Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gas, Food and Loading

I'm sure most of us have seen those signs on the highway that read, "Gas, Food and Loading." I love travelling on long trips by car, and I notice things along the highway, including those "gas, food and loading" signs. They're not as common in the middle of the most populated metro areas, as most exits have desired services of motorists, but on the outskirts of town or on the open highway, the "gas, food and loading" signs tell motorists that this next exit has the basic necessities of road trip travel. I've noticed the "gas, food and loading" signs ever since I was old enough to read as a small child. I've seen a million "gas, food and loading" signs and continue to notice them every time I travel.

Quite often, the "gas, food and loading" signs are accompanied by icons of a knife and fork or a gas pump to illustrate to the [supposed illiterate or foreigner] traveler what he can expect at the next exit. I've taken advantage of the "gas, food and loading" signs many times in finding what I need while travelling.

I always wondered what the term "loading" meant on the signs, as I knew what gas and food were. I assumed that those people on the road needed some kind of supplies to continue on their trip, so they would need to "load" supplies in their car. But, whatever needed to be loaded, the next exit was sure to have it.

One day in my mid-thirties I was driving down the highway and saw a "gas, food and loading" sign. Except, I wasn't paying attention to the sign; it just appeared in my vision; I didn't consciously read the sign. Because of this I mis-read the sign. This particular sign didn't say, "gas, food and loading", rather it said, "gas, food and lodging." I did a double take, a triple take, and a long stunned focus. I was absolutely floored at what I read. It took a while, but I realized that I had not mis-read this sign, but I had mis-read all of the previous signs my whole life. The first time I ever read the sign when I was a small child I read it incorrectly, and it stuck with me the rest of my life. Or until my mid-thirties at least. Then I realized what the meaning of this was. The word "loading" wasn't there, as in needing to load up on supplies, but the word "lodging" was there, meaning that there were places to stay the night. It all came clear to me.

I am firmly convinced that most of us read the bible the same way. The first time we read something - or have something explained to us by somebody else - we often get the wrong read, and it continues with us a long time, maybe the rest of our lives. We re-read the same error over and over, convincing ourselves that the error is true, making it all the harder to discover any error at all. Sometimes, God has mercy and reveals the real truth to us. I hope you find the same.

Originally posted 06/08 and 12/09.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Elder Rule and Control vs. Example

One time I was talking with a church elder about certain matters, and he described to me his function within his church.  He told me about the measures he took in "overseeing" all the activities there.  He and the other elders interjected themselves in the lives of other people when they saw something they didn't think was right.  They took painstaking steps to keep a tight watch on all that was being taught there, and he had a herculean task in protecting all the church people in deciding what literature and ideas they were exposed to, and what avenues were appropriate for the people discussing God's word.  It was like a large censorship committee.

I think this man may have been trying to impress me somewhat with just how time consuming and grave a matter it was in being an elder.  But as his descriptions of his duties unfolded, I was struck with just how much it sounded like he and his peers were trying to control the church.  His job wasn't so much about shepherding the sheep and endeavoring to bring God's people to maturity in Christ.  It was about preventive damage control.  It was more about making sure the electric fence had enough zap in it so that no sheep would escape and stray than it was about feeding and watering and leading.  My suggestion that elders that had such a grip on their church were practicing overlording rather than leading by example didn't sit well with this man.

I knew he learned all his leadership ideas from well practiced systems that other men had widely taught.  It was clear to me that people who thought for themselves and tried to make a difference with their own faith might have a problem under these men's watchful eyes.  But where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  Too bad men like this are so suspicious of other Christians that they feel the need to control them.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Night Potpourri

Another week, supposedly short:

  • Many of the red trees are thinning out due to leaf loss.
  • There's a maple over our back fence that makes the carpet look red because of the light coming in the window.
  • I had class the night before Thanksgiving.  It was supposed to go until 10pm, but we were let out early.  It's a good thing we got all our food shopping done.
  • A good way to save a few bucks is to get the next largest can for garbage service.  Although, the next one down is 2/3 the size.
  • I've been wondering whether I should learn HTML.
  • Got a rash of 800 calls this week.  I don't know what any of them are about, as I keep hanging up.
  • The power, the passion, the sound.  One of my all-time favorites.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Overlording: Usurping God Himself

In reply to the mother of the sons of Zebedee, who wanted her precious two to have political power in Jesus' kingdom, Jesus gives a lesson for all his followers:

You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. Matthew 20:25-28

Sin is often described as rebellion against God, or to think that one's self is God in place of God. The self gets to determine what's right and wrong. One major problem with sin is that in order to be God, one necessarily must lord it over God's creatures. God is sovereign over his creation, and man asserts his sovereignty over God's creation in sin. A logical result of this is to lord it over other people. This is why Jesus points out how the Gentiles' systems of government include overlording.

In the ancient world, kings asserted themselves as deity and were worshipped as deity. Today it's the same, with variations on forms of government. But lording it over others is not part of Jesus' plan. His solution, as he exemplified it himself here on earth as a man, is to serve instead of to rule over. This applies to both politics and religion.

Israel's cry to God for a king like the other nations meant they wanted to worship man and to have man in control. They wanted to usurp God. Saul was the sad result. Today, we want the rule of man over man with our systems of government, both in church and state. And it isn't Christian. Jesus said so.
*28 - originally posted 01-28-10

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Night Potpourri

I almost forgot about Friday Night Potpourri:

  • While running my usual errands, there's a street in an upper-yuppie nimby neighborhood with a permanent radar speed readout on a pole.  It looks solar powered, and it clocks every car that goes by.  Only one problem.  It is deceptive.  For each car that passes, the first reading is a minimum of 5 mph higher than the true speed.  Only then does it lower its reading to what you're actually going.  I wonder how many people have been duped?  I also wonder if it's not creating a danger in giving a false reading because the natural tendency once I learn that I'm "speeding" is to take my eyes off the road and look at my speedometer to figure out how I got to going so fast.
  • It's raining outside.  Or was.  Supposed to be a big storm this weekend.  I feel like I should water the lawn like I normally do.
  • When our three year old falls asleep in the car on the way home from somewhere, I back into the driveway, open the garage door, and back slightly in.  Then it's easy to just let him nap in the car.
  • There are big trucks on the road now.  A few weeks and months ago it was bright colored Mustangs.  I wonder if our youngest is changing.
  • I've got to bring a water sample to class tomorrow for lab testing.  I'm wondering how dirty creek water will do.  Or maybe it would be good to test our own tap water for sodium and conductivity.
  • A big hawk landed on our back fence yesterday.  I ran and got the camera.  I was only 15 feet from it, but it didn't seem to care.  It swooped down, snatched a mouse, then flew across the yard and pulled up just over the fence out into the creek.  How cool was that?
  • Bummer of a theme, but a really upbeat song from the late 70's.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Indoctrination vs. Teaching

Lewis Wells at Commandments of Men shows the difference between teaching and indoctrination, and shows how he sees it fleshing itself out in the environment of patriarchy.  Read his post here.  Although he specifically ties this difference to patriarchy, the definitions fit for almost any type of belief system.  Aberrant views can be indoctrinated, but truthful ones can be as well.  One can be a mindless fundamentalist with the truth.

Wells explains that proper teaching leads one to have one's own moral compass, and gives one the ability to discern.  A good compass in determining whether instruction is one or the other is in how those that do the teaching deal with the conclusions of the taught.  If they are open to differing viewpoints of those they teach, there is a greater likelihood that they truly wanted to teach rather than indoctrinate.  I've had numerous situations in my Christian experience where I've come to different conclusions than those that taught me.  Their reactions to my ideas have been fairly telltale as to what kind of teachers they were.

Good teaching also helps to avoid being intimidated by teachers who think they know the truth in an absolute sense.  One thing I've noticed about teaching is that the humility level of the teacher is quite contagious.

Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.  James 3:1

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Night Porpourri

A week in the routinely unroutine:

  • Twilight Zone:  Just Tuesday night in my class - I'm learning operations at industrial plants like refineries, this is my second of three semesters in a career change attempt - we learned about the flare systems in industrial plants, how power outages affect oil refineries, what happens, all about those huge flares that burn up in the air, about the smoke, about the flames, environmental hazards, and how the media covers such incidents.
  • Wednesday night, on my way to my other class, a nearby refinery had a power outage, and had huge flare fires that sent smoke into the air for miles.  Our vicinity had an emergency warning over TV and radio, and Mrs. Scott brought the kids indoors, etc., for possible affects of the release.
  • My Tuesday/Thursday instructor works at that refinery.  Class was cancelled on Thursday, as he was working overtime dealing with the incident that shut down the refinery.  This is bizarre.  We had an object lesson about that very thing the next night at his refinery.  Is Rod Serling still alive?
  • My folks' neighbor sodded his yard and had some rolls left over.  Patch time!
  • Yesterday was my tenth wedding anniversary.  My cancelled class allowed me to be with Mrs. Scott at home.
  • It's football weather, and the kids have taken to playing in the street.  Just like when I was a kid.  It was great to be out there.
  • It was model airplane building week around here.  Mmmm, the smell of glue, model paint and paint thinner.
  • A classic from the 80's, for which Mrs. Scott has a fondness.  Happy anniversary!

Sputtering Along Blog

My blogging on theology here has been sputtering along for quite a few months.  My mind has simply not been engaged in writing about the normal stuff.  I'm wondering if I've run out of things to say on most of the topics I had been writing about.  Or, are things changing?  I've been busy with school and life, so the thinking time necessary has changed.  I still have passion in thinking about most of what makes From the Pew what it is.  It's just not focused on writing.

I have been meaning to rehash and rework some of my old blog series on church membership, Romans 13, etc., and was intending to write some sort of commentary/review on Michael Spencer's Mere Churchianity and John Armstrong's Your Church Is Too Small.  I still hope to get to these books on this blog.  It seems that my Friday Night Potpourri is the most steady of this blog these days.  I have some newer ideas to write about, but I need to figure out an appropriate format and develop the content, which could be a bit touchy.  Whatever the case, I still desire to blog about theology here and challenge the status quo of conservative religious ideology.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Any Exerience with Unitarians?

I've had some dialog with somebody who has a small gathering of people (churchish), most of whom seem to be unitarians.  There is the belief that God is one person (unitarian), not three persons in one godhead (trinitarian).  They believe Jesus was a created being.  Apparently they are not also universalists.

Does anybody have any experience with unitarians?  Any special behaviors, or logical conclusions to unitarianism that are odd?  What is/was the fellowship like?  I know how to deal with it from a point of doctrine, I'm just looking for any others out there who have some history with the beliefs.  I know that trinitarians are not always - nor maybe even most of the time - consistent in their trinitarianism.  They don't follow trinitarianism through to practical conclusions.  I'm just wondering if the same thing exists with regard to unitarians.  Thanks for any help.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Friday Night Potpourri

The best week of my sports life:

  • When something completely unbelievable and almost unthinkable happens, and when that thing is a very good thing, it tends to make a person look at everything else a bit differently.
  • It doesn't often happen, but I lost my voice this week.
  • I opened my closet door, and there were no skeletons.  Does this mean that there never will be skeletons again?
  • When the line for train tickets is two hours long, it's really nice to know that the grocery store next door to the train station sells discounted train tickets.  The wait was only five minutes.
  • My previous record for the largest crowd I've ever been in was about 72,000 - at a baseball game in Denver at Mile High Stadium.  This Wednesday, that number shot up to 1 million, as I attended the Giants victory parade.
  • I couldn't help but notice that many of the trees that change with vibrant colors - usually from green through red or plum - have orange leaves right now.
  • This song was a big 70's radio hit, and has been with us ever since, and I think due to the nature of this song, it will be around for a long time.

Harold Camping and the Eternal World Champions

Well, thanks to all the calculations and other figurings by Harold Camping, who discovered that the world will end next year.  You can see his prediction here.  Now, with the world ending next year, that means that this was the last baseball World Series ever played.  My San Francisco Giants will be ETERNAL World Champions!!!  Now, how awesome is that?  I can't wait for heaven.

Monday, November 01, 2010