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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Excerpts from Orthodoxy, by Gilbert K. Chesterton, 25

It is commonly the loose and latitudinarian Christians who pay quite indefensible compliments to Christianity. They talk as if there had never been any piety or pity until Christianity came, a point on which any medieval would have been eager to correct them. They represent that the remarkable thing about Christianity was that it was the first to preach simplicity or self-restraint, or inwardness and sincerity. They will think me very narrow (whatever that means) if I say that the remarkable thing about Christianity was that it was the first to preach Christianity. Its peculiarity was that it was peculiar, and simplicity and sincerity are not peculiar, but obvious ideals for all mankind. Christianity was the answer to a riddle, not the last truism uttered after a long talk. Only the other day I saw in an excellent weekly paper of Puritan tone this remark, that Christianity when stripped of its armour of dogma (as who should speak of a man stripped of his armour of bones), turned out to be nothing but the Quaker doctrine of the Inner Light. Now, if I were to say that Christianity came into the world specially to destroy the doctrine of the Inner Light, that would be an exaggeration. But it would be very much nearer to the truth. The last Stoics, like Marcus Aurelius, were exactly the people who did believe in the Inner Light. Their dignity, their weariness, their sad external care for others, their in curable internal care for themselves, were all due to the Inner Light, and existed only by that dismal illumination. Notice that Marcus Aurelius insists, as such introspective moralists always do, upon small things done or undone; it is because he has not hate or love enough to make a moral revolution. He gets up early in the morning, just as our own aristocrats living the Simple Life get up early in the morning; because such altruism is much easier than stopping the games of the amphitheatre or giving the English people back their land. Marcus Aurelius is the most intolerable of human types. He is an unselfish egoist. An unselfish egoist is a man who has pride without the excuse of passion. Of all conceivable forms of enlightenment the worst is what these people call the Inner Light. Of all horrible religions the most horrible is the worship of the god within. Any one who knows any body knows how it would work; any one who knows any one from the Higher Thought Centre knows how it does work. That Jones shall worship the god within him turns out ultimately to mean that Jones shall worship Jones. Let Jones worship the sun or moon, anything rather than the Inner Light; let Jones worship cats or crocodiles, if he can find any in his street, but not the god within. Christianity came into the world firstly in order to assert with violence that a man had not only to look inwards, but to look outwards, to behold with astonishment and enthusiasm a divine company and a divine captain.

Orthodoxy, first published in 1908, by G. K. Chesterton, is in the public domain, and available from Project Gutenberg. The previous post in this series is here. Thanks for reading! Read Chesterton.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Farewell speeches from Bible characters

The last words of  Jacob -- Genesis 49:1 Jacob called to his sons, and said: “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which will happen to you in the days to come.
2 Assemble yourselves, and hear, you sons of Jacob.
Listen to Israel, your father. ...
8 “Judah, your brothers will praise you.
Your hand will be on the neck of your enemies.
Your father’s sons will bow down before you.
10a The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he comes to whom it belongs. ...
28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father spoke to them, and blessed them. He blessed everyone according to his own blessing. 29 He instructed them, and said to them, “I am to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite as a burial place. 31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah, his wife. There they buried Isaac and Rebekah, his wife, and there I buried Leah: 32 the field and the cave that is therein, which was purchased from the children of Heth.” 33 When Jacob finished charging his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, breathed his last breath, and was gathered to his people.

Joseph: Genesis 50:24 Joseph said to his brothers*, “I am dying, but God will surely visit you, and bring you up out of this land to the land which he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25 Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” 26 So Joseph died, being one hundred ten years old, and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
*Probably means his relatives, including his offspring, not strictly his brothers. It is likely that some of Josephs eleven brothers were dead by this time.

Moses: Deuteronomy 31:1 Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. 2 He said to them, “I am one hundred twenty years old today. I can no more go out and come in. Yahweh has said to me, ‘You shall not go over this Jordan.’ 3 Yahweh your God himself will go over before you. He will destroy these nations from before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua will go over before you, as Yahweh has spoken. 4 Yahweh will do to them as he did to Sihon and to Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land; whom he destroyed. 5 Yahweh will deliver them up before you, and you shall do to them according to all the commandment which I have commanded you. 6 Be strong and courageous. Don’t be afraid or scared of them; for Yahweh your God himself is who goes with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you.”
7 Moses called to Joshua, and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land which Yahweh has sworn to their fathers to give them; and you shall cause them to inherit it. 8 Yahweh himself is who goes before you. He will be with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be discouraged.” . . .
Deuteronomy 32: 43 Rejoice, you nations, with his people,
for he will avenge the blood of his servants.
He will take vengeance on his adversaries,
and will make atonement for his land and for his people.†
44 Moses came and spoke all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he and Joshua the son of Nun. 45 Moses finished reciting all these words to all Israel. 46 He said to them, “Set your heart to all the words which I testify to you today, which you shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law. 47 For it is no vain thing for you; because it is your life, and through this thing you shall prolong your days in the land, where you go over the Jordan to possess it.”

Joshua: Joshua 24:22 Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen Yahweh yourselves, to serve him.”
They said, “We are witnesses.”
23 “Now therefore put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to Yahweh, the God of Israel.”
24 The people said to Joshua, “We will serve Yahweh our God, and we will listen to his voice.”
25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. 26 Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a great stone, and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of Yahweh. 27 Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us, for it has heard all Yahweh’s words which he spoke to us. It shall be therefore a witness against you, lest you deny your God.” 28 So Joshua sent the people away, each to his own inheritance.

David: 1 Chronicles 29:10 Therefore David blessed Yahweh before all the assembly; and David said, “You are blessed, Yahweh, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. 11 Yours, Yahweh, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty! For all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, Yahweh, and you are exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all! In your hand is power and might! It is in your hand to make great, and to give strength to all! 13 Now therefore, our God, we thank you, and praise your glorious name. 14 But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. 15 For we are strangers before you, and foreigners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is no remaining. 16 Yahweh our God, all this store that we have prepared to build you a house for your holy name comes from your hand, and is all your own. 17 I know also, my God, that you try the heart, and have pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things. Now I have seen with joy your people, who are present here, offer willingly to you. 18 Yahweh, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this desire forever in the thoughts of the heart of your people, and prepare their heart for you; 19 and give to Solomon my son a perfect heart, to keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, and to do all these things, and to build the palace, for which I have made provision.”
20 Then David said to all the assembly, “Now bless Yahweh your God!”

Jesus: Matthew 28:18 Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19  Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20  teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. [This is often called The Great Commission.]

Paul: Acts 20:18 When they had come to him, he said to them, “You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you all the time, 19 serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears, and with trials which happened to me by the plots of the Jews; 20 how I didn’t shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus. 22 Now, behold, I go bound by the Spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there; 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions wait for me. 24 But these things don’t count; nor do I hold my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to fully testify to the Good News of the grace of God.
25 “Now, behold, I know that you all, among whom I went about preaching God’s Kingdom, will see my face no more. 26 Therefore I testify to you today that I am clean from the blood of all men, 27 for I didn’t shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Take heed, therefore, to yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the assembly of the Lord and God which he purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know that after my departure, vicious wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Men will arise from among your own selves, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, remembering that for a period of three years I didn’t cease to admonish everyone night and day with tears. 32 Now, brothers, I entrust you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build up, and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one’s silver, gold, or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands served my necessities, and those who were with me. 35 In all things I gave you an example, that so laboring you ought to help the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” [That last quotation, from Jesus, is not found in any of the Gospels, but it is consistent with Jesus

All scripture quotations above are from the World English Bible, public domain. Thanks for reading. What would, or should, my farewell speech be like? Yours?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Christianity Today and articles about the brain's ability

Christianity Today has recently published two articles about a handicapped brain and a relationship to God.

One of them discusses an all-too-common fact -- the church forgets people with Alzheimer's, and their caregivers.

The other gives the story of a man in South Africa who was unable to communicate for nine years, although his brain was active, and he could hear and see, but who came to faith in God during that time. A remarkable story.

Thanks for reading. Read these articles.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sunspots 523

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

Christianity: Some interesting, and thought-provoking, thoughts on modesty, from Relevant.

Computing: Gizmo's Freeware tells us about a free MP3 editor.

Politics: Benjamin L. Corey believes he knows what a truly Bible-based nation would look like. Maybe not like you think.

Science:  Wired tells us about a woman who has deliberately let 200,000 bedbugs bite her.


National Public Radio reports that lots of human genes work just fine in yeast organisms.

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Excerpts from Orthodoxy, by Gilbert K. Chesterton, 24

An imbecile habit has arisen in modern controversy of saying that such and such a creed can be held in one age but cannot be held in another. Some dogma, we are told, was credible in the twelfth century, but is not credible in the twentieth. You might as well say that a certain philosophy can be believed on Mondays, but cannot be believed on Tuesdays. You might as well say of a view of the cosmos that it was suitable to half-past three, but not suitable to half-past four. What a man can believe depends upon his philosophy, not upon the clock or the century. If a man believes in unalterable natural law, he cannot believe in any miracle in any age. If a man believes in a will behind law, he can believe in any miracle in any age. Suppose, for the sake of argument, we are concerned with a case of thaumaturgic healing. A materialist of the twelfth century could not believe it any more than a materialist of the twentieth century. But a Christian Scientist of the twentieth century can believe it as much as a Christian of the twelfth century. It is simply a matter of a man’s theory of things. Therefore in dealing with any historical answer, the point is not whether it was given in our time, but whether it was given in answer to our question. And the more I thought about when and how Christianity had come into the world, the more I felt that it had actually come to answer this question.

Orthodoxy, first published in 1908, by G. K. Chesterton, is in the public domain, and available from Project Gutenberg. The previous post in this series is here. Thanks for reading! Read Chesterton.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Sunspots 522a (more stuff I would have included if it had been published)

Here are links to two important web pages, on (mostly) unrelated subjects:

Christianity Today has an article on why Christians should get involved in science. Not all Christians, of course, but some. Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christianity has a lot of antipathy toward science, and that's not a good thing, for Christianity or for science.

Wired has an article on the damage to living things which is likely to occur because of the Santa Barbara oil spill.

Thanks for reading. Read these articles.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sunspots 522

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:
Christianity: A review of Lauren Winner's book, Wearing God, by Relevant. Winner discusses some interesting Biblical metaphors for God in the interview, and the book. Not just Father, or Lord.

Relevant also tells us 5 ways that viewing pornography ruins a marriage.

Computing: National Public Radio reports on how good a job (or not) various traffic and map apps really do.


Health: Wired has some suggestions for making the development of effective antibiotics more attractive to drug companies.

Politics: Benjamin L. Corey believes he knows what a truly Bible-based nation would look like. Maybe not like you think.

Science:  Wired tells us about a woman who has deliberately let 200,000 bedbugs bite her.

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Excerpts from Orthodoxy, by Gilbert K. Chesterton, 23

Grave moderns told us that we must not even say “poor fellow,” of a man who had blown his brains out, since he was an enviable person, and had only blown them out because of their exceptional excellence. Mr. William Archer even suggested that in the golden age there would be penny-in-the-slot machines, by which a man could kill himself for a penny. In all this I found myself utterly hostile to many who called themselves liberal and humane. Not only is suicide a sin, it is the sin. It is the ultimate and absolute evil, the refusal to take an interest in existence; the refusal to take the oath of loyalty to life. The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far as he is concerned he wipes out the world. His act is worse (symbolically considered) than any rape or dynamite outrage. For it destroys all buildings: it insults all women. The thief is satisfied with diamonds; but the suicide is not: that is his crime. He cannot be bribed, even by the blazing stones of the Celestial City. The thief compliments the things he steals, if not the owner of them. But the suicide insults everything on earth by not stealing it. He defiles every flower by refusing to live for its sake. There is not a tiny creature in the cosmos at whom his death is not a sneer. When a man hangs himself on a tree, the leaves might fall off in anger and the birds fly away in fury: for each has received a personal affront. Of course there may be pathetic emotional excuses for the act. There often are for rape, and there almost always are for dynamite. But if it comes to clear ideas and the intelligent meaning of things, then there is much more rational and philosophic truth in the burial at the crossroads and the stake driven through the body, than in Mr. Archer’s suicidal automatic machines. There is a meaning in burying the suicide apart. The man’s crime is different from other crimes—for it makes even crimes impossible.
Obviously a suicide is the opposite of a martyr. A martyr is a man who cares so much for something outside him, that he forgets his own personal life. A suicide is a man who cares so little for anything outside him, that he wants to see the last of everything. One wants something to begin: the other wants everything to end. In other words, the martyr is noble, exactly because (however he renounces the world or execrates all humanity) he confesses this ultimate link with life; he sets his heart outside himself: he dies that something may live. The suicide is ignoble because he has not this link with being: he is a mere destroyer; spiritually, he destroys the universe. And then I remembered the stake and the crossroads, and the queer fact that Christianity had shown this weird harshness to the suicide. For Christianity had shown a wild encouragement of the martyr. Historic Christianity was accused, not entirely without reason, of carrying martyrdom and asceticism to a point, desolate and pessimistic. The early Christian martyrs talked of death with a horrible happiness. They blasphemed the beautiful duties of the body: they smelt the grave afar off like a field of flowers. All this has seemed to many the very poetry of pessimism. Yet there is the stake at the crossroads to show what Christianity thought of the pessimist. This was the first of the long train of enigmas with which Christianity entered the discussion. And there went with it a peculiarity of which I shall have to speak more markedly, as a note of all Christian notions, but which distinctly began in this one. The Christian attitude to the martyr and the suicide was not what is so often affirmed in modern morals. It was not a matter of degree. It was not that a line must be drawn somewhere, and that the self-slayer in exaltation fell within the line, the self-slayer in sadness just beyond it. The Christian feeling evidently was not merely that the suicide was carrying martyrdom too far. The Christian feeling was furiously for one and furiously against the other: these two things that looked so much alike were at opposite ends of heaven and hell. One man flung away his life; he was so good that his dry bones could heal cities in pestilence. Another man flung away life; he was so bad that his bones would pollute his brethren’s. I am not saying this fierceness was right; but why was it so fierce?

Orthodoxy, first published in 1908, by G. K. Chesterton, is in the public domain, and available from Project Gutenberg. The previous post in this series is here.  Thanks for reading! Read Chesterton.

Friday, May 15, 2015

22 questions from the "Holy Club" of the Wesleys, John and Charles

John Wesley, with his brother, Charles, founded the Holy Club at Oxford University, which was the forerunner of the Methodist Church. (See here for more on the Holy Club.)

One feature of the group was the use of accountability questions. I have been unable to determine whether what follows is an actual list, or closely based on a list -- if it were, it would be public domain -- from the early days of the Holy Club, but here is a list of such questions:

These are 22 questions, probably quite similar to, or identical with, the questions that members of John Wesley’s “Holy Club” asked themselves every day in their private devotions, over 200 years ago.
1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
3. Do I confidentially pass on to another what was told to me in confidence?
4. Can I be trusted?
5. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?
6. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
7. Did the Bible live in me today?
8. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?
9. Am I enjoying prayer?
10. When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?
11. Do I pray about the money I spend?
12. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
13. Do I disobey God in anything?
14. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
15. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
16. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy, or distrustful?
17. How do I spend my spare time?
18. Am I proud?
19. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?
20. Do I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard anyone? If so, what am I doing about it?
21. Do I grumble or complain constantly?
22. Is Christ real to me?

Thank you for reading. I heard of this list a couple of weeks ago, and have been using it since.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Poster on giving God glory, based on The Imitation of Christ

Imitation of Christ, on glory 

Based on The Imitation of Christ, a work by Thomas à Kempis, 15th century, hence public domain.

"Truly all human glory, all temporal honor, all worldly exultation, compared to Your eternal glory, is but vanity and folly. O God, my Truth and my Mercy, Blessed Trinity, to You alone be all praise, honor, power, and glory for ever and for ever. Amen." Indeed.

Thanks for looking. I used Coolors to generate the color scheme used in this poster.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sunspots 521

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

The Arts: Left Behind is going to be available through Netflix. E. Stephen Burnett does not recommend it, from any source.

Christianity: The New English Translation of the Bible, which can be downloaded free, in various formats. It is not public domain.

A Christianity Today columnist has begun wearing the same outfit to work all week. (In this case, the columnist is a female.)

Computing: Metaflop is a web site that lets you create your own fonts by modifying a pre-existing one.

Wired says that Coolors is a web site that lets you create your own color palettes, easily. It works. I plan to post a poster, with colors selected from that site, tomorrow.

Gizmo's Freeware has a Free Windows Desktop Software Security list, annotated.

The History Blog tells us about the first selfie, taken in 1839.

Christianity Today reviews a book that claims that Christians, historically, have embraced advancements in medicine, and should continue to do so.

Politics: Benjamin L. Corey gives statistics on how much (or little) Christians actually give that goes to help the poor, and says that his support of government assistance isn't because he is a socialist, but because, if the church isn't coming anywhere close to meeting needs, then government should, by default.

Time reports on a baby, conceived in vitro, with mitochondria, taken from the mother, and inserted into the egg.

National Public Radio reports on miscarriages. They are more common than you think, and the most common cause is a chromosomal abnormality. In other words, miscarriage prevents births of severely abnormal babies.

Wired on why, and how, cats purr.

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Excerpts from Orthodoxy, by Gilbert K. Chesterton, 22

For our Titanic purposes of faith and revolution, what we need is not the cold acceptance of the world as a compromise, but some way in which we can heartily hate and heartily love it. We do not want joy and anger to neutralize each other and produce a surly contentment; we want a fiercer delight and a fiercer discontent. We have to feel the universe at once as an ogre’s castle, to be stormed, and yet as our own cottage, to which we can return at evening. No one doubts that an ordinary man can get on with this world: but we demand not strength enough to get on with it, but strength enough to get it on. Can he hate it enough to change it, and yet love it enough to think it worth changing? Can he look up at its colossal good without once feeling acquiescence? Can he look up at its colossal evil without once feeling despair? Can he, in short, be at once not only a pessimist and an optimist, but a fanatical pessimist and a fanatical optimist? Is he enough of a pagan to die for the world, and enough of a Christian to die to it? In this combination, I maintain, it is the rational optimist who fails, the irrational optimist who succeeds. He is ready to smash the whole universe for the sake of itself.

I did not pick out this material to post because of Mother's Day.

Orthodoxy, first published in 1908, by G. K. Chesterton, is in the public domain, and available from Project Gutenberg. The previous post in this series is here.  Thanks for reading! Read Chesterton.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Creating DNA sequences has gotten easier, and some people think we need to be careful.

National Public Radio reports on a new technique for making sequences of DNA to order, apparently relatively quickly and easily, if you have the right equipment and know what you are doing. The report, and the company itself, use the term DNA printing. It isn't printing, in the usual sense. The only item on the company's web site seems to be a video, nearly 6 minutes long, about a CNN reporter, who had his DNA "hacked" by the company, as a demonstration of what they think they can do.

The CEO/chief scientist of the company, Cambrian Genetics, said a number of interesting things in the CNN report. I will mention two:

The ability to safely insert a DNA sequence into an adult, or any other cell, has not appeared yet.

Austen Heinz implied strongly that, when we can safely do this, we will have an ethical obligation to fix their DNA. That's worth an argument, I think.

The NPR report says: "But Heinz envisions a day when mass-produced DNA can genetically engineer people — or let anyone use DNA like computer code to design their own organisms." Again, that last part seems to be worth an argument.

I know -- we have been selecting organisms for different characteristics for centuries -- think dogs, for one example. So what's the big deal? Well maybe there isn't one. But consider: a terrorist might be able to produce an organism designed to destroy wiring, or pass on disease, or attack people. A lone geek might produce an organism which does something obnoxious, like digging holes in people's lawns, and is also resistant to poisons and disease, or is difficult to kill with traps or guns. Designing one's own organisms might lead to a lot of animal suffering by the products, if they were poorly designed, and, organisms being quite complex, poor design should occur all too often.

When dogs, or cows, were selected for some particular characteristics, it took a long time, maybe more than one human generation. There was time to assess the result. It also took a lot of effort. Usually, more than one person, or tribe, or family, was involved. There was at least a little consideration and discussion. If this technology becomes widely available, there are serious potential dangers.

See here for a report on different techniques, but which raises similar issues.

And all long-term exercises of power, especially in breeding, must mean the power of early generations over later ones. - C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man. HarperOne, 2015 paperback edition, p. 57. (Originally published in 1943)

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Sunspots 520

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

Christianity: (and politics) Christianity Today has an essay on the Indiana so-called religious freedom law, The essay points out some serious exaggerations by at least two sides in the argument over the law, and gives some good advice to Christians on the future of same-sex relationships in the US.

The 22 questions that John Wesley wanted Christians to ask themselves every day. (Public domain, and available from several other sites.)
Computing: Gizmo's Freeware recommends a web site that compares anti-virus software.
Ethics: A New York Times columnist writes about a "Moral Bucket List." He says that there are two kinds of virtues, "the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues," and we reward the first kind, but they really don't matter as much as the "eulogy virtues."
Politics: An essay on "taking the county back." The author says that Jesus didn't, and Israel, at that time, had really been taken from the Jews, in many senses.
Science: Wired tells us that honeybees aren't going to go away, but about 4,000 other species of bees are in danger.
Wired also reports on a creature known as the disco clam -- it produces flashes of light. The report has a couple of brief videos.
Sports: FiveThirtyEight presents an argument that Women's NCAA basketball is better than men's basketball.

Image source (public domain)

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

R. A. Torrey on how to lose the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

If there is one dread that comes to me more frequently than any other, it is that of losing the power of God. Oh, the agony of having known God’s power, of having been used of Him, and then of having that power withdrawn, to be laid aside as far as any real usefulness is concerned. Men may still praise you, but God can’t use you. To see a perishing world around you and to know there is no power in your words to save. Would not to die be better than that? . . . I see so many men from whom God has departed, men once eminently used of God, I walk with fear and trembling, and cry unto Him daily to keep me from the things that would make the withdrawal of his power necessary. But what those things are I think he has made plain to me, and I have tried in the words here written to make them plain to both you and myself. To sum them up they are these:
1) the surrender of our separation
2) sin
3) self-indulgence
4) greed for money
5) pride
6) the neglect of prayer
7) the neglect of the Word.
Shall we not, by God’s grace, from this time be on our guard against these things, and thus make sure of the continuance of God’s power in our life and service until that glad day comes when we can say with Paul: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day, “ (2 Tim. 4:7, 8.) or better yet with Jesus, “I have glorified thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which thou hast given me to do.” (John. 17:4, R. V.)

-Modified slightly from The Baptism of the Holy Spirit by R. A. Torrey. (public domain) Available here, and elsewhere.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Excerpts from Orthodoxy, by Gilbert K. Chesterton, 21

The evil of the pessimist is, then, not that he chastises gods and men, but that he does not love what he chastises—he has not this primary and supernatural loyalty to things. What is the evil of the man commonly called an optimist? Obviously, it is felt that the optimist, wishing to defend the honour of this world, will defend the indefensible. He is the jingo of the universe; he will say, “My cosmos, right or wrong.” He will be less inclined to the reform of things; more inclined to a sort of front-bench official answer to all attacks, soothing every one with assurances. He will not wash the world, but whitewash the world.

Some stupid people started the idea that because women obviously back up their own people through everything, therefore women are blind and do not see anything. They can hardly have known any women. The same women who are ready to defend their men through thick and thin are (in their personal intercourse with the man) almost morbidly lucid about the thinness of his excuses or the thickness of his head. A man’s friend likes him but leaves him as he is: his wife loves him and is always trying to turn him into somebody else. Women who are utter mystics in their creed are utter cynics in their criticism. Thackeray expressed this well when he made Pendennis’ mother, who worshipped her son as a god, yet assume that he would go wrong as a man. She underrated his virtue, though she overrated his value. The devotee is entirely free to criticize; the fanatic can safely be a sceptic. Love is not blind; that is the last thing that it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind.

Orthodoxy, first published in 1908, by G. K. Chesterton, is in the public domain, and available from Project Gutenberg. The previous post in this series is here.  Thanks for reading! Read Chesterton.