Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

Random stuff from the past week or so, if I remember it correctly, plus a new feature:

  • My fender bender took a bit of chaos to get fixed. An estimate plus several days in the shop, plus renting a car. Despite me being the one in the accident and having my name on both vehicle registrations, because Mrs. Scott and I switched to the same insurance company, and just because she was the one whose name was entered first into the account by the rep, she got all the calls from the other insurance company, body shop, rental car agency, followups, etc.
  • The body shop had a guy there named Steve Scott. There were other eerie similarities between my hometown and his mother, so that the woman I talked to at the body shop thought it might have been a practical joke. It was good fun.
  • Is Barack Obama the anti-christ? Some folks believe so. In a widely linked YouTube clip, a voice describes using Christ's words from our English bibles, which is translated from the Greek, which if spoken in the Aramaic that Jesus would have understood, Jesus referencing Old Testament bible verses describing something that indicates Satan falling down from heaven, putting two modern English pronunciations of ancient Hebrew words together, the sounds are similar to something that may be pronounced "Barack" and "Obama." I'm not sure how Satan falling from heaven translates into the anti-christ, but evidently sound similarities of word associations in different languages separated by thousands of years proves who the anti-christ is. They've tried this with a word "Rosh" in the Old Testament to show that "Russia" will invade Israel. Too bad one must know modern English to figure this out, as any other language in the world won't reveal the same result. Just gotta love this method of bible translation.
  • I'm currently reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
  • Interesting post on Michael Vick and forgiveness here.
  • Here's the new feature on Friday Night Potpourri. I'll be including a link to a favorite song from my childhood, heard on the radio, or to other important music in my past. Most of these songs I've found on YouTube. They don't always fit my genre preferences, but were important at the time nonetheless. They bring back great memories. I'll also refrain from giving the song title so it will be a pleasant (or otherwise) surprise to you. Take a chance and click through to this song I loved to hear on the radio in junior high. Good night.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Individualism As By-Product Of Communalism

One of the things often preached against in today's culture, from many sources, is the ism known as individualism. While it is true that many people today are so concerned about themselves as individuals, that they would put the concerns of the individual above the concerns of community, there is also the reality that many put the concerns of the community above the legitimate concerns of the individual. Enough so that many of the concerns of the individual can be labeled as individualism, or even radical individualism. Putting the concerns of the community above the concern of individual can be called communalism.

Often this communalism can identify individuals that don't fit in, i.e. misfits, loners or those who simply don't identify with some of the beliefs of the community, and incorrectly name them as individualists. This can occur when somebody doesn't agree with the particular form of church government, or of specific doctrines that are hashed out differently in different traditions.

I've heard the charge against Martin Luther, for example, that he was guilty of individualism. But Luther wasn't somebody who wanted to leave the church, or who made the claim that he had no need for church. He wanted the church to come to a better understanding of what he thought the truth was. That he placed an importance on the individual that was not previously granted by the church does not mean that he believed in individualism over and above the community. The opposite extreme of communalism may have been the cause of the charge.

If a community adds rules or regulations that are not warranted by an orthodox understanding of the faith, and is willing to exclude or minimize those individuals who fail to come to the same understanding - even through no fault of their own - it may just be that the community has its own ism to deal with. So, a labeled individualism may in reality be communalism run amok. When understandings of a certain type are widespread just because most people believe in them, those who are on the fringes are often without a solution. Communalism is just as dangerous, if not more so, than individualism. A lone individual can fade out as irrelevant and might have no affect on others, but a community that forces its not-so-correct beliefs on everybody might do harm to many more individuals.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cooperstown, Steroids and Bill James

Baseball stats entrepreneur Bill James, famous for his invention of new statistics and his ability to judge player ability based on those stats, has at long last commented on how steroids in baseball relates to the Hall of Fame. Read the four page .pdf file here. He believes that as we progress into the future, steroids will become a non-issue with respect to the Hall of Fame. He makes five basic arguments, in essence:

  1. 1) Steroids essentially keep us young. Many people outside of sports are taking these, and most people in the future will be doing so as well as life-lengthening drugs evolve. With society using them, they will look back on our time and wonder what the fuss was all about. The steroids users of today will be looked at as pioneers of a better life.
  2. 2) Some players who used steroids will make the Hall. Once these are discovered, an argument will arise to let the others in as well who were shunned.
  3. 3) History is forgiving, and statistics endure. He uses arguments from other players' faults and how they are viewed over time.
  4. 4) Old players play a large part in the Hall of Fame debate. They will not likely divide their ex-teammates into "users" and "non-users."
  5. 5) For the longest time there were no baseball rules against steroids, if there were they weren't enforced, and with a majority of players using them, was it really "cheating"? How then could players be kept out? And a great quote: "With the passage of time, more people will come to understand that the commissioner’s periodic spasms of self-righteousness do not constitute baseball law."
I agree with his assessment and have held many of these sentiments for a while now. James doesn't say all of these things by moral conviction, necessarily, but by how the future will shape the argument as time passes.

In addition to what James contends about baseball's Hall of Fame, I think the same thing will occur with respect to the use of these types of drugs, whether by athletes or not, and the decriminalization of drugs will follow.

Another thing I think should be debated. If a majority of players were taking steroids, who had any advantage over who? Who had the advantage when Bonds went to bat against Clemens? If pitchers were using steroids to be better pitchers, why did offensive statistics increase during the "steroids era?" Could the statistical change be due to other factors? With the Manny Ramirez issue [Updated 07-30-09: David Ortiz was also named today], it is clear that performance enhancing drugs are still widespread, especially the ones undetectable by currently enforced urine tests.

Give the article a read. I think James has enough influence on baseball that the debate will change as a result.

This is cross-posted at my From the Bleachers baseball blog.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri A Day Late

Random thoughts a day late:

  • We heard rain in the kitchen the other night. The dishwasher was on. We ran, to find out that the entire counter was covered in water to the depth of the bullnosing, and water falling over the edge. It was coming from the drain vent in the back of the sink. After taking it apart, we found that a grape was tossed by the garbage disposal blades into the dishwasher drain opening and was stuck there. The size of the grape matched the opening exactly. The drain water was forced up and out the vent, which was pointing back to the counter and not into the sink. One in a million.
  • Six degrees of connectedness. I had lunch today with somebody I met on Facebook. We had seven mutual friends, some from other parts of the country, most of whom have no connections to each other. That we could all know the same unconnected people is bizarre. Most of them we each knew in different ways. We had a lot in common, too. We started out our conversation with, "How in the world do you know all these same people?"
  • Rickey Henderson will be enshrined into baseball's Hall of Fame this weekend. He is one of the all time greats, and I got to witness his entire career, most of it from the front row of the left field bleachers in Oakland. We loved him, and he loved us back. Simply amazing.
  • I took my three sons for a walk around the block tonight with flashlights, the first time with our two year old. Way too funny.
  • I was in Berkeley, CA today for a few hours. It's still a pretty strange place, but it has mellowed over the years from the 60's-80's wackiness. I went to school there in the early 80's when Reagan was in office. Constant cultural entertainment if nothing else.
  • Moe's Books in Berkeley has a good selection of theology books. Check them out sometime.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

Random mush before midnight:

  • Got into a fender bender this week while picking up my son from summer school in the school parking lot. Somebody backed into me, denting my bumper and breaking the headlight. I was able to describe the accident to their insurance company from 3,000 miles away while we both had Google Satellite open. That really helped. Now for the estimate, body shop and rental car. Grrrrr.
  • It's been 100 degrees here all week amid a very mild summer. We live close to the water so it's a bit cooler here than in central county.
  • A friend from here who has been living in Texas for a few years is visiting another friend who lives in San Francisco. He's complaining on Facebook about the 59 degree weather there being too cold. We'll be right over...
  • I've noticed a drastic drop in yellow jacket population here in California over the last few years. I hate those things; they are evil. A bee-keeper friend says they're not native and we should eliminate them at every opportunity. I'd love to see them gone.
  • We're black thumbs here. We killed the back lawn, the front porch plant, the way back yard, and the front lawn is mostly yellow. We've killed a few of our kids' take-home plant projects. The front porch plant was easy, dumping the dried contents into the greens can and the plastic pot into the recycle.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Size Matters, Church Wise

Michael Bell, occasional contributor to the Internet Monk blog, has a fascinating statistical analysis of church sizes. Be prepared to do the math. It's worth the read.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

Junk and stuff for a Friday night with good weather:

  • I watched Johnathan Sanchez of the San Francisco Giants pitch a no-hitter on TV tonight. I had a ticket for last night, and my family has tickets for tomorrow night. Not the best part of a sandwich to not eat. Congratulations anyway!
  • I had a business call with somebody from North Carolina tonight. He asked about our rainfall here in California. Uhhhm, we don't have any from May to October, I told him. Or very little. He said he visited the East Bay (Oakland area) several years ago, and it was cold, so he had to wear a jacket in summer. Uh, yes to that, too. Living here is weird because San Francisco is famous for its fog and cold evenings, yet California is famous for sunshine and hot weather. Outsiders can't figure it out.
  • I understand that it was the 500th birthday of John Calvin. I'm unemployed so I can't even afford that many candles.
  • I've written several posts on this blog about the dog doo on my front lawn. I figured out it's really cats.
  • Do a Google Maps view of your neighborhood, then type in "church" in the search box. Interesting.
  • For Father's Day I recieved some CD's: Foreigner's Double Vision, The Who's The Who By Numbers and UFO's Strangers In The Night. Excellent all.
  • More pages are falling out of my bible than ever. I've had it for almost 30 years. Time for a new one?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Blogroll Disclaimer

Blogroll Disclaimer:

All the sites that are linked to in my right margin under the various links windows like "Tried and True," "Notable and of Interest" and the others are there because I want them to be there. They don't necessarily reflect my views or opinions, but then of course I give you as my readers the intellectual credit for already knowing that. I don't often receive guilt-by-association accusations from my readers, and unless I get really big like iMonk or Team Pyro, I don't expect that to start soon. Some of those linked I agree with to a good degree, some I used to agree with them but no longer do. Some of them I even have there as somebody I disagree with that I like to write about disagreeing with them. A few I no longer read but am too lazy to delete the link.  And a few more I don't read at all but put them there because you might like to read them.

Blogroll Disclaimer Disclaimer:

The fact that I have a blogroll disclaimer in no way as much as implies that I need a blogroll disclaimer. I have one simply because I sat down in my chair I got from a Home Express closeout sale - one with a cheap yellow cushion - and wrote it. In an effort to keep from writing a blogroll disclaimer disclaimer disclaimer, I simply note that bandwidth and time considerations are helpful in avoiding this. Please read my blog often, and if you want to send money, please email me first. If you give enough, I might add a PayPal widget or something. Thank you.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Infantile Trust In God

Occasionally I hear trust in God compared to an infant who is in complete reliance upon its caretaker. An infant cannot do anything for itself, but receives everything from others. This trust, though, is completely passive. Is this real faith?

I've also heard numerous times within Protestantism that failure to "pray without ceasing", as in every minute of the day, or failure to be continually in a state of giving thanks is tantamount to practical atheism.

What, then, could be said about an infantile trust? Can there be anything said for a passive, non-conscious, non-active trust in God? When we seem to have no faith, is there a faith behind the faith? If yesterday I trusted God for salvation in an eternal sense, yet go most of today without even thinking about God, could I not realize tomorrow that even my inaction is a form of faith? After all, yesterday I trusted that I would still have faith tomorrow. And I found that yesterday's faith carried me through today.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Hypocrisy and Self-Control

Do you use words that you don't allow your kids to use? Do you drink, but not allow your kids to do the same? Any number of other things? Are you a hypocrite for such double standards? I occasionally hear this from people.

But this is not necessarily hypocrisy. I drive a car, but don't let my kids do the same. I use power tools, knives, chemicals, etc. I also use words that my kids can't. It's not hypocrisy when the use of things have to do with the varied levels of self-control possessed by the different people in view. There are certain words I don't let my kids use, not because the words are bad in and of themselves, but because of kids' tendencies to abuse them. I know a number of families that shun their kids' use of words like "stupid," "hate," "idiot" and others like them. Most often it seems, the kids use them to attack other people (i.e. "you're so stupid!"), whereas adults tend to use them more appropriately (i.e. "I did stupid things when I was younger.") Some words and acts require a great deal of tact and self-control in using them, and exercising self-control in the right situation is hardly wrong.