Mirror Man ignored her, returning to its route.

She walked past one of the VQR codes. It buzzed in her ear. A whirlpool of static danced around the code. Camille inverted her view, and the static cleared. A small red box, paint peeling in long strips of rust, hid under the static. Camille opened the box and returned the package: the burner, the knife, and the contacts. Closing the door, she placed a strip of black tape across the broken lock.

“For the next one.”

Camille turned and faced another Mirror Man.

She wore a simple brown cloak, with a raised hood, and a dented mirror mask. After a moment, the Mirror Man raised her hand. The black-gloved fingers curled and tightened into a fist. “Are you awake?”

Then Camille raised her own black-gloved hand. She raised it high until it reflected in her mirror mask, and she made a fist. “I’m awake and I can see.”

They nodded, lowered their fists, and moved into the anonymous rush of the crowd. As far as the tracking systems could tell, nothing had changed. Shoppers happily consumed. Poorer residents shied away from the Mirror Men, keeping the shopping district clear of undesirables.

Except for one. A dark-skinned lady with slim eyes stopped by the VQR code in Camille’s view. She picked up the kit, stashed it under her jacket and ran down the crowded street. Shoppers moved out of the way.

Camille allowed herself a laugh. No-one ever saw the Mirror Men. Everyone edited them from their feeds, happy they could afford good bandwidth and advert-free content. So no-one, not even the Mirror Men, would see the revolution coming.